ISLAMABAD  - The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting Thursday recommended the government to ban airing all foreign contents in any language during the prime time and take strict action against the violators.

Beelum Hasnain chaired the committee meeting in Islamabad which was attended by Secretary Information Rasheed Ahmed, PTV MD Yousaf Beg Mirza, TV actors; Qavi Khan, Laila Zuberi, Asif Raza Mir, Maria Wasti and Sameena Ahmed.

Debating over the cultural and economic effects of airing foreign dramas dubbed in Urdu on local channels, the committee recommended that if Pemra rules allow airing foreign content, it should only be sub-titled in Urdu or English. The committee asked Pemra to strictly monitor television channels as well as cable operators and take prompt action over violations. The committee said channels should run the 10 percent quota of foreign content proportionately with fresh programmes. The NA body called for review of the rules adversely affecting the local drama industry with the onslaught of foreign dramas and sought details of the action taken against channels for violating rules.

It asked Pemra to ensure implementation of code of conduct by all channels.

The committee suggested the government to ban all advertisements featuring foreign models. Secretary Information and Broadcasting Rashid Ahmed informed the committee that the amendment in Pemra law could be made only by parliament.

Replying to a question, the secretary told the committee that Pemra chairman would be appointed soon as the information minister had already conducted interviews for the vacancy. Pakistan Television (PTV) Managing Director Yusuf Baig Mirza apprised the committee that PTV dramas were still popular in the country and abroad.

Legendary actor Qavi Khan said it was unfortunate that no steps had been taken to protect film and drama industry.

Producer and actor Asif Raza Mir said steps should be taken to protect the local industry and foreign dramas should not be allowed on local channels as those were not only distorting culture but also damaging the indigenous industry. He opined that Pemra should review its rules to strengthen local industry, adding that Indian content on cable and FM channels should be banned.

Our dramas are depicting our social problems and highlighting the issues of our society, Maria Wasti told the body.

Actress Laila Zubari said foreign actors do not pay any taxes to national exchequer so their dramas should not be telecast.