Govt orders Geo Super not to air from Pakistan
KARACHI: The country’s most popular and exclusive sports TV channel – Geo Super – stands punished by the government for its overwhelming popularity and incessant efforts to promote sports. At the government’s behest, the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has ordered Geo Super to stop airing from Pakistan.
The orders have come from those at the helm who have already caused colossal financial loss to the Jang-Geo Group. The news of Geo Super’s closure came as a bolt from the blue to millions of viewers who denounced in the strongest possible words the action as state terrorism against a channel which promoted peace through sports.
Geo Super had earned exclusive rights to telecast the cricket World Cup, and the Supreme Court of Pakistan made Pemra give an undertaking to make sure Geo Super is not disturbed. These orders were not only violated but right after the World Cup was over, Pemra refused Geo Super permission to air from Pakistan. The government has not issued the uplink licence to Geo Super to telecast from Pakistan.
When Geo Super contacted Pemra for a new permission on April 1, it (Pemra) sought several details in a letter on April 4, besides issuing orders that Geo Super should not be telecast from Pakistan. Pemra also warned Geo Super of action under the Pemra Ordinance in case the orders were violated.
An extremely ridiculous reason has been given by Pemra for not allowing Geo Super a licence to air in Pakistan: Geo Super has not been given security clearance! The order based on this flimsy ground raises a question: how can sports, which keeps a nation healthy and united, become a security risk? The World Cup not only united the terror-stricken people but also entertained them. Do the rulers want to deprive the people of their sporting pleasure and let the youth waste its energies in negative pursuits?
The Pemra orders vindicated Geo Super’s apprehensions that the regulatory authority had been pressuring the channel through various tactics, violating the Supreme Court directives for unobstructed telecast of Geo Super. Pemra’s regional head of Balochistan, Gul Muhammad Kakar, had disclosed at a press conference a couple of weeks back that the authority chairman, Abdul Jabbar had instructed him to direct the cable operators to broadcast the World Cup through other channels also in violation of the Supreme Court directions.
Before and during the World Cup (February 19 to April 2), the government and Pemra attempted to hamper the Geo Super telecast in one way or another but could not succeed in doing anything disastrous due to the apex court’s orders. Now the channel has been shut down by the authorities. It has been victimised by those quarters that could not digest Geo Super’s massive popularity and its efforts for promoting sports, and rolled in motion an unending series of measures to close the channel.
The measures, unleashed by the state-run TV, Pemra and other institutions, involved obstruction and blockage of broadcast, and threats to cable operators. Pemra had to retreat a bit when Geo Super moved the apex court. The past is a witness that Jang-Geo Group and Geo Super have been victimised for their stand for the truth in which it remained steadfast.
“If sports grounds are abuzz with activity, hospitals would be deserted”, was Geo Super’s message. The channel, which entertained the problem-riddled masses and raised hopes in their hearts, has been devoured by the rulers’ gloomy intolerance for an independent media.
All this persecution at the hands of rulers, democratic or military, is not new to the Geo network. Successive rulers, be they a military dictator or a power-hungry group sitting atop a democratic government, have always punished Geo for speaking the truth and upholding the freedom of the media. Attacks on Geo offices, torture of journalists, and closure of Geo telecasts are instances that expose the government’s objective to teach a lesson to its victim and inflict on this channel such a huge financial loss that it gives up its policy of upholding the truth. The latest in these hostile actions was the hideous threats to cable operators to disrupt Geo telecast.
Geo Super, since its launch, has focused on promoting local, untraditional as well as internationally popular games and world-class facilities to players. That’s why Geo won the hearts of sports lovers. Here are some of the events that lifted Geo Super high in the eyes of its viewers: Cricket World Cup matches in 2007 and 2011; Australia-England Asian series, Pak-New Zealand, ICC Champions Trophy, T20 World Cup, Pakistan-India series in India in 2010; Pakistan-India series in 2007; Indian Cricket League (ICL) and Indian Premium League in 2008; national T20 cricket matches; and India-Australia series in 2008; New Zealand-India series in 2009 and other matches.
In addition to the above, Geo Super’s superb coverage to promote Pakistani boxers at the international level (Aik Mukka Aur), the first-ever Pakistan-India boxing series (Tasadum), and others including Super Football League, Polo, Lahore Marathon, A1GP Motor Race (2005-2009), events covering the national game, hockey, and matches of badminton, table tennis, tennis, swimming, snooker and others was lauded by all and sundry.
Source: The News