ISLAMABAD- Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has taken punitive actions against a number of cable operators in different cities, including Rawalpindi and Islamabad , for screening movies of neighbouring countries. The action included imposition of fine and sealing of their facilities.
An official source said on August 11, 2003 that “though there was a prohibition not to show movies of neighbouring countries, a number of cable operators were showing such films to increase their subscriber base. However, the cable operators have been strictly told that screening of such movies will entail heavy penalties.”
He said a fine of Rs25,000 each had also been imposed on three cable operators in Islamabad and one in Rawalpindi during a campaign launched last week. Similar actions have also been taken in different cities like Lahore, Karachi, Sargodha, Bhakar, Lodhran, and in the NWFP.
Though Pemra officials were tight-lipped about the complete details of the campaign, some of the details suggested sealing of facilities of two cable operators in Sargodha and Bhakar with their apparatus confiscated for illegal operations without obtaining proper licence.
Similarly, two cable operators in Lahore were fined Rs500,000 each for showing channels Pemra had not approved. Similarly, four operators of the same city have been fined Rs25,000 each for violating the authority laws.
The source said the authority had issued a list of 49 channels permitted to be shown, but it was receiving complaints regarding beaming of channels containing obscene content, which according to the authority’s regulations was not allowed. Moreover, some operators even showed pirated channels in violation of copyright provisions.
Clause 35 of the Pemra Regulations 2002 clearly states that the licensee will be responsible for ensuring that copyright obligations with respect to the programmes being relayed are fulfilled.
The source said the poor quality of services being provided was a general complaint among the subscribers against the provision of clause 5 of the ordinance, which demanded technical competence on part of the operator.
He said the rules mentioned that any operator who violated any provisions of the ordinance would be guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term up to six months with a fine of Rs100,000. If the operator repeats the offence, he can be awarded punishment up to three years or fined up to Rs2 million.
Clause 21 of the ordinance also prohibits broadcasting of a specific channel if the contents are likely to create hatred among the people, prejudicial to law and order, disturb peace and tranquility, against the ideology of Pakistan, contain pornographic or obscene material or endanger national security or are violative of the terms and conditions of the licence.