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Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has directed the satellite TV channels not to air programmes, talk shows, discussions and interviews (on issues) which are sub judice before the courts, including the apex court, and warned anchors against playing the role of judges.
In a statement, a Pemra spokesman said that debates were being held and comments were made sometimes in a manner that was tantamount to media trial.
He said that this was not only objectionable but also against the ‘terms and conditions of licences’ issued to TV channels.
He said Pemra took a notice of the matter after it was observed that various speakers were called and loaded questions were asked by the anchors who then passed judgments. Anchors were moderators and not judges, he said.
He said that in certain cases anchors took up topics in which they were neither qualified nor authorised. He said that such practices contravened the Pemra code of conduct for media broadcasters and the spirit of various directions of the courts issued from time to time. Pemra, as a regulator, has always believed in ‘self-regulation’ by electronic media but there are certain norms, limits and bounds beyond which freedom becomes anarchy.
Reiterating the authority’s resolve, the spokesman said that independence, responsibility and maturity went hand in hand and unbridled freedom, irresponsible comments and transgression of law and code ‘cannot and should not be allowed’.
He said the step had been taken to urge media operators to understand their prime responsibility to abide by the law.