Pemra to punish those making baseless charges against judiciary, army
LAHORE: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), in the light of the Supreme Court’s directives, has warned all TV channels to ensure that none of their employees or guests are involved in advocating rolling back the democratic set-up and inciting the chief justice or the army chief to take any unconstitutional step.
It also says it must also be guaranteed that they do not level baseless allegations and use insulting language against parliament, judiciary, army or any other constitutional institution.
The Pemra has also called for stopping the practice of declaring people traitors, spreading anarchy in society and promoting violence and hate.
In a declaration issued on Thursday, the regulatory body said the first violation would lead to a fine up to Rs1,000,000 and the order to announce an apology under Section 29, followed by closure of programme under Section 27 in case of second violation and suspension or cancellation of licence under Section 30 for third violation. For the fourth violation, a case would be registered against the accused TV channel’s chief operating officer/ managing director/ chairman/ CEO/ director/ share holder or owners, which can be punishable by three-year imprisonment or fine or both.
It said the Supreme Court observed on May 24 that the Pemra took action against programme content containing obscenity but was silent over programmes, analyses or news on several sensitive and important matters, which included those against the ideology of Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal, insulted the constitutional institutions, incited the judiciary and the army against the democratic set-up, defamed the people and promoted sectarianism and extremism. According to the statement, the apex court also said the Pemra should give an exemplary punishment and not just warning or advice.
The Pemra was directed to take an immediate and strict action against those TV channels and programmes violating the Constitution and law and submit a report to the Supreme Court.
According to the statement, the Pemra issued 40 pieces of advice and 16 warnings to various TV channels since Dec 2015 to make them pay attention to the continuous violations of code of conduct. However, some TV channels and anchors/analysts took undue advantage of this soft policy and continued declaring people criminals through allegations and acting as courts, thus forcing a respectable constitutional institution to warn the Pemra and the media.
The regulatory body made it clear that the Constitution, rules and regulations signed while obtaining TV licence and Pemra laws made all the channels bound to respect all the constitutional institutions, avoid allegations and not to interfere in the tasks of courts and police.
According to the Pemra statement, the TV channels must also keep in mind that no such analysis or word is aired which is disrespectful to these institutions.
Setting up courts, issuing verdicts and defaming everyone on TV screen are not only a violation of human rights granted by the Constitution but also against the journalistic principles and professional ethics.
Like all the democratic and civilised countries, the Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan provides freedom of expression; however, the Pakistani media – like those in democratic and civilised countries – would have to follow the law and act in a responsible manner while enjoying the same freedom.
It is a legal, moral and professional responsibility of Pemra to protect the image of the Pakistani media and thousands of journalists as well as promoting reliable journalism and expression of freedom.