Govt got Geo telecasts disrupted, deposes senior Pemra officer -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Govt got Geo telecasts disrupted, deposes senior Pemra officer

Ahmad Noorani

ISLAMABAD: A top Pemra executive has blown the whistle and unveiled the government’s game plan to misuse its executive authority and defy the Supreme Court, by inflicting heavy damage on the Jang Group by illegally interrupting the cricket World Cup matches telecast by Geo Super TV channel.

None other than the Regional General Manager (RGM) of Pemra in Balochistan, Gul Muhammad Kakar, who was ordered by Pemra bosses in Islamabad to defy the Supreme Court orders, has provided the hard documentary evidence that Geo was being penalised and persecuted unlawfully by Pemra.

When the conscientious officer resisted and refused to commit such a crime, he was removed from his position, the documents reveal. In a related development, RGM Kakar has moved an application in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, requesting Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice of his wrongful removal from Pemra, Balochistan, merely for attempting to implement the apex court’s orders and for not complying with unlawful orders of its acting chairman. (Detailed report on page 4)

Evidence shows that the RGM Balochistan wrote to Pemra Chairman Dr Abdul Jabbar on March 3, 2011 that he saw no reason for his abrupt removal other than his urge to respect the Supreme Court’s decision with regard to the telecast of the World Cup matches by Geo Super.

Kakar, also referred to the verbal orders of Dr Jabbar, who, according to the letter, expected from him to let the cable operators interrupt Geo Super’s World Cup telecast by freezing the Geo Super signals and shuffling the channel number on cable networks in the province.

The communication clearly indicates that Dr Jabbar gave verbal orders to interrupt Geo Super’s World Cup telecast, a clear violation of Supreme Court’s order. Kakar claimed in his letter that he refused to obey the verbal orders, as these were not in line with the Supreme Court’s directives.

When contacted by The News, Kakar confirmed that he is a victim of Pemra chairman’s wrath after he refused to follow the unlawful orders to facilitate the cable operators to disrupt Geo Super signals during the World Cup matches on cable networks.

Ever since Geo Super got the exclusive rights for the telecast of World Cup 2011 matches through cable and satellite, the federal government is using all possible means to create problems.

When contacted, Acting Chairman Pemra Dr Jabbar told The News that if there was any evidence to substantiate the allegations levelled against him, it should be brought before him. In response to all the allegations, he had a one-line response: Show me the proof. Dr Jabbar, it may be added, was appointed Acting Chairman of Pemra when its Chairman, Mushtaq Malik suddenly proceeded on a three-month leave, 10 days before the start of the World Cup.

Sources in Pemra confirmed that the Presidency is directly involved in this foul play, which continues despite the Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court orders in favour of Geo Super and its exclusive rights on cable and satellite.

The government used Pemra to connive with cable operators and defy the courts, disturb Geo Super signals and broadcast the ICC World Cup 2011 matches only on PTV Home so that the Jang and Geo Group could be slammed with financial losses in terms of lost advertisement revenues.

According to credible sources, Acting Chairman Pemra Dr Jabbar by giving certain favours to cable operators, all during the ICC World Cup 2011 and by using Pemra’s regional offices, persuaded and at times coerced cable operators across the country to disturb the Geo Super signals and shuffle its channel number repeatedly so the Jang and Geo Group suffered huge losses.

This was in blatant violation of assurances Pemra had given before the Supreme Court that Geo Super’s legal rights would be fully protected. In practice, however, it was secretly involved in the dirty game which has now been publicly exposed by its own Balochsitan chief.

Documents show that Kakar issued notices and warnings to some leading cable operators for violating the apex court’s orders in the case of Geo Super. Instead of getting praise from the Pemra headquarter, Kakar was reprimanded by the Acting Chairman Pemra and ultimately sent back to his parent department in an indecent haste.

The official Pemra letters available with The News show that the general public registered complaints with Pemra offices that Geo Super signal were being repeatedly shuffled and there were problems with its signals.

According to these documents, Gul Muhammad Kakar, in his capacity as RGM Balochistan, issued notice (RGM/QTA/(273)/2011/167) to one major cable network of Balochistan namely Combined Broadband Cable Network on February 21, 2011 (3rd day after starting of World Cup).

This notice reads in its second paragraph: “It has been regretfully observed by the Authority through several public complaints that you are not complying with the instructions issued in above-mentioned circulars and found airing Indian Channel i.e. Star Cricket for ICC World Cup 2011 and scrambled the frequency of Geo Super which is clear violation of Pemra Ordinance 2002 and is contempt of the Honourable Court for not implementing the Honourbale Court’s orders in letter and spirit pertaining to the distribution of ICC World Cup 2011 only on Geo Super. Therefore, you are hereby directed through this notice to stop airing any satellite TV channel/channels other than Geo Super for broadcasting of ICC World Cup 2011 (Live). Non compliance on the matter will lead your firm to strict legal action which may lead to seizure of the equipment, fine or revocation of your cable TV licence as per Pemra rules.”

According to the documents, the cable operators continued to disturb Geo Super signal and shuffled channel number despite the issuance of this notice. After public complaints, RGM Kakar issued a ‘warning’ to the same major cable network of Quetta. The letter reads: “With reference to this office circular No. RGM/QTA/(44)/2011/99 dated January 25, 2011, RGM/QTA/(44)/2011/168 dated February 21, 2011 and Notice No. RGM/QTA/(273)/2011/167 dated February 21, 2011 on subject (Broadcast of ‘ICC World Cup 2011’ on Geo Super) matter. It is regretfully observed by the Authority that you paid no heed to the instruction issued to you pertaining to the distribution of ICC World Cup 2011 on Geo Super only. You are hereby once again directed through this warning to bring Geo Super on its old position i.e. 19 No slot, set the frequency correctly and stop airing any other satellite TV channel that is involved in broadcasting ICC World Cup 2011 illegally with immediate effect. Non compliance with the instructions through warning will lead your firm liable to strict legal action which may lead to seizure of the equipments, fine or revocation of your cable TV license as per Pemra laws.”

Gul Muhammad Kakar on being approached by The News confirmed writing these letters to cable operators and revealed that even after issuing warnings, the cable operator continued to disturb the Geo Super signals. When he tried to take some action through his staff, the cable operators threatened that they would get the staff members removed. On this, he ordered a raid on cable operators as per Pemra laws. However, Kakar said, Dr Jabbar removed him from Pemra and repatriated him.

Kakar confirmed to The News that he wrote a letter to present chairman Pemra Dr Jabbar on March 3rd and gave complete details of his services for Pemra and reason of his removal. In this March 3rd letter, Kakar wrote that the only reason of neglecting him was his refusal to act on Dr Jabbar’s verbal orders to interrupt Geo Super signals during the ICC World Cup 2011 matches and broadcasting the matches on PTV Home through cable TV through cable operators in Balochistan.

At one point, the letter reads: “Sir, I am sorry because I was not in a position to obey your orders due to Supreme Court orders passed in favour of Geo Super.”

The sources said that Dr Jabbar had been directly interacting with the leading Quetta cable operators to encourage them to violate the Supreme Court’s order. However, when asked, Dr Jabbar again demanded evidence in this regard.

Kakar told The News that when he met Dr Jabbar in his office to ask him to take his illegal orders back, he (Dr Jabbar) replied that the reason of his removal was that in fact Pemra was removing officers working on deputation. Kakar said he gave Dr Jabbar names of many officials who were working on deputation and also named officials from the province of Punjab who were even given extensions in their deputation period as they were dancing to his tunes.
Source: The News