[Gazette of Pakistan, Extraordinary, Part-II, 10th October, 2012].

S.R.O. 1265(I)/2012, dated 25.9.2012.—WHEREAS based on the public feedback it is felt expedient to devise guidelines for the electronic media for the improvement of working of electronic media.

WHEREAS after detailed deliberations in the Joint Meeting of Chairpersons, Members of the Councils of Complaints from across the country and Authority Members, the Joint Meeting while expressing its strong belief in the freedom of expression discussed and prepared a draft to enhance the reputation of the electronic journalism in Pakistan.

WHEREAS the Authority has time and again expressed its commitment towards promoting self-regulation by the licensees while encouraging the licensees to ensure proper editorial control and policy of gate-keeping along with arrangement for the training of workers of the electronic media.


WHEREAS the draft regulations prepared by the Joint Meeting of Chairpersons. Members of the Councils of Complaints and Authority Members was circulated among the stakeholders as well as uploaded on PEMRA website for consultation and comments of the stakeholders and the general public.

WHERRAS the draft regulations were revised in view of the response received from the stakeholders and the general public and to ensure that freedom of expression is protected as enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and growth of free, fair and responsible electronic media in the country is promoted.

WHEREAS under Article 37(g) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan read with Section 20 of the Ordinance, the licensees are required to ensure that all programmes and advertisements do not contain or encourage violence, terrorism, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination, sectarianism, extremism, militancy, hatred, pornography, obscenity, vulgarity or other material offensive to commonly accepted standards of decency.

NOW THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred under sub-section (3) of Section 4 read with Sections 19, 20 and all other enabling provisions of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority is pleased to make the following Regulations:

1.  Short title and commencement.—(1) These regulations shall be called Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Content) Regulations 2012.

(2)  They shall come into force at once.

2.       Definitions.—(1) Terms and expressions used in these regulations shall have, unless it appears repugnant to the context or provided otherwise, following meaning:-

(a)     “advertisement” means a set of visual and audio messages for the projection of a product, service, or idea with the object of propagating sale, purchase or hire of the product, service or idea for creating other related effects;

(b)     “Authority” means the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) established under Section 3 of the Ordinance;

(c)     “Council” means the Council of Complaints established under the Ordinance;

(d)     “content” includes programmes and advertisements;

(e)     “current affairs programme” means the programme that contains explanation and analysis of current events and issues, including material dealing with political or industrial controversy or with current public policy;

(f)      “footage” means the raw, unedited material as it had been originally filmed by any video recording device;

(g)     “foreign content” means the content that is produced under the direct or indirect creative control of foreigners, foreign companies or foreign broadcasters;

(h)     “indecent” includes whatsoever may amount to any incentive, sensuality and excitement of impure thoughts in the mind of an ordinary man of normal temperament and has the tendency to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influence, and which is deemed to be detrimental to public morals and calculated to produce pernicious effect, in depraving and debauching the minds of persons;

(i)      “licence” means a licence issued by the Authority to establish and operate a broadcast media or distribution service;

(j)      “licensee” means a person to whom the Authority has issued a licence;

(k)     “Ordinance” means the Pakistan electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002 as amended from time to time;

(l)      “programme” means the systematic broadcasting of visual or sound images by a broadcast station but does not include an advertisement;

(m)    “propaganda” means a systematic dissemination of any doctrine, rumour or selective information to promote one sided views on any controversial issue;

(n)     “proscribed organization” means proscribed organization as defined under Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997;

(o)     “regulations” means the regulations made under the Ordinance;

(p)     “rules” means the rules made under the Ordinance;

(q)     “sectarian” means pertaining to, devoted to, peculiar to, or one which promotes the interest of a religious sect or sects in a bigoted or prejudicial manner;

(r)      “smoking” means smoking of tobacco in any form whether in the form of cigarettes, cigar or otherwise with the aid of a pipe, wrapper or any other instrument.

(s)      “terrorism” means terrorism as defined under Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997;

(t)      “terrorist” means terrorist as defined under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997;

(2)  Words and phrases used but not defined in these regulations, unless the context otherwise requires, shall have the meanings assigned to them in the Ordinance, and the rules and regulations made thereunder.

3.       Local media industry protection.—(1) Except in case of landing rights permission holder, licensee shall ensure that the foreign content aired in a calendar day does not exceed a maximum often percent of the whole content.

(2)  Licensee shall ensure that no programme is aired in violation of the intellectual property rights.

