ISLAMABAD, May 17: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting decided to mount pressure on the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to bring cable operators under its censorship, here on Thursday.
The committee expressed concern over inability of cable operators to provide “standard” channels –those which the committee thinks are in conformity with Pakistani culture and family values.
MNA Begum Rehana Aleem Mashhadi presided over the meeting, held at the Parliament House, which was also attended by the minister of state for information, Tariq Azim.
A number of members of the committee were of the view that cable operators were offering channels which were against the spirit of the Pemra’s censorship policy and were negatively affecting the young generation. They wanted strict action by Pemra to force cable operators to abide by the “ethics” of morality.
Sources said that some members claimed cable operators were also under pressure from many households that were bored of Pakistani or Indian channels and wanted something new. These members said customers should be given a free choice and offered a variety of channels and those who wanted to prevent their children from being exposed to nudity or violence-packed programmes should install child locks on their television sets.
They were of the view that censorship had destroyed the Pakistani electronic media –in terms of quality and credibility– and Pemra should refrain from harassing private electronic media on the basis of its rules, which went against the spirit of the freedom of media.
They said youngsters had also had access to the Internet on which any type of material, including obscene, could be viewed or downloaded.
The committee also expressed its concern over what it called the “faulty” recruitment policy of Pakistan Television (PTV) and the gradual decline in the quality of its programmes.
Some members of the committee were of the view that all rules, except merit, were followed during the appointment of new staff in PTV, sources said.
Sources said that these members criticised the PTV management for appointing consultants on major posts at hefty packages in apparent violation of appointment rules at a time when it entered into competition with private channels.
They said the managing director PTV had admitted that appointments had been made in PTV at good packages but that was the need of the hour as the channel badly needed skilled manpower. He said such appointments had only been made on contract basis and that the policy of merit should be strictly adhered.