Pakistan’s media regulator Friday imposed a complete ban on the broadcast of Indian film, TV and music. Broadcasters which breach the ruling risk losing their license.
The move comes after weeks of growing political and social tensions between the two South Asian countries sparked by a border incident in mid-September in the disputed Kashmir region.
The ban by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA,) made at the behest of Pakistan’s federal government, follows some two weeks after a ban on the use of Pakistani artists in India. That was announced, not at government level, but rather by the powerful industry body, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA.)
Popular feelings have been stoked up by the political tensions. An example of that was the cancellation last week of the planned screening of a 50-year-old Pakistan-made art film at the Mumbai Film Festival. Local agitators made threats against the festival and called in the police.
PEMRA sought to explain its action not in the geo-political context, but rather in industry terms and a lack of trade reciprocity. Its chairman Absar Alam said that for years Pakistan has been open to Indian content, but that Pakistani content has been restricted in India.
In an interview on BBC television Alam described a flood of cheaply-made Indian content that was damaging Pakistan’s own TV drama industry. “They are the larger country, they should have the larger heart,” he said.