Repeated violations of code: Senate body directs Pemra to ban defiant TV channels
The Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Thursday to submit the proposed amendments to the law within 15 days and ban the channel if it repeats the violation after getting three show cause notices. Senator Kamil Ali Agha chaired the committee meeting which observed that programmes during Ramazan should be for increasing religious and interfaith harmony, whereas the programmes being aired were not only spreading chaos but misleading the public and the anchorpersons were dragging the sensitive issues to get high rating. The committee observed that channels had been showing indecent and substandard conversation by unqualified artists who don’t have sound knowledge about religion as well as are unable to promote and protect harmony.
Chairman Pemra Absar Alam gave detailed briefing regarding banning the programs while issuing notice to number of programmes and channels. He informed the committee that on receipt of complaints, PEMRA on June 14, 2016 issued a show cause notice to Geo Entertainment against content aired in its programme titled “Inaam Ghar” dated June 13, 2016 wherein suicide scenes of a woman and abusive words of a participant were broadcast without editing. Under section 26 of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 read with Rule 8(4) of PEMRA Council of Complaints Rules 2010, the matter was referred to the PEMRA, Council of Complaints, Sindh on June 21, 2016, he added. Giving an example, he informed that the council summoned the channel on June 27 and after hearing the representative of the channel, decided to suspend the “Inaam Ghar” programme for three days and directed GEO Entertainment for airing apology on the foul and abusive language, subsequently, the said programme was suspended for 3 days. He said Geo Entertainment approached Sindh High Court and Justice Shah Nawaz Tariq suspended the orders of the PEMRA on June 28, 2016. PEMRA, however, filed Civil Petition for Leave to Appeal (CPLA) before Supreme Court assailing the stay order granted by Singh High Court.
He also informed the committee that PEMRA prohibited the reenactment/dramatization/reconstruction of crime related stories, rape cases, raids related programmes, dramatization of suicide in any manner, black magic etc programmes completely. He said that the basis of the prohibition was general public’s complaints, observations made by the Senate and National Assembly Standing Committees, Resolution passed by the Punjab Assembly, observation of law enforcement agencies and observation of the Islamabad High Court, which declared such programmes as violation of the Article 4 and 14 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. On detailed account given by Chairman PEMRA, Senator Nehal Hashmi said that Sindh High Court was facilitating the channels violating the Pemra rule. The committee suggested Pemra to advance the system of ratings and come up with a detailed briefing regarding the system Pemra is adopting to get the genuine rating while involving other companies other than media logic. Senator Farhatullah Babar appreciated Pemra’s authorities for exercising its power discretionally. He expressed surprise that Sindh High Court has given relief to the programme “Inaam Ghar” that has been given warning for four times. He suggested Pemra to challenge it in Supreme Judicial Council. Senator Ghani suggested of taking the matter to the floor of Senate to get the directives of Senators.