23 June, 2021

Eyeball Politics

A cable strike in Pakistan? Well, it came about because banned Indian channels are the lifeblood for operators.

Eyeball Politics
It was a form of protest quite unique to Pakistan. When thousands of television screens blanked out last Sunday (August 24), it was the Cable Operators Association's way of telling the Pakistani establishment that it had gone too far in guiding citizens on what they could watch or what constitutes "clean and healthy entertainment" on TV. The COA was essentially protesting against the government ban on cable operators offering a bouquet of Indian channels, from news to entertainment programmes, all very popular here.

When the association issued a nationwide strike call, it had wanted to only plug out Pakistan's private TV channels, believing they were tapping their formidable clout to stamp out competition for eyeballs from across the border. But local cable operators were so furious they blanked out government channels as well.

COA's protest was also fuelled by economic compulsions. Points out Chaudhry Imran, its general secretary: "The ban is seriously affecting business as viewers are discontinuing cable subscriptions when they do not get popular programmes in their...

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