Pemra asked to frame rules for TV channels on gruesome videos
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to make regulations barring TV channels from telecasting gruesome videos and pictures related to the acts of terrorism.
A bench consisting of Justice Qaisar Rasheed and Justice Mussarat Hilali also ordered the directors of major public sector hospitals in the province to ensure that the treatment of the injured persons is not adversely affected by the visits of high-ups, including politicians, after the incidents of terrorism took place.
The bench asked TV channels to follow ethical principles by not airing grisly footage and photos.
It disposed of a petition filed by senior lawyer Mohammad Khursheed Khan, who insisted that the court should ban the visits of VIPs to hospitals during emergency situations, including those caused after the acts of terrorism, as they hampered the treatment of the injured persons.
The petitioner had said the hospitals were visited by journalists, including TV reporters and cameramen, for coverage of post-terrorism events and therefore, VIPs showed up there mostly for photo sessions and publicity.
The bench observed that sometimes, the visits of VIPs proved helpful for the injured persons as the doctors and hospital staff members became extra careful in their treatment.
It, however, added that instead of involving themselves in media talks and photo sessions, the visiting dignitaries should focus on the issuance of suitable directives to the hospital’s staff members and help improve the provision of medicines and other related items to the injured.
The bench observed that the media, especially TV channels, should follow ethical principles while covering the acts of terrorism as on several occasions, they aired gory images and videos, which had traumatised viewers.
The court directed the Pemra to formulate proper regulations for the coverage of the acts of terrorism and other emergencies, observing that gruesome images and film footage should not telecast by TV channels.
The petitioner said the visits of political leaders and other VIPs to hospitals to inquire after the victims of major terrorism incidents and catastrophes were not in favour of patients.
He said the leaders visited hospitals along with a large number of their workers.
The petitioner said all roads leading to the hospital and entrances were closed due to such visits, which not only caused problems for patients but also made it difficult for doctors and paramedics to care for the injured.
He said the political leaders visited hospitals mostly due to the presence of a large number of media persons, especially TV channel reporters, as they made speeches there to get coverage on TV channels.
Additional advocate general Sikandar Shah said the visits of the relevant authorities proved beneficial for the injured persons as they forced the hospital administration to remain vigilant and ensure proper treatment of the injured.
Justice Mussarat Hilali observed that the political leaders inquiring after the injured was not a bad thing if that didn’t adversely affect the work of health professionals.
During the pendency of the petition, the court had also summoned the Peshawar Press Club’s office-bearers to know their viewpoint on the issue.
PPC general secretary Shahabuddin Khan had told the court during a hearing that journalists visited hospitals to cover events and didn’t intend to hamper the work of staff members and that they would accept the court’s directive in that respect.