Pakistan’s High Court has determined that India’s film and TV material does not qualify to be part of Pakistan’s bilateral trade rules in place with India. The Court ruling, sitting in Lahore, the Punjabi province of Pakistan, affects all Indian programming and content currently being aired in Pakistan, and has reportedly caused consternation in the nation.
Indeed, The Hindu newspaper (published in Lahore) states the decision “triggered panic and outrage among exhibitors and viewers”.
Lahore High Court Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan directed that the federal government and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) submit a detailed reply to the ruling, issued in response to a case started by TV talk-show host Mubashir Lucman who argued that Indian movies and TV material were being screened in violation of Pakistan’s rules.
Lucman’s counsel argued that the government had allowed the import and exhibition of Indian and other foreign films and serials through a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) issued in 2006. “The impugned SRO is in clear violation of Pakistan’s import policy and the rules of PEMRA,” the counsel claimed in court. PEMRA usually fined televisions channels for violating regulations but this failed to stop them from airing foreign content, he said.
Despite the court’s order, the newspaper says that none of the Pakistani channels have stopped screening foreign content, including Indian and Turkish serials that are extremely popular in the country. Pakistani viewers and film distributors are also questioning the order, saying it would affect the movie industry that depends on imports to ensure people come to watch films at new multiplexes.