Local cable operators have been blatantly screening recent Pakistani film releases on their CD channels illegally. After Supreme Court banned all Indian content, cable operators resorted to screening Pakistani films unlawfully. The act is illegal and unjust as it deprives film producers of their intellectual and creative rights. Multinational cable operator Wateen is also an offender.

Cable operators have formed a formidable association. They are becoming a growing power that decides which content they will air, regardless of the law. They were already running pirated versions of Indian and English films. After the ban of Indian content, they are now screening pirated Pakistani films in place of Indian films.

Cable operators have taken the law in their hands. They seem to be exerting their power over channels who feel hesitant to challenge these giants as they own the very platform that broadcasts their dramas. Cable operators who can easily shut a channel down, work together and tend to back each other up.

As channels are increasingly entering the field of film production, they now suffer from a dilemma of choosing between the welfare of their films and the welfare of their dramas. Either they have to be deprived of their intellectual rights by allowing cables to run pirated versions of their films or they can speak up, which may provoke the wrath of giant cable operators such as Wateen, who in return have the hegemony to shut their channels down from their cables.

The troubling scenario needs to be addressed. Epk has hence decided to reach out to the producers of the films which have been unlawfully screened on CD channels and propose solutions.

Hamuyan Saeed informed us that he is quite aware that his films which include Punjab nai jaungi, Jawani phir nai ani and Main hoon Shahid Afridi have been played frequently on local cables. The actor said that no permission or rights were sought and therefore due action will be taken. He added that producers tend to be busy which has worked in the advantage of the cable operators and has allowed them to keep up their practice.

The JPNA actor said that he has not even released a DVD of his films yet. Even then cable operators have managed to air pirated movies. The actor feels that what they have done is very wrong and entirely unjust.

Wateen is one of the culprits of pirating movies. They took the film’s content from ARY and blurred the logo of “ARY” while playing the same content on their CD channel illegally. Their blatant tactic showcases their confidence in their illegal move.

Blurred logo of ARY on Wateen. Film: JPNA
Jawani Phir Nai Ani

Balu Mahi’s producer Sadia Jabbar also talked to us. She said that she actually tried to take action 5 months ago when she first found out that Balu Mahi was playing on a local cable. She wrote a letter but the cable operator did not respond. She then contacted Pemra but to no avail. When another cable operator screened her movie, she wrote to Pemra again, at his point Pemra responded with a letter attached to their response. The letter showed that they had indeed given a notice to the local operators who surprisingly replied that they never screened her film. The producer who was highly disappointed said that such a matter would require a powerful backing that she lacked.

The creator of Balu Mahi was saddened on the lack of law and order in the country. The producer feels that she does not have a strong network nor a powerful backing and therefore her rights as a film producer have not been protected. She said that being an independent film maker, she has not been taken seriously.

She further added that cable operators are unapologetically running Ads on their films and earning revenue whereas film producers who put their heart and soul into creating a film are being ignored. She said that there is a dire need for the protection of creative and intellectual rights in Pakistan.

Epk has decided to speak up on this issue. We suggest producers should take collective action and approach Pemra. Stay tuned for more updates!

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