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Thursday, October 21, 1999 Published at 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK

World: South Asia

India lifts Pakistan TV ban

India hopes to boost its own broadcasts

By Jyotsna Singh in Delhi

The Indian Government's decision to lift the ban on Pakistan television (PTV) programmes comes five months after the recent conflict in Kargil.

Kashmir Conflict
The Information and Broadcasting Minister, Arun Jaitley, told a press conference that the decision to lift the ban on cable operators distributing Pakistani TV was taken because it was time for Indians to see the developments in Pakistan.

Media commentators in India who had strongly criticised the ban have welcomed the move.

Media analyst Amita Malik told the BBC that it was a very good step because discerning Indian viewers can judge for themselves what is true and what is false.

[ image: The ban came in during the Kashmir conflict]
The ban came in during the Kashmir conflict
But the government justified its censorship to stop what it described as Pakistan_s anti-India propaganda.

Pakistan TV programmes - especially soap operas - are very popular with Indian viewers.

In areas closer to the border, PTV programmes have a large audience.

The Indian Government has said it wants to strengthen the signals of state-run television Doordarshan in those areas to counter PTV's reach.

In another move, the new government has decided to ban a Russian channel TB6 for broadcasting programmes it said are thought to be pornographic.

The move has once again raised the debate on the feasibility of such an exercise.

Critics say modern technology makes it nearly impossible to cut off such programmes because people have different ways of accessing them.

In the past decade, Indian viewers have been flooded with a plethora of foreign TV channels since satellite has been made available.

Critics say any move to ban TV channels interferes with a person's right to choose.

Similar decisions to censor TV programmes or films containing scenes that authorities say are obscene have often been controversial.

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