Television industry on Pakistan Supreme Court’s ban on Indian content
Creativity is again caught in the political crossfire between the subcontinent’s long-sparring neighbours. Indian television content has been banned for the second time in Pakistan, this time by that country’s Supreme Court.
Two years ago came the Indian ban on Pakistani actors and television content following the Uri attack. Pakistan reciprocated but that ban was overturned by the Lahore High Court in 2017. Now, on October 27, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the Lahore HC’s verdict and reimposed a blanket ban on all Indian television content. According to Dawn.com, a Pakistan daily, while delivering the verdict, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, said, “They are trying to [obstruct the construction] of our dam and we cannot even ban their channels?”
While the Indian television industry said it stood by the sentiments of the judiciaries on both sides, it felt such bans would hardly affect their revenues or the relations between the countries.
Sushant Singh, general secretary of CINTAA (Cine and TV Artists’ Association) calls these bans on entertainment and cricket superficial. Sushant’s quote can be trimmed to: “Jo bhi ad revenue milta hai uska asar toh padhega, but aaj ke daur mein, jab internet hai, toh yeh bans khaanapoorti si lagti hai. (It will definitely impact ad revenues, but when internet is so easily available, these bans are merely a formality). Kya itna bada revenue aata tha Pakistan se ki India ke channels aur production houses ki kamar toot jayegi? (Is the TV revenue from Pakistan so huge that its loss will break the back of Indian channels and production houses?)”
Television producer Binaifer Kohli feels the ban wouldn’t significantly impact revenues. “I don’t think it will affect anything. I don’t want to earn money from there, when our soldiers are fighting,” she says.
Producer Rajan Shahi says there is good content being made on either side. “Ultimately the audience suffers. There is a huge fan following of our shows in Pakistan, and somewhere you feel it wouldn’t be fair on them. But every country has a right to take decisions according to their sentiments,” he explains.
Television actors, on the other hand, feel entertainment should be seen as just that — entertainment. “Creativity should flow in each human and not be bound my borders. We are entertainers for the world and there are a lot of people who work round-the-clock to entertain the masses,” says actor Harshita Gaur.
Actor Chhavvi Pandey agrees, “If viewers [in other countries] do not get to watch our shows, it’s technically our loss. Pakistan has a huge audience [for our shows] and they appreciate our shows. I hope something is done in this case, at least for the fans.”
With sentiments riding high on both sides of the border and entertainment its soft target, the question arises — do such bans change anything on the ground? “If people want to watch, they will find some way to watch it,” adds Shahi.
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