NA opposition leader assails curbs on Geo Super -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

NA opposition leader assails curbs on Geo Super

Asim Yasin

ISLAMABAD: Following a tete-a-tete between the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, and Information Minister, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, regarding Geo Super’s closure, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Faisal Karim Kundi, on Wednesday referred the case to the Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Information and Broadcasting.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan raised another point of order on Geo Super’s closure after Awan’s statement that Jang Group wanted to establish a ‘state within a state’ and the government would not allow such anti-state activity.

“Even the worst enemy of the Jang Group would not say this because this group has rendered great services to Pakistan. It is pro-democracy and pro-Parliament,” Chaudhry Nisar said, asking Awan to retract her statement. He asked what grave sin the Jang Group and Geo TV had committed to merit the government not allowing the channel to operate. “We need an explanation about why the government is gagging the media,” he said.

Awan then clarified that she had not said Jang Group and Geo TV were anti-state and that she believed they were “more patriotic than anyone else and their services to Pakistan could not be denied”.

Awan said the government had not blocked the transmission of any TV channel and that it had no intention of doing so. “The signals of the channel are accessible to the cable network and it is up to the channel to uplink the programmes,” she said.

Awan said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) is an independent authority, authorised by parliament to take action against any channel that violates the media code of conduct.

She said that the Supreme Court was hearing Geo Super and Pemra’s case and it was up to the court now to decide the matter. She reiterated that Pemra had blocked Aag TV for no other reason but that it was airing cricket matches in violation of its licence.

In response to Awan’s suggestion that a committee of parliamentary leaders be set up to probe the closure of Geo Super, the opposition leader suggested that as a goodwill gesture, the government should allow the transmission of Geo Super and Aag TV until the matter was resolved.

On another point of order, Minister for Religious Affairs, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, pointed out that some media groups were not paying their due taxes and were reluctant to implement the Wage Board Award.

He said that media groups always criticised the government but never took notice of their own wrongdoings. He said that it was time these channels, which owed Rs1.60 billion to the government, paid their dues.
Source: The News
Date:4/14/2011