Govt suspends transmission of major private news channels -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Govt suspends transmission of major private news channels

ISLAMABAD: Authorities on Saturday temporarily suspended the transmission of independent news TV channels to stop the coverage of opposition rallies here on Saturday against the president’s re-election plan, private TV channels and subscribers said.

Police fired tear gas shells and beat protesting lawyers and political activists who staged demonstrations in Islamabad to protest against President Musharraf. Protest rallies were planned outside the office of the Chief Election Commissioner, who held scrutiny of the nomination papers of President Musharraf and his rival candidates.

Major private TV channels were showing live pictures of injured lawyers with blood oozing from their heads and faces. Police was severely beating and arresting senior lawyers and opposition activists and firing tear gas shells that were aired live on TV channels.

Only those people could watch TV channels who had facility of satellite dish receiver. Three major TV channels said that their transmissions went off the air in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and most parts of the country.

The state-run Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMA) had warned all TV channels not to air programmes, talk shows and interviews in which comments are offered on courts matters.

“I am not receiving cable since 11 am,” Muhammad Wasim-ul-Haq, a resident of Sector G-7-1 said. A cable operator in Sector G-8 said that the major cable provider Webcom disconnected the three major news channels.

It is not the first time the government has forced the cable TV providers to shut the news channels. Such closures take place whenever any major development happens in the country. “It is very unfortunate that the government, whenever it wants, deprives the public of information,” Umair, a student in Sector I-9 said.

“I was off from my college and was watching what was happening in Islamabad but I stopped receiving major news channels,” he said. The government has never been happy with the coverage of independent news channels and has always tried to block free access of information on very important occasions, a cable subscriber, Waqas Banori, in F-10 Markaz said.

Banori, a law college student, said the world has become a global village and getting information is not a problem but the government is worried about freedom of expression in today’s world.
Source: The News
Date:9/30/2007