In a stern move, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued a warning to sports channels against displaying logos of betting companies during live broadcasts of sports events. The ministry emphasized its zero-tolerance policy towards surrogate companies of betting houses and urged stakeholders to prevent their promotion through any form of advertisements.
Violation during Pakistan’s Tour to Australia
The ministry pointed out an “unambiguous violation” during the live broadcast of the Pakistan cricket team’s tour to Australia on various media outlets, including Pakistan Television. The violation prompted the ministry to reiterate its advisory, emphasizing that media outlets should refrain from promoting surrogate companies of betting houses through advertisements and terminate existing agreements with them immediately.
Strict Advisory and Compliance Measures
The advisory, previously communicated to stakeholders, specifically listed known surrogate companies to ensure awareness and strict compliance. The ministry observed that logos of at least two of these companies were displayed continuously throughout the live broadcast of the cricket tour.
Stakeholders were urged to comply with the advisory promptly, investigate the reasons for non-compliance with the earlier advisory, and submit a report within a week. The national broadcaster, PTV, had taken steps to address the issue, requesting the removal of digital placements for surrogate betting companies. If the removal was not implemented, the understanding/agreement between licensors and the licensee would be terminated.
Legal Implications and PEMRA Ordinance
Referring to the PEMRA Ordinance of 2002, the ministry advised the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to enforce the law and licensing conditions regarding the prohibition of surrogate companies promoting betting in Pakistan. It warned that if TV channels failed to abide by the law, their landing rights might be canceled.
Directives to PCB and PTA
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was directed to implement the ministry’s directions issued on September 25 and October 20 earlier this year. Additionally, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was advised to halt illegal surrogate betting, gambling, and casino companies operating through apps and websites. The ministry suggested the formation of an active vigilant wing to monitor and promptly block any such content in Pakistan.