satellite dish
satellite dishCreativeCommons/Mathieu Lebreton

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has issued a warning to local channels illegally airing contents from Indian channels and imposed a cap of less than six percent of air-time to telecast Indian television channels.

Pakistan's electronic media watchdog confirmed the development after citing complaints from TV channel owners and common citizens. The Pemra also stated that strict action would be taken against all TV channels found guilty of violating rules established in the code of conduct.

The imposition of the cap is a revision of the existing Pemra rules that say only 10 percent of airtime (two hours and 40 minutes in a 24-hour transmission) is allowed for foreign contents.

"Only the TV channels having permission and license can telecast foreign content. Pakistani TV channels can utilise less than 6 per cent of air time to telecast Indian TV contents from October 15, 2016," Pemra chief Absar Alam was quoted saying. He said that all the stakeholders, including cable operators and the Pakistan Broadcasters Association, have been warned.

Apart from issuing a 45-day deadline to those TV channels showing Indian contents illegally, Alam said that violators will be punished after the deadline. The watchdog would be assisted by other departments such as the Federal Board of Revenue, State Bank and agencies, including the Federal Investigation Agency, to curb the sale of Indian Digital To Home (DTH) decoders in the country. Action against people involved in the sale of Indian DTH would be taken with immediate effect.

A Pemra board meeting also decided to completely stop the airing of any Indian channel in the country since none of them had landing rights in Pakistan.

"I urge the people to stop using illegal Indian dishes (antenna) as it is in utter violation of the law and against the national interest," he said while alluding to punitive actions, including suspension of violators.

Indian films, dramas and reality shows are highly popular and keenly watched in Pakistan. The move has been introduced considering Pakistani DTH service is set to be launched in the coming months.