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Daily Star: Pakistani Media Regulation Borders on Censorship

Author: Huma Yusuf
August 11, 2010


As Pakistani media have become more influential, government efforts to curtail outlets have become more creative. In early July, the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting proposed a new media code of conduct. The bill calls for a ban on graphic footage of terrorist attacks and forbids media from airing the statements of violent extremists.

Although Farahnaz Ispahani, a spokesperson for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, has insisted that this bill respects media freedom, it includes a clause warning against broadcasting “anything defamatory against the organs of the state.” For this reason, the proposed bill has already been criticized as a new form of censorship.

This bill is a continuation of the state's uneasy relationship with media, which has seen both new freedoms and new restrictions in the past decade. Flipping through Pakistani television channels today, a viewer will catch glimpses of diverse and often contradictory programming: feisty political talk shows, news coverage of brutal terrorist attacks, satirical, anti-government songs and cartoons, music videos, religious programming, footage of scantily clad models at fashion shows and sports.

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