Many facts ignored in NA committee report -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Many facts ignored in NA committee report

Tahir Khalil

ISLAMABAD: Several facts have been ignored in the report pertaining to the ban on Geo Super and Aag television channels presented to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Wednesday.

It has been stated in the report that when Geo Super would restore its transmission/programme from Dubai, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) would grant it permission for temporary uplinking within 15 minutes. The fact is that the Geo representative had not accepted this stance and had explicitly stated that the Geo Super transmission from Dubai is continuing but has been blocked in Pakistan. So the impression of restoring the transmission is not correct. He had insisted that the stance of the Geo should be included in the draft of the Standing Committee’s report but facts have been ignored and it has been stated that Geo Super agreed to the draft of the report.

The Geo representative said everybody is aware of the fact that the PML-N, PML-Q, MQM, ANP and other political parties raised a strong voice in the parliament against the restriction on the transmission of Geo Super and Aag. He said it should also not be ignored that Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan is part of the Standing Committee in her capacity as the minister and there are 17 members of the committee including her. He pointed out that the minister for information is party to the case of Geo Super though the report bears signatures of only eight of its 17 members.

The secretary information and Pemra chairman have also been shown in the report as members of the committee. The Geo rep said this was wrong and a violation of the law because they are not members of the Standing Committee.

Moreover, he said, opposition members are not part of the report because of their walkout against the inappropriate behaviour of Pemra, which has failed to explain how Geo could be a security risk.

The Geo representative said the meeting of the Standing Committee was convened on proposal of Leader of the Opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, to settle the dispute between the government/Pemra and Geo but the report does not bear the signature of the representative of Geo Group, which is a party to the dispute, nor does it carry signatures of all the committee members because they were divided and the opposition members had staged a walkout in protest against Pemra. Therefore, he said, this report against Geo could not be declared independent and final. He said the report was prepared in connivance with the government, carries the signature of only PPP members and people who were present in the meeting and thus it seems the members were compelled to sign the report.

The Geo representative said Pemra chairman, secretary information and minister for information, whose bias is visible and against whom Geo has complained, too have signed the report. It is, however, interesting that the report, prepared in connivance with the government, says the Ministry of Information should revise Pemra laws and its role as a regulator. It should also be kept in view that Pemra and PTV have been presenting the information minister the reports on their interests. He said this is the reason that media experts have been demanding independence and freedom for Pemra along the lines of the Election Commission and National Accountability Bureau so that it is free of the government’s influence and could be rid of the practice of always ignoring the truth to favour the government.

The Geo representative said a four-member subcommittee has been constituted on the demand of the government in accordance with the report to review the stance of Pemra that the Geo Super transmission are not on air from Dubai. Geo invited the committee members and Pemra chief to visit Geo and Geo Super offices in Dubai to examine the situation but the treasury members did not respond to the offer. He said there is no answer in the report vis-a-vis the silence of the treasury members and Pemra over the question as to why the Geo Super is not being allowed transmission from Pakistan and why Pemra is not allowing the only sports channel of the country to start its transmission from Pakistan on the mysterious pretext of security clearance.

Chaudhry Nisar has almost daily strongly protested in the National Assembly against the restriction on the transmission of Geo Super. PML-N members, Shireen Arshad Khan and Waseem Akhtar Sheikh, staged walkout in protest against restriction on Geo Super from the meeting of the Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on April 19 while some other members including Farhat Muhammad Khan and Istiqbal Khan adopted strong stance in favour of the Geo Super and stressed settlement of the issue.

MNA Shireen Arshad says it is general impression that Geo Super is being victimised. She said people are worried and sports is a source of mental peace and comfort to them. Thus the restriction on Geo Super must go.

She said Geo Super should be granted licence for transmission from Pakistan so that the sports events in the country could be covered through the channel. She said it is a public demand but the government does not want to settle the issue because of its unjustified stubbornness and rigidity. Moreover, the pretext of security clearance is also not correct because other channels and newspapers of Geo and Jang Group are functioning. This victimisation should come to an end.

MNA Waseem Akhtar said Geo Super should be allowed temporary uplinking so that it could start its transmission. He said his party raised voice for restoration of Geo Super but the chairperson was acting as a party member so they were compelled to stage a walkout from the committee meeting.

Farhat Muhammad Khan said the government should settle the Geo Super issue at the earliest. He said the channel should be granted licence to start its transmission from Pakistan. He asked how a group, running three channels and publishing largest news dailies of the country, could be a security threat.
Source: The News