4.       Religious and ethnic harmony.—No content shall be aired that contains derogatory remarks about any religion or sect or community or uses visuals or words contemptuous of religious sects and ethnic groups or which promotes communal or sectarian hatred or disharmony.

5.       Ethical and social values.—(1) Licensee shall show deference to the ethical and social values of the country and ensure that:-

(a)     any content that maligns or slanders any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country is not broadcast or distributed;

(b)     content does not make careless references to any class or group of persons as being inherently inferior or in any way discriminate against any section of the community on account of religion, gender, age, disability or occupational status.

(c)     content is not obscene or indecent;

          Explanation: For the purposes of these regulations content shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.

(d)     offensive or derogatory jokes, words, gestures, dialogues and subtitles are not broadcast or distributed;

(e)     behaviour such as smoking and drug abuse is not presented as glamorous or desirable;

(f)      alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or any other narcotics shall not be shown;

(g)     content does not contain anything that denigrates men or women through the depiction in any manner of the figure, in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent or derogatory;

(h)     content does not contain any abusive comment;

(i)      content does not contain anything that, when taken in context, tends to or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race or caste, national, ethnic or linguistic origin, colour or religion or sect, sex, sexual orientation, age or mental or physical disability;

(j)      no content is aired that is offensive, indecent, vulgar or defamatory;

6.  Coverage of incidents of accidents, violence and crime.—(1) Coverage of incidents of violence and crime shall not incite, glamorize or in any way promote violence or anti-social behaviour.

(2)     Appropriate, warning shall be given upfront for content which may be potentially disturbing or upsetting so as to enable viewers to make an informed choice.

(3)     Scenes with excessive violence or suffering such as close-up shots of persons being brutally tortured and killed shall not be shown.

(4)     It shall be ensured that reporting of incidents of crime, accident, natural disaster or violence does not create hurdles in dispensation of the duties of rescue agencies, hospitals and doctors.

(5)     Extreme caution shall be exercised in handling themes, plots or scenes that depict sex and violence, including rape and other sexual assaults.

(6)     Identity of any victim of rape, sexual abuse, terrorism or kidnapping or such victim’s family shall not be revealed without prior written permission of the victim or victim’s guardian where victim is a minor:

Provided that during any ongoing rescue or security operation, identity and number of victims shall not be revealed unless the same is warranted by the rescue or security agency in-charge of the operation.

(7)     Content shall not glamorise or in any way promote persons groups or organizations who use or advocate the use of violence or engage in any criminal activity within Pakistan and licensee shall ensure that all proscribed organisations, militant groups or individuals who are notified by the Government as terrorists shall clearly be so identified and statements of such militant groups or individuals shall not be aired.

(8)     Licensee shall ensure that there is no live coverage which discloses the tactical measures adopted by law enforcement agencies against terrorists during ongoing security operations.

(9)     The licensee shall not air head money or bounty other than announced by the competent Court or the Government agency of Pakistan.

(10)   A licensee shall not broadcast video footage of suicide bombers, terrorists, bodies of victims of terrorism, statements and pronouncements of proscribed organizations, militants and extremist elements and any other act which may, in any way, promote aid or abet terrorist or terrorism.

7.  Privacy and personal data protection.—(1) Licensee shall avoid any infringement of privacy in programmes and in connection with obtaining material included in programmes unless the same is warranted by an identifiable public interest.

Explanation: For the purposes of these regulations warranted means that where licensees wish to justify an infringement of privacy as warranted they should be able to demonstrate why in the particular circumstances of the case it is warranted. If the reason is that it is in the public interest then the licensee should be able to demonstrate that the public interest outweighs the right to privacy.

(2)     Licensee shall not obtain or seek information, audio, pictures or any agreement through misrepresentation or deception unless the same is warranted by identifiable public interest.

(3)     Door stepping for factual programmes should not take place unless a request for an interview has been refused and door stepping is warranted by identifiable public interest.

Explanation: For the purposes of these regulations door stepping is the filming or recording of an interview or attempted interview with someone, or announcing that a call is being filmed or recorded for broadcast purposes, without any prior warning.

(4)     Information which discloses location of a person’s home or family shall not be revealed without permission unless there is an identifiable public interest.

(5)     Licensee shall ensure that words, images or actions filmed or recorded in, or broadcast from, a public place, are not so private that prior consent is required before broadcast from the individual or organization concerned unless broadcasting without their consent is warranted by identifiable public interest.

