Pemra passes the buck to interior ministry
Asim Yasin and Ahmad Noorani
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) acting Chairman Dr Abdul Jabbar on Thursday blamed the Interior Ministry for non-issuance of security clearance to Geo Super because of which the broadcasting licence was not being issued in favour of Pakistan’s first sports channel.
“It’s not Pemra but the Interior Ministry which gives security clearance before issuance of a satellite TV licence,” he said during a press conference at Pemra headquarters on Thursday giving reference of relevant rules under which such a clearance was mandatory.
He, however, did not reply that if the Interior Ministry gave the security clearance then whether or not the licence will be given to Geo Super.
Dr Jabbar also admitted that it has been conveyed to Geo Super not to broadcast from Pakistan and if it did so, action would be taken against it. On one occasion, he said Geo Super did not get the security clearance and again said that some directors of Geo Super did not get security clearance.
However, when the journalists protested his remarks, he immediately said that the directors of Geo Super were more patriotic than anyone else. When repeatedly asked as to who was to issue the security clearance to Geo Super, the acting chairman said it was the Interior Ministry.
In the beginning of his press conference, he said Pemra had not closed down Geo Super but had only told them not to telecast from Pakistan as its lending rights were from Dubai and its licence did not cover Pakistan.
At one point, the Pemra acting chairman said that the regulatory authority had not closed down any channel in Pakistan, but in the same breath he stated that if Geo Super telecasts its programmes from Pakistan, action would be taken against it.
He said Geo Super did not have a licence for telecasting from Pakistan, so Pemra has no powers to close it down. He claimed that Pemra is a regulatory body and its function was to regulate the TV channels. “We gave the licence for 15 years and a second licence for landing rights for which there are rules and regulations,” he added.
Dr Abdul Jabbar said Pemra has issued licences to 85 channels and 11 companies have landing rights. “It is necessary that a foreign company should have an agreement with a local company for availing the landing rights,” he said.
He claimed that the Geo Super made an agreement with a company which did not get security clearance. He also claimed that Geo News was giving false news and Pemra will issue legal notice to the channel.
When a journalist asked as to what action Pemra had taken against the cable operators who showed immoral movies, he claimed that notices were issued to them. He said the signals of Geo Super were coming via satellite but were not being uplinked.
He said that Pemra only provided facility of uplinking temporarily on an event basis. “We have asked Geo Super to tell us what they want to show. Till a decision is taken on their application, we cannot provide them the facility of uplinking as they have a licence which is for outside Pakistan,” he said.
He said Geo Super had sent an application for a satellite TV in 2009 but Pemra issues a licence only after security clearance, but so far there is no security clearance about the channel. “We will not give licence to Geo Super till security clearance was there and that was the reason why we asked them to run the channel from outside Pakistan, not from within Pakistan,” he said.
He said Pemra’s Balochistan Regional Manager Gul Muhammad Kakar was not an employee of Pemra as he was working on deputation, so he was repatriated. “He was defaming Pemra,” he said. When asked what the Geo group has to do now, he said, “Geo is giving false news and it should give correct news.”
When asked as to how could he being a government employee call Geo a security risk while Pemra itself was indulging in information terrorism, the acting chairman replied that Pemra was non-partisan and added that he had not declared Geo as a security risk but had talked only about security clearance.
He did not reply to a question when asked as to why the directives of the superior judiciary were not implemented. He also did not reply to the question that if Geo Super was showing the World Cup matches illegally, then why it was allowed to do so.
The Presidency’s henchman Dr Jabbar’s press conference on Pakistan’s only sports channel – Geo Super – was full of repeated contradictions, white lies and baseless claims simply to mislead and befool the people and to hoodwink the apex court which is scheduled to hear the Geo Super case on Friday.
Dr Jabbar, who is executive member of Pemra, and used to request journalists to use the word ‘Pemra chairman’ for him, started his press conference with the words that Geo News is airing wrong propaganda that Pemra or the government had put the Geo Super off-air. However, later in his 30-minute press conference he denied his own words almost five to six times, saying that Pemra had written a letter to Geo Super asking it to not to uplink its signal from Pakistan and that Geo Super only had landing rights but could not uplink its signals from Pakistan.
At one point, Dr Jabbar claimed that neither he nor the government was against Geo, but during the same press conference, he repeatedly admitted that Pemra had not granted a broadcasting licence to Geo Super. He said at so many points during the press conference that the government did not give mandatory security clearance to Geo Super and that is why this sports channel could not be given the broadcasting licence.
When he was confronted that if Geo Super was a security risk, why the government was allowing the Geo News, Geo Entertainment and Aag TV which all are run by the Geo TV Network, Dr Jabbar opted not to reply.
At one point Dr Jabbar admitted that the sports channel is liked by viewers but in the next instance when he was asked whether Geo Super will be given the licence, he replied that Pemra is not giving any more satellite TV licences.
After saying that people like the sports channel, he even said that while granting the licence Pemra had to see whether there is demand of a channel or not. Totally confused replies of Dr Jabbar mixed up the issues so badly that nothing was clear to anyone.
If one collect the above statements of Dr Jabbar given in this paragraph, it could be read as; “People like the sports channel. Pemra has to see whether there is demand of a channel or not and even if there is a demand for the sports channel; Pemra will not give the licence to Geo Super.”
While Dr Jabbar acknowledged the importance of sports channels in Pakistan and admitted that Geo Super was the only Pakistani sports channel, he said at seven different occasions that Geo Super will not be allowed to uplink its signal from Pakistan.
Where Dr Jabbar swiftly responded to the questions regarding Geo Super, he kept mysterious silence when he was asked that it is being alleged that a channel, ‘Sohni Dharti’ is his channel which he was running in the name some of his friends.
He also did not reply that the licence fee of an entertainment channel is Rs5 million while he (Dr Jabbar) granted the licence of channel ‘Sohni Dharti’ for only half a million rupees by showing it as an Â“agricultural channel”.
He also did not reply that this channel was only airing entertainment programmes whereas it is registered as an agricultural channel. He also did not reply to the question that almost in the entire country this channel was placed on Number 5 in cable networks by pressuring the operators for the same purpose.
He also did not reply that he removed his Pemra Faisalabad officer who did not obey his illegal orders to pressurise the cable operators to place Sohni Dharti on initial numbers on cable network.
Source: The News