Notification to ban anchorpersons: IHC issues notice to Pemra chairman
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued notice to the Pemra chairman for using the court’s name without prior or context as means of persuasion to enforce strict guidelines on anchors and media houses.
During the hearing of contempt of court case against media channels which transgressed the legal boundaries and discussed sub-judice matters in live programmes, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that misusing of court’s name would not be tolerated and those found guilty would be punished. The IHC said that they waited for the court orders and then misused them. Justice Minallah inquired as to which part of Pemra law allowed the authority to restrict any anchor from appearing in any current affairs programme.
The court directed private television channels to submit recordings of Muhammad Malick and Sami Ibrahim TV programmes of October 25. The court also ordered Hamid Mir, Kashif Abbasi, Muhammad Malick and Amir Mateen to submit their reply about the programmes.
Justice Athar inquired from the Pemra chairman if the court had ordered him to issue guidelines to the participants in the TV programmes. To this, the Pemra chairman clarified that the court had never issued any such order. Justice Minallah said the court had only remarked why the executive authorities and the regulators are not performing their duties. “You are not performing your duty and that’s why the courts have so much burden of cases, you wait for court orders and then misuse them,” he said and asked the chairman if he has any doubt in his mind he could ask the court.
He asked the Pemra chairman if there is any law that allows him to pass restraining orders against anchors or if he got any instructions from the federal government. “Who gave you authority to say anchors cannot appear in each other’s programmes. Would now the Pemra decide as to who has good character and if he could appear in a television programme,” he asked.
Justice Athar remarked he has no objection if anyone runs a fake news against him, but if anyone is saying that a deal has been done, it is contempt of the court. The Pemra chairman said: “We issued orders only regarding the cases which are under trial.” To this, the IHC chief justice remarked that in such cases he can suspend the licence of television channels. The chief justice further told him (Pemra chairman) that he has the authority which must be exercised under the law and must not use the court’s name.
The court also ordered the Pemra chairman to submit a written reply as to why the court’s name was used in this case. Justice Athar also inquired what action has been taken so far against those defaming the court. To this, the Pemra chairman replied that 70 show-cause notices were issued to the violators so far.
Hamid Mir said that there is an unannounced censorship and message is sent through whattsapp and telephone calls regarding what to show or not. To this, IHC CJ Athar Minallah said if the private channels fulfilled their responsibilities, the matter could be solved. He said they could raise this issue and enactment of law in this regard is parliament’s responsibility.
Meanwhile, the court adjourned the proceedings till Nov 18. Earlier, the court formed noted anchor’s panel as friend of court to assist the court in this regard. Earlier, Pemra had barred television anchors from giving their opinions during talk shows and limited their role to being moderators.
In its statement issued the authority said, “As per Pemra code of conduct, role of anchors is to moderate the programmes in an objective, unbiased and impartial manner, excluding themselves from the personal opinions, biases and judgments on any issue. Therefore, anchors hosting regular shows should not appear in TV shows whether own or other channels as subject matter experts”.