8.       Programming for children.—(1) Programmes and advertisements meant for children shall not:–

(a)     be presented in a manner which may be disturbing or distressing to children or which may in any way adversely affect their general well being;

(b)     be frightening, or contain violence:

(c)     be deceptive or misleading or against commonly accepted social values; and

(d)     promotes superstitions.

(2)     Horror and supernatural content which may be frightening to children shall not be broadcast in timeslots that are accessible to children.

(3)     The licensee shall include appropriate warning before airing any content that may not be suitable for children.

(4)     Due care must be taken over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of people under eighteen who take part or are otherwise involved in programmes. This is irrespective of any consent given by the participant or by a parent, guardian or other person over the age of eighteen in loco parentis.

(5)     People under eighteen must not be caused unnecessary distress or anxiety by their involvement in programmes or by the broadcast of those programmes.

(6)     Prizes aimed at children must be appropriate to the age range of both the target audience and the participants.

9.       Language.–(1) Content shall maintain high standards of language. Abusive and vulgar language shall be strictly avoided in all content.

(2)  Standard Urdu, regional and foreign languages which are grammatically correct, shall be used for programmes such as news, current affairs, info-educational programmes and programmes meant for children.

10.  News and current affairs programmes.—(1) News, current affairs or documentary programmes shall present information in an objective, accurate, impartial and balanced manner.

Explanation: Impartial here means that opinion and views expressed by the licensee shall be based on proper reasoning and facts and shall not be influenced by personal bias, prejudice or other commercial interests of the licensee or persons working for the licensee.

(2)     Any political or analytical programme whether in the form of a talk show or otherwise, shall be conducted in an objective manner ensuring representation of the concerned parties and the guests shall be treated with due respect.

(3)     In the event any factually incorrect programme, news or assertion is made by the licensee, the correct factual position shall be broadcast as soon as it comes to the knowledge of the licensee along with an apology.

(4)     Programmes or advertisement amounting to contempt of Court shall not be aired.

(5)     Programmes on sub judice matters may be aired in informative manner and shall be handled objectively:

Provided that no content which tends to prejudice the determination of the Court shall be aired.

(6)     News shall be clearly distinguished from commentary, opinion and analysis.

(7)     Gloomy, sensational, or alarming details not essential to factual reporting shall not be aired as a part of news-bulletin.

(8)     Footages of gory scenes including bloodshed and dead bodies shall not be aired.

(9)     While reporting the proceedings of the Parliament or the Provincial Assemblies, such portion of the proceedings as the Chairman or the Speaker may have ordered to be expunged, shall not be broadcast or distributed and every effort shall be made to release a fair account of the proceedings of the Parliament or the Provincial Assemblies.

(10)   Sequences that are based on extracts of Court proceedings, from police records, and other sources must be fair and correct. Where the creative realization of some elements (such as characterization, dialogue or atmosphere) may introduce a Fictional dimension, this shall not be allowed to distort the known facts.

(11)   In talk shows or other similar programmes, the licensee shall ensure that:–

(a)     the topic of programme is clearly highlighted;

(b)     information being provided is not false, distorted, inappropriate or misleading and relevant facts are not suppressed for commercial, institutional or other special interests;

(c)     the programme is conducted in an objective and unbiased manner;

(d)     exploitation that appears to purposefully debase or abuse a person, or group of persons is avoided;

(e)     intrusion into private life, grief or distress of individuals is avoided;

(12)   Any personal interest of a reporter or presenter which may call into question due impartiality of the programme shall be disclosed.

(13)   Licensee shall avoid media trial of any person in connection with an ongoing investigation and shall present both sides of the story.

(14)   News or any other programme shall not be aired in a manner that is likely to jeopardize any ongoing investigation.

11.  Re-enactment.—(1) The evidence on which a dramatic re-enactment is based shall be tested with the same rigor required of a factual programme;

(2)     Footage or re-enactment of following shall not be aired:

i.        executions or other scenes in which people are clearly seen being killed or about to die;

ii.       rape, sexual abuse or any other sex crime; or

iii.      any case which is under trial before a Court.

(3)     Re-enactment of any criminal incident shall not be aired before 2300 hrs and after 0700 hrs.

12.     Programming mix and live coverage.—(1) A licensee shall show content as per its licence category and percentage wise content set out in the terms and conditions of the licence.

