The Pakistan goverment has asked Pakistani banks to immediately ban online payments from this country for the subscription of electronic media content from India, according to a media report on Friday.
The decision was taken by the cabinet on November 9, Dawn newspaper reported, adding that the banking authorities have also been asked to submit a compliance report to the State Bank of Pakistan, the central bank of the country, by November 13.
“We are in receipt of a letter from the cabinet division, Government of Pakistan, whereby they have instructed us to stop different modes of payments, including credit cards, for subscribing (to) Indian Content in Pakistan, including Zee5 video-on-demand service,” according to the circular.
“It is advised to ensure meticulous compliance of aforementioned instructions of the Government of Pakistan and submit compliance status to the State Bank of Pakistan by November 13, 2020,” the circular added.
When contacted, former chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Absar Alam said that Indian content has already been banned in Pakistan, so the new circular could hit online payments for Direct to Home (DTH) service.
He said those who have DTH facilities are mostly using Indian content and they make online payments.
Now the subscriber cannot pay directly from Pakistan, but the Indian provider can get payments from other countries like the United Arab Emirates.
In India, DTH broadcasting service refers to the distribution of multichannel TV programmes by using a satellite system and providing TV signals directly to subscribers’ premises.
No data is available about how many Pakistanis are using this option to subscribe to Indian content.
Bankers said they only have to ensure that no payment is made from Pakistan for Indian content.
In response to a question, an official of one of the biggest local channels said it subscribed to only some content from India and all the payments are made through Dubai, so no online payment from Pakistan was required.
Sources in the entertainment circles said they were sure that the online payment mode ban was imposed following a drama serial that is broadcast by an Indian channel, the report said.
The show ran into controversy when PEMRA banned it in Pakistan after a backlash over a clip that went viral on social media, the report said.
Following the Pakistani cabinet’s decision, the country’s entertainment industry and audiences reacted with disappointment to the decision.
Many people belonging to the entertainment industry expressed their frustration at the decision and many noted it will affect the livelihood of actors, writers, directors and technicians across the country.
In recent times many actors, writers, directors and technicians have been turning to digital/OTT given the lack of local streaming options.
On demand and paid streamlining services operating out of India including Zee5 gained a lot of popularity and subscribers base in the last few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic which left people working from home and in lockdowns.
Zee5 in particular has been airing Pakistani made content on its streaming service available in Pakistan with two major serials, Churails and Ek Jhooti Love Story.