PEMRA has never been this busy before
PEMRA receives highest-ever 27,389 complaints against TV channels between April 19 and May 6; 11,005 against Geo’s ‘propaganda against the armed forces’, 9,310 against Geo airing ‘Indian content’
Complainants question PEMRA ‘lack of action’, say government in cahoots with Geo TV, also cry foul against Fox News, ARY, Hum TV, Urdu 1
PEMRA likely to decide Geo’s case of army’s defamation today
An unprecedented increase in the number of complaints received by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was witnessed against various television channels during the second half of April with Geo Network topping the list followed by ARY Network, Fox News and Aaj TV.
Official documents available with Pakistan Today reveal that the number of complaints received by PEMRA’s complaint call centre against Geo TV was higher than the total number of complaints ever received by the regulator against all other channels since 2002.
This unprecedented rise in complaints was witnessed soon after Geo TV aired accusations against Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam for his alleged involvement in the attack on journalist Hamid Mir.
The data acquired by Pakistan Today is from April 19 to May 6 – the period which saw massive public demonstrations in support of the armed forces. Some journalists also held protests to express solidarity with the injured Hamid Mir.
As per data available with Pakistan Today, 27,389 complaints were registered between April 19 and May 6. As many as 11,005 citizens complained against Geo’s ‘propaganda against the armed forces’ on Geo Tez while another 9,310 consumers cried foul against Geo’s management for airing ‘Indian propaganda and content’.
“Our complaint cell never attracted so much attention since 2002. Each night, our employees had to hear thousands of complaints only through mobile and landlines. The complainants mostly used foul language against Geo TV and also against the PEMRA chief, accusing both to be hands in glove with each other against the army,” an official source told Pakistan Today on condition of anonymity.
PEMRA VERDICT LIKELY TODAY:
PEMRA babus are already in the soup as they have to decide an official complaint forwarded by Defence Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif against Geo’s management. According to sources, a decision in this regard is most likely to be made today (Friday).
According to official data, as many as 65,957 complaints were received only during the month of April against five TV channels with maximum complaints against Geo News, followed by Geo Tez, Geo Entertainment, Geo Kahani and Geo Super respectively.
According to a source at PEMRA Headquarters, offensive language was used in complaints by hundreds of people against Geo News and other channels of the group for airing ‘baseless smearing campaign against the armed forces’.
“Most of the complainants were furious over Geo group for airing allegations against the ISI DG without any proof. They questioned PEMRA’s lack of action against the group, saying that the government was in cahoots with the channel’s management,” the source added.
The official added that most of the people were also abusing Geo administration as well as the PEMRA high-ups, accusing both the organisations for working for the expansion of Indian designs of ‘mind control and conspiring against the state of Pakistan’.
Fox News was the second most controversial channel for Pakistani consumers as 72 complaints were registered against the US channel’s management for airing ‘anti-Pakistan propaganda’ during the same period of 17 days.
In the meanwhile, ARY network remained the third most complained-against channel as 175 consumers lodged their complaints with the regulator against four channels of ARY network during the same period.
Out of these channels, 65 citizens lodged their protest against ARY News while 54 complaints were received against ARY Digital. Another 36 complaints were lodged against ARY Musik while 20 complaints were registered against ARY Zouq.
However, the official added that there were two or three dozen people who complained against ARY’s management for broadcasting a propaganda campaign against Geo TV and its subsidiary channels.
Another 9,171 consumers lodged their protest against Geo Kahani during the same 17 days period while 9,082 citizens registered their complaints against Geo Super for airing Indian Premier League (IPL), accusing that the channel was broadcasting Indian sports whereas Pakistani cricketers had been barred to participate.
Aaj News was another news channel against which 45 complaints were registered.
Hum TV was another entertainment channel which fell in the controversy as 45 consumers found its content as objectionable. Another 32 consumers complained against Hum-2 channel. Another 42 citizens also complained against Urdu-1 management for airing too much foreign content.
ACTION TAKEN ON COMPLAINTS:
Out of the total complaints received, only 24 complaints were rectified or addressed.
Sources in PEMRA said that ‘rectified’ means that these complaints were either forwarded to the prosecution or operations departments of PEMRA for appropriate action.
“As far as the complaints against a specific media group are concerned, all those complaints were forwarded to the council of complaints which is likely to decide the matter today (Friday),” sources added.