(2)  Licensee may broadcast live programmes if it is permitted under the terms and conditions of the licence provided that an effective delaying mechanism has been put in place in order to ensure effective monitoring and editorial control.

13.     General standards.—(1) Footage that can cause depression or fear in the minds of public shall be properly edited before airing to minimize such effect and shall not be repeated excessively:

Provided that whenever such footage is shown, advance guiding notes shall be aired for exercise of viewer’s discretion.

Explanation: For the purposes of sub-section (1) footage shall be deemed to have been excessively repeated if it is aired for more than once in a transmission of one hour.

(2)     While debating on the matters related to national security, constitutional issues, financial institutions and capital market, utmost care shall be exercised and it shall be ensured that only professionally qualified persons take part in the discussion.

(3)     Licensee shall ensure that no content is aired that:

(a)     brings into contempt Pakistan or its people or tends to undermine its integrity or solidarity as an independent and sovereign country;

(b)     undermines public security or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national or anti-state attitudes;

(c)     contains propagandist and ideological messages on behalf of any foreign country, group or organisation;

(d)     contains extremist or anarchic messages, including the incitement of violence for political ends or other purposes; or

(e)     contains aspersions against or ridicules organs of the State;

14.  Coverage of elections.—Licensee shall comply with the guidelines or code issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan for coverage of elections and airing of related programmes.

15.  Advertisements.—(1) Advertisements shall conform to the requirements of the laws of the country including the laws pertaining to protection of the consumer rights and Indecent Advertisements Prohibition Act, 1963.

(2)     Advertisements meant for children shall not directly ask the children to buy the product.

(3)     Advertisements shall not promote obscenity, violence or other activities harmful to human health or property.

(4)     Advertisements of any alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, illegal drugs or narcotics shall not be aired.

(5)     Any health related advertisement shall not be aired without prior permission of the Federal Government or Provincial Government, as the case may be, as required under the relevant applicable laws and the advertisement so aired after obtaining necessary permission shall strictly comply with the terms and conditions of the permission.

(6)     Advertisements of lotteries, gambling or betting as prohibited under Pakistan Penal Code 1860 or any other law for the time being in force shall not be aired.

(7)     A licensee shall ensure that its service is not used to advertise or otherwise promote magic or black magic.

(8)     Advertisement shall not exploit nationalistic behaviour and use of national symbols and anthem purely for the purposes of promotion of a product or any quality in such product shall be prohibited.

(9)     Advertisements shall be readily recognizable as such and kept separate from programmes.

(10)   Advertisements in the form of subtitles, logos or sliding texts on TV shall not exceed a maximum of one tenth of the whole screen.

(11)   Advertisements relating to telemarketing, tele-shopping or other offers to make phone calls shall clearly identify the applicable charges inclusive of all taxes.

(12)   During a regular programme a continuous break for advertising shall not exceed three minutes and duration between two such successive breaks shall not be less than fifteen minutes:

Provided that duration of advertisement in one hour shall not exceed a maximum of twelve minutes.

16.     Responsibility for advertising.—Licensee shall be held liable for distribution of illegal or prohibited advertisements.

17.     Programmes and advertisements to comply with the local laws.—(1) Licensee shall ensure that programmes and advertisements comply with the Ordinance, rules, regulations, code of conduct and do not violate any laws of the country.

(2)     Where prior permission for airing of any advertisement or programme is required to be obtained under any law, such advertisement or programme shall not be aired unless requisite prior permission has been obtained.

18.     Monitoring Committee.—(1) Licensee shall comply with these regulations, codes of programmes and advertisements approved by the Authority and appoint an in-house monitoring committee under intimation to the Authority to ensure compliance of these regulations and code.

(2)  The selection criteria of the members of in-house monitoring committee to be appointed by the licensee as required under Section 20 (f) of the Ordinance shall be provided to the Authority.

19.     Errors and corrigendum.—(1) In the event any false news or information is aired, the licensee shall acknowledge and correct the same on the same medium without any delay in the same manner and magnitude as that of the false news or information was aired.

(2)  Any person aggrieved from any aspect of the programme or advertisements may file a complaint before the council as provided in Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Council of Complaints) Rules, 2010.

20.     Distribution of TV channels.—A distribution service operator shall relay only those TV channels that are licensed by the Authority.

21.     Interpretation.—In case of a dispute- or controversy over interpretation, purported meanings or effect of any particular content, the decision of the Authority shall be final and binding on all the concerned parties.

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