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    Airing of foreign content to be taxed at higher rates: Fawad Chaudhry

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    Airing of foreign content to be taxed at higher rates: Fawad Chaudhry: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said Wednesday the government plans to impose higher taxes on foreign content as the local film and drama industry had taken a hit due to it.

    Addressing a press conference after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Information Ministry, Pakistan Television, and the Arts Council of Pakistan regarding National Entertainment Awards, Chaudhry said the government had finalized a new film policy through which it aims to incentivize the industry.

    Chaudhry said in the new policy, the government had proposed the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) charge higher tax if a channel is airing foreign dramas so that they should not be cheaper than local ones.

    “Our television channels have made it a norm to import foreign dramas, which is comparatively cheaper than the local ones, and as a result, our local dramas have suffered a huge blow,” he said.

    “Foreign actors are being hired for advertisements; our actors are remaining unemployed — and without any reason — foreign actors are being hired,” he said.

    Regretting that major companies ignore local talent for their advertisements, the information minister said that the government would also impose heavy taxes on such ads — to pave way for Pakistani artists.

    Awards and MoU

    Shedding light on the MoU, he said the government would try to revive all the mediums — music, drama, and films — through it.

    Chaudhry said under the MoU, the government would bestow 22 awards, which will be given to the top Pakistani musicians, artists, and films. “We will also distribute Rs250 million through these awards.”

    He said the National Entertainment Awards would be the largest in the history of the country.

    Chaudhry said he was hopeful the masses would again be interested in the country’s dramas and films through these measures.

    “We weakened those who could narrate Pakistan’s story […] we were the third biggest filmmakers in the 1960s. Similarly, Pakistan ranked third or fourth when it came to cinema screens,” he said.

    The information minister Fawad said “with much effort”, we ruined our film and drama industry, and now, our music is headed in the same direction.

    Advertisement policy

    Chaudhry also said for the first time, entertainment channels have been included in the government’s advertisement policy — they will be strengthened.

    Ease for filmmakers

    The government is simplifying the process to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) to shoot films in the country, as Pakistan has one of the most beautiful sites in the world, he said.

    The information minister said, as a result, foreign filmmakers could also easily shoot their films in Pakistan.

    Chaudhry said a film-making division was also established in PTV, and currently, two multi-million dollar films on Zaheer Uddin Babar and Tipu Sultan were under production.

    “These movies will be made on international standards,” he said.

    The information minister urged young filmmakers to reach out to the PTV, pitch their ideas, and if selected, the government would promote and advertise them.

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