Nov 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Censorship

All Pakistan Cable Operators Association blacks out channelsOnce again the national interest has been used to justify a media blackout. This time, foreign media channels deemed as anti-Pakistan are being turned off, but not by the government – by the media itself.

In response to what some claim is anti-Pakistan programming, cable operators began pulling the plug on foreign TV channels on Tuesday night. BBC in particular has been targeted after airing a documentary series that includes claims that Pakistan security services are supporting Taliban – claims that DG ISPR Gen Abbas has termed “baseless and malicious”, though other channels including FOX News have also been unplugged in some areas.

According to Khalid Arain, president of the All Pakistan Cable Operators Association, “We want to send them a strong message to stop this. If they don’t stop this, then it is our right to stop them”.

Of course, once again, they’re not stopping anyone. By blacking out major international news channels, we only deprive ourselves of knowing what the rest of the world is saying – including what they’re saying about us. Rather than contacting those channels to offer our perspective or producing factually-incorrect information, we will simply pretend they don’t exist. Here. Where the allegedly anti-Pakistan information is the least likely to have any impact. Regardless of Khalid Arain’s desire to protect the national sentiments, he can’t turn off BBC’s satellite. The rest of the world is still tuned in.

Blacking out BBC will not make the offending documentary disappear. Neither will it convince anyone that the information contained in it is incorrect. Actually, it may make people more curious by suggesting that there is something to hide. This is why censorship never works – even when it’s self-censorship. If we don’t like a programme, we can turn off our sets ourselves. We don’t need the government deciding what we can and cannot watch, and we don’t need the military deciding what we can and cannot watch, and we don’t need All Pakistan Cable Operators Association deciding either.

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