Pemra taking no action against TV channels: SC
ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court observed that people on TV channels speak against democracy but Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has taken no action against any of them. Justice Dost Muhammad said: “Democracy which is the hallmark of the political system of the country but in talk shows people speak against it and the Pemra has taken no action against them. A two-member bench comprising Justice Dost Muhammad and Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Monday heard the Pemra appeal against the Sindh High Court order on suspension of programme aired on the private TV channel (Geo).
The court directed PEMRA to decide charges against Geo TV programme within 30 days, which shall commence after Eid holidays. The bench noted that in the talk shows the participants ridicule judiciary and other institutions but the Pemra remains silent. The court inquired from Pemra chief whether there is any mechanism of double check about the happening of any incident before airing. Chairman Pemra Absar Alam replied it is the responibility of journalists to confirm a news at least with two sources. Justice Dost said yesterday all the channels run a story the whole day, which was later proved wrong.The judge inquired from the Pemra chief what is the hurry regarding suspension of the programme. He replied that the programme (Inam Ghar shown on Geo TV) was the part of Ramazan transmission of that TV channel and in only one day left in the Eid.
He said TV anchor of the programme – Amir Liaquat, who violated the law has not yet tendered apology.
Justice Dost questioned why before apology the programme was suspended, adding it is like ‘putting horse before the cart’.The judge, however, said the Pemra is to decide how much punishment it has to impose, adding the punishment should be inflicted on both the employee and the channel so that such mistake is not repeated in future. The PEMRA has suspended Geo TV programme ‘Inam Ghar’ for three days but the channel got stay order from Sindh High Court. PEMRA challenged the SHC order in the apex court, which ruled that very narrow margin of time is left as the matter is listed for hearing today (Monday) before it, hence to that extent the petition has become infructuous. The top court said that rest of the four charges are still alive and to be inquired into/investigated by the Council of Complaints and after receiving its recommendations the PEMRA would look into it while complying with all the rules and provisions of law and will also consider the effect of apology to be tendered publicly by the channel and through print media.
The court was informed that many channels, including Geo TV, have not installed the censoring devices, particularly time delaying mechanism to cut off and expunge the offending part of the live show/program and bring it in conformity with the PEMRA rules and provisions of the Ordinance. The chairman PEMRA stated that a team of experts would soon inspect all the channels to ensure that such device is in place so that undesirable and offending programs or spoken words are not aired and the same are blocked. The bench directing PEMRA to decide the Geo case within 30 days disposed of its petition.