Lahore: A Pakistani court has stopped the screening of foreign films, serials and television shows, especially Indian content, on the country`s TV channels, triggering panic and outrage among exhibitors and viewers.
While staying the beaming of foreign content, Lahore High Court Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan yesterday ruled that Indian films and television serials were included in `Negative List` under the current bilateral trade regime.
He also directed the federal government and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to submit a detailed reply in this regard at the next hearing on December 12.
The order was issued in response to a petition filed last month by controversial TV talk show host Mubashir Lucman, a former film producer known for his anti-India stance. Lucman had contended that Indian films and TV serials were being imported in violation of Pakistani regulations.
He further claimed that under Pakistani rules, Indian movies that are shot completely in India and are sponsored by an Indian cannot be screened in the country.
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.
PEMRA fined televisions channels for violating regulations but this failed to stop them from airing foreign content, he said.
The judge remarked: "The Indian films and other material are included in the negative list which cannot be changed by issuing a SRO."
The `Negative List` contains items that cannot be traded between India and Pakistan.
Despite the court`s order, none of the Pakistani channels have stopped screening foreign content, including Indian and Turkish serials that are extremely popular in the country.