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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Pakistan allows Indian TV shows
By Aijaz Mahar
BBC News, Islamabad

A TV showroom in Karachi
Pakistan's private channels will be allowed to diversify
Pakistan's government has said it will allow 14 private television channels to air a limited amount of foreign content in their daily transmissions.

No more than 10% of content must come from abroad, the ruling says. Indian programming is capped at 60% of that figure. About 40% will be in English.

The move follows months of wrangling between cable operators and officials.

Indian channels are banned in Pakistan, but cable operators flout the ban and regularly air popular Indian serials.

Strikes

News of the government decision came in a written reply from cabinet minister Zulfiqar Ali Gondal to a question in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.

Maj-Gen Gondal said limited foreign programming would be allowed only on those channels which could be viewed outside as well as inside Pakistan, such as the private Geo and ARY channels.

Regional language channels - including KTN and STV which broadcast in Sindhi and Khyber TV which does so in Pashto - were not on the list.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had taken the decision to allow foreign programmes in February, he said.

But many private channels had not adhered to the specified quota and the government had imposed taxes and other measures on cable operators.

This led to months of widespread protests and strikes by cable operators.

All channels would now have to follow the code of conduct laid down by Pemra, Maj-Gondal said.


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