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Pakistan court grants permission to private channels to screen Hindi films

Lahore High Court grants permission to cable networks across border to screen Hindi films

Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam in a still from Kaabil
Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam in a still from Kaabil

Five months after Pakistan's regulatory authority barred cable networks from showcasing Indian movies in the aftermath of the 2016 Uri attacks, Lahore's High Court lifted the ban on Monday citing the terms of agreement of the channels with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah granted permission to private television channels to screen Indian content in an interim order, following a petition filed by Leo Communication challenging the ban, which was imposed by PEMRA in October 2016.

Advocate Taffazul Rizvi, counsel for petitioner, argued channels should be permitted to broadcast Indian shows as they fall within the definition of 'entertainment' under the license agreement with the PEMRA.

The petitioner claimed that he had been granted a 15-year license by PEMRA to operate a cable channel, Filmazia, in 2010, and was allowed to broadcast 10 per cent foreign content, including Indian, under the license. "The channel because of running foreign (Indian) content became popular and received highest viewership ratings across the country," he said, asserting that the Pak government was indulging in selective patriotism, given that Indian movies received the green light for exhibition in Pak theatres.

Responding to Justice Shah's previous observation, that ban of Indian content on cable networks wasn't justified if they were being screened in cinemas, a PEMRA law officer seeked time to establish that 'entertainment' does not include 'Indian plays'. The court adjourned the hearing till March 2.

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