Pakistan Orders TV Dramas to Censor Hug & Kiss Scenes

On Friday, October 22, Muhamad Tahir, the Director-General of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), ordered local tv channels in Pakistan to censor objectionable content in their television dramas. The objectionable contents mentioned in the order refer to sensual scenes that include “indecent dressing, caressing, bed scenes and gestures, sensitive or controversial plots.”

PEMRA is an independent federal institution in Pakistan that regulates the licensing and distribution of private print and electronic media organizations. Broadcast media in Pakistan, such as radio and television, are also under the regulatory jurisdiction of PEMRA.

The recent order is part of PEMRA’s regularly issued directives. This time, the purpose is to further protect the viewers from content that violates “commonly accepted standards of decency.” According to the order, the agency received multiple complaints from the Pakistan Citizen Portal and directly in their internal call centers.

Feedback from social media and in Whatsapp groups was also becoming more significant, the order stated. The order also claimed that “a considerable stratum of the society believes that the dramas are not depicting [the] true picture of Pakistani society.”

PEMRA’s order was heavily scrutinized online. Reema Omer, a Pakistan-based lawyer and a legal advisor for the International Commission of Jurists, said in a Tweet that “PEMRA finally got something right.” Omer’s satirical comment highlights the culture of control and violence in Pakistan.

Another Twitter user criticized the order’s double standards, asking why hugs are being censored while “a man slapping a woman is okay to be shown on prime time television.”

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