The Pakistani Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has shut down 11 Christian channels in the country that it claims were not given permission to broadcast.
According to Asia News, an official announcement was made ordering all state broadcasters to "take the necessary measures" to stop the "illegal" programs from airing.
Among the banned channels is Catholic TV, run by the Archdiocese of Lahore. The channel's executive director, Fr Morris Jalal, asserts that this is the first time a formal notice from the media authorities has zeroed in on TV channels displaying Christian content.
"Our goal is not to convert but to communicate to our own communities. We should not be considered a threat," he said, arguing that many Islamic TV channels also operate without the permission of PEMRA. "We too are citizens and we demand the same treatment."
Saleem Iqbal, Director of Isaac TV, Pakistan's first Christian satellite broadcaster, expressed that a ban on cable transmission will not stop them from broadcasting.
"We look at it like it is, we do not have the license. We can only ask people to continue to watch us online. Many people are passionate about our channel, which is broadcast from Hong Kong."
The setup is such that all the TV channels that broadcast Christian content in Pakistan are based in other countries. This is because the Pakistani Media Regulatory Authority does not permit licenses for broadcasting religious content. The state's TV only allows Christian messages to be aired during Christmas and Easter.
Catholic Culture reports that Father Mushtaq Anjum, a Pakistani priest with ties to the media, told Fides news service that Christians have no place in public television channels.
"The proclamation of the good news is now illegal," he stated, soughting for an explanation for the action against the Christian media channels and branding it as a clearly discriminatory law that affects non-Muslims.