Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court has given a media regulator four weeks to submit a report on "obscene and vulgar" television programmes after getting inputs from all stakeholders, including TV channels.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry issued the direction yesterday in response to a petition filed by retired judge Wajihuddin Ahmed and former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed.
However, the move has been ridiculed by rights activists and advocates of free speech, who have noted that obscenity is not even properly defined.
The petitioners have complained about Indian films and TV shows aired on Pakistani channels, saying their contents are allegedly vulgar and obscene.
The bench contended that rules covering television programming could not be applied without the cooperation of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority.
The regulator was directed to furnish copies of its report to the counsel of the petitioners so that they could file their replies.
The court also admitted applications from former Information Minister Javed Jabbar, the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan and Pakistan Broadcasters Association for being made parties in the case.
PEMRA Chairman Abdul Jabbar told the bench that his organisation is trying to monitor all TV channels and implement rules.
However, the bench contended that PEMRA had not taken any action during the past decade and had swung into action only after petitions were filed in court.
A report from PEMRA said if any illegality was noticed, the concerned channel was taken off the air and so far 97 illegal channels were stopped from broadcasting.
Meetings had been held with all stakeholders to frame a code of conduct for the electronic media.
Though a draft of the code was prepared, it could not be finalised.