Pakistan’s television channels are producing dramas that are too feminist, the country’s media watchdog has said, complaining about an absence of “children and men” on the box.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) singled out soap operas’ fixation with storylines involving women and their mother-in-laws.
Local dramas and soap operas, many of which seek to challenge conservative taboos, are immensely popular according to ratings.
Plotlines have involved social issues including domestic violence, child abuse, and misogyny.
But Pemra said such dramas depict a “hackneyed image of women and have confined themselves to feminist issues only, therefore, ignoring children, teenagers and men”.
The authority also blasted television channels for scandalising viewers with “intimate moments between couples” and “bed scenes”, ordering a clean up of the airwaves.
Dramas are glamourising infidelity, inappropriate dressing and drinking “in utter disregard to Pakistani culture and values”, it said, adding that hundreds of viewers had written in to complain.
“All TV channels are therefore required to stop airing such content in dramas and produce content in consonance with the socio-cultural norms as per aspirations of Pakistani society,” read a statement from the regulator.
The warning came as the government has been accused of a wider crackdown on media freedom and also of pandering to religious conservatives.
It was unclear how much notice television channels would take of the edict. Analysts said it remained to be seen how serious the government was about the issue and Pemra was often seen as toothless.
Sherry Rehman, a leading senator, said: “So basically Pemra only wants cartoon shows for content? What are “sensitive” themes? Women/people talking about their rights to life, education, careers, property?”
In October, Pakistan’s supreme court said it would block Indian content on television after a petition from local producers.
Meanwhile on Wednesday Pakistan’s chief justice upheld an earlier ruling that the supreme court would not allow Indian content on Pakistani channels because it “damages our culture”.
In October, the court said it would block Indian content on television after a petition from local producers.
“India is shrinking the flow of water into Pakistan. Why shouldn’t we close their channels?” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said at the time.
The nuclear-armed rivals have repeatedly banned each others television and films in tit-for-tat exchanges.