Pakistan’s media regulator issues notices to TV channels for violating its decision
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on June 1, 2019 issued show cause notices to 14 TV channels for violating its advice to avoid commenting on reference filed against the Supreme Court and High Court judges with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
On May 31, PEMRA, the regulator of television and radio stations in Pakistan, barred TV channels from broadcasting news or analysis on the matter except news regarding the reference that government filed against the judges for allegedly owning properties abroad.
The regulatory body has quoted the Supreme Court judgment on July 2018, in which the media organizations were directed that no media analysis, opinion or editorials would be written or published and no public comments would be made on the proceedings of the SJC except for the case proceedings.
On September 2018, the Supreme Court in a suo motu case has also banned discussions on sub-judice matters.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President, Afzal Butt and Secretary General, Ayub Jan Sirhandi in a joint statement condemned the decision of regulatory body and termed it against the freedom of expression and speech guaranteed in the constitution of Pakistan 1973.
PFUJ leaders added, “We demand immediate withdrawal of PEMRA advice No. 13(14)/OPS/2018 issued on May 30th 2019 and avoid such curbs on media to ensure freedom of media, speech and expression and right to know what is happening in country and abroad.”
The Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) also condemned the issuance of notice to channels and demanded immediate withdrawal of decision.
Ashraf Khan, President of KUJ said, “Article 19 (A) guarantees protection of individual right of free expression of their views as well as a free media and PEMRA has been violating the Constitution by issuing arbitrary notices to news channels.”
The channels who were issued notices include Geo News, Dawn News, Dunya News, ARY News, Channel 24, 92 News, Express News, Aaj News, Abb Takk News, GNN, Samaa TV, Sach News, Neo TV and Koh-i-Noor TV.
PEMRA has directed the TV channels to ensure the orders issued by the Supreme Court, SJC and all advisories issued by the regulatory body are followed and also ordered these channels to submit their responses by June 11.