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Pakistani cabinet, central bank prohibit subscribing to Zee5, other Indian streaming services: Report

Photo showing a laptop, a book and a smartphone chained under lock and key. Censorship.

We missed this earlier: The State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan’s central bank, prohibited banks on November 9 from letting customers pay for Zee5 and other Indian streaming services, Dawn reported. While the SBP order doesn’t restrict access to sites like Zee5, it certainly limits the advertising revenue possible from it. This comes weeks after Zee5 restored the Pakistani show Churails in the country, after public backlash for taking the show down in response to a request from the country’s government. We have reached out to the State Bank of Pakistan and the Pakistan Banks’ Association to confirm the development.

While this order in itself does not block access to sites like Zee5, it refers to a notification by the Pakistani government’s cabinet, which we were not able to find a copy of online. It is thus possible that a ban on the website may also be happening side by side. Hasan Zaidi, a filmmaker and journalist who works as an editor at Dawn, posted an image of the order online.

This has the somewhat bizarre outcome that Pakistani content on Zee5 — like Churails — cannot be watched by the people of the country where that content originated. Zee5 is available globally, and has been promoting Pakistani shows like Churails and Ek Jhoothi Love Story to Indian audiences, years after it halted its efforts to distribute Pakistani TV shows in India.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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