Ban on contraceptive ads lifted by PEMRA until further notice.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), in a new policy announced Thursday last week, placed a ban on contraceptive ads effectively banning such advertisements from television and radio. The move was met with fierce backlash on different social media channels across the country which forced the regulator to reverse the decision. The protests, in a nutshell, argued that a country battling to reduce population growth should be aware of possible measures to control the population. PEMRA prior to introducing the new policy received complaints from concerned parents of children and threatened legal action owing to which ban on contraceptive ads was introduced. A notification sent out by PEMRA read,
General public is very much concerned on the exposure of such products to the innocent children, which get inquisitive on features/use of the products.
Merely a day after the ban on contraceptive ads was announced PEMRA reversed its decision stating that,
Pakistani public opinion is diametrically divided on such social issues.
PEMRA is still discussing the issue with the board and until a decision is made, PEMRA stated that contraceptive ads will only be aired after prime time i.e. 2300 hours. It also asked that,
special care … be given to the use of language and visuals to conform to our cultural values which are going through a slow evolutionary process.
The opposing arguments on social media makes sense given the fact that Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world with an estimated 191.71 million people as of 2015. The country faces a population growth rate of 1.92% according to official figures. By 2030, Pakistan’s population is expected to reach well over 240 million.
According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Pakistan has the lowest contraceptive use in South Asia. Director of Programming at Geo News, one of Pakistan’s most popular news channels Mr. Muaaz Ahsan tweeted,
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Population is growth is pak’s [Pakistan’s] biggest prob. [problem] instead of asking channels to create awareness campaigns on this PEMRA has banned contraceptive ads.