SHC checks Pemra attempt to close Geo programme -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

SHC checks Pemra attempt to close Geo programme

Another govt move to pressurise Jang Group

KARACHI: On an application by the Independent Media Corporation, a division bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC), comprising Chief Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani and Justice Abdul Haadi Khoso, granted permission to Geo TV to air the programme “Khabron Se Aage”, and passed orders to issue notices to respondents i.e. Federal Ministry of Information, Pemra and deputy attorney general to appear on August 24.

The learned court, in its orders has also said that it was not a violation of the Pemra Ordinance for a licensed TV channel to air the programme of a third party. In a constitutional petition against the show cause notice issued by Pemra, Geo had taken the plea through its counsel Barrister Makhdoom All Khan, advocate, that it had entered into an agreement with Voice of America to air their programme “Khabron Se Aage”, which is particularly meant for highlighting the problems faced by Pakistani Americans in the US.

This programme is aired not only in Pakistan but also throughout the world. The counsel said that Pemra deems this as in contravention of its ordinance.

He added that there had been correspondence regarding airing of the programme between Geo and Pemra. Makhdoom Ali Khan told the court that his clients had been issued final warning by Pemra to close the said programme or Geo’s license would be cancelled.

The counsel for Geo further said that Pemra did not act upon the rules and regulations contained in the ordinance and so far the point of view of his clients had not been heard.

It had further been submitted in the application that the ordinance did not envisage a ban on a licence holder TV channel to air the programme of any third party. In this connection attention had been invited to Article 20-A of Pemra Ordinance which states that no ban can be imposed in such a situation.

The final show cause notice issued to Geo by Pemra was continuation of the campaign against Geo TV Previously too in the reign of President Pervez Musharraf Geo TV had been subjected to adverse treatment and it was closed down for almost three months.

The learned court heard the arguments and after perusing the relevant clause of the Pemra Ordinance observed that it was not contravention of the Ordinance for a licensed TV channel to air the programme of a third party It had also been submitted in the application that to issue a show cause notice was in violation of the Constitution, The applicant was never given an opportunity to be heard in person to know about its point of view. The notice had been issued on political consideration.

The incumbent government has started a campaign against the’ applicant the purpose of which is to inflict financial loss on the applicant. The respondents want to force the applicant to air news of their liking whereas the applicant believes in freedom of expression.

The Pemra is under intense pressure by the government and that was why Geo TV is being targeted and notices are being issued. In 2009, on the instructions of the government the transmission of Geo TV had been closed. The ban continued for airing news about attack on GHQ. The Geo TV is being made to suffer financially with closure of government advertisements. To inflict financial loss on Geo TV, steps are being taken to realize additional tax in spite of the orders of high courts to the contrary.

Jang Group has always criticized the policies that are detrimental to national interest. It has always faced the wrath of rulers because of its policies based on nothing but the truth. Jang Group continued following this policy of speaking truth even after the martial law of November 3, 2007. It played an unprecedented role in the movement for the restoration of independent judiciary.

The government closed its TV channels for almost three months.

It had further been stated in the application that Pemra had issued licence for production marketing, distribution and for other matters. There are many TV channels working under Geo TV network. Its programmes are very popular and are viewed with lot of interest not only iii Pakistan but also worldwide. Geo TV has been honoured with many international awards.
Source: The News
Date:8/22/2010