Pak cable operators stop beaming Indian channels

Pakistanis have been left without their daily fix of Indian soap operas and Bollywood movies after cable operators across the country stopped beaming Indian entertainment channels on the orders of a media regulatory body.

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2010, 16:38 PM IST

Islamabad/Lahore: Pakistanis have been
left without their daily fix of Indian soap operas and Bollywood movies after cable operators across the country stopped beaming Indian entertainment channels on the orders of
a media regulatory body.

Leading Indian entertainment channels of the Star and
Sony networks have disappeared from cable networks across the
country while several international news channels like BBC and
CNN are no longer being beamed in some parts of Pakistan for
the past few days.

A message displayed on the Nayatal cable network in
Islamabad said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory
Authority had "suspended some channels".

It did not give details.
PEMRA Chairman Malik Mushtaq told reporters that the
decision had been taken on the directions of the Supreme
Court.

"Cable operators have been directed to immediately
stop broadcasting all those channels which have no landing
rights (in Pakistan)," he said.

Media reports said the Supreme Court blacked out
Indian channels on the recommendation of the Information and
Broadcasting Ministry on August 25.

Pakistan Cable Operators Association official Muhammad
Sadiq said, "Cable operators have been directed to stop
airing at least 30 channels, including entertainment channels
like Star Plus, Sony, Set Max, Star Gold, Zee TV, Zee Movies,
Star Movies, sports channels like Star Sports, ESPN, Super
Sports and news channels like CNN, BBC and AL-Jazeera."

Some popular Islamic channels broadcast from abroad,
including the India-based Peace TV, and several sports
channels too have been affected by the directive from PEMRA.

There has been widespread public outrage against
PEMRA`s order to remove these channels which are watched by
millions of people.

Sports lovers could not watch the first day of the
Test match between Pakistan and England being played at Lords
on Star Sports.

Others complained they had been deprived of the
broadcast of special `tarawee` prayers from Mecca on a religious channel.
Muneeza Begum, a domestic help who likes to unwind
after a long day by watching Indian entertainment channels,
said, "My children have been complaining for the past three
days as they cannot watch their favourite dramas."

Rights activist Hina Abbas said, "Since we are already
a fun-starved nation, such an action will deprive everyone the
luxury of watching entertainment channels."
Pakistan Cable Operators Association official Muhammad
Sadiq said cable networks were receiving numerous calls from
subscribers about the removal of popular channels from their
networks.

"Many of the callers are furious and are not ready to
listen to our explanation," he said.

PTI