PEMRA clarifies landing rights story
ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister’s Office and Pemra spokesmen have contradicted a news story published in The News on Monday headlined “Baboo set to make Rs4m monthly out of Nawaz’s promise to China.”
The Prime Minister’s Office spokesman clarified that neither the prime minister nor anyone on his behalf ever contacted any person on the issue of Landing Rights Permission (LRP). He further said the Prime Minister Office’s bureaucracy believed in fair play and adherence to codal formalities and procedures and hence there was no connection with any officer referred to in the news story.
The spokesman however said the substance of the news story had been forwarded to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the contents and further been directed to report within next 48 hours.
The Chief Minister Punjab’s Office has also denied any meeting on the issue of Landing Rights Permission (LRP) withany person. Pemra spokesman said a wrong impression had been attempted to be created as though undue favour was being extended to some company or person while granting the Landing Rights Permission.
“It is absolutely unfair that the story has been published without going into the merit of application filed with the Pemra. The reporter has not even bothered to contact any responsible officer of Pemra for its point of view before creating sensation through this story. This kind of baseless and hearsay reporting is not only against journalistic norms, but can severely dent the reputation of your esteemed newspapers as well,” said the spokesman.
The Jang/News Group being the leading print and electronic media operator of the country is fully aware of the regulatory framework, procedure and criteria for grant of satellite TV licenses as well as Landing Rights Permissions by Pemra.
Nevertheless, the right of doing business is a constitutionally protected right of every citizen of Pakistan. Moreover, the very purpose of Pemra law is healthy and fair promotion of private electronic media in the country. Both the Constitution and Pemra laws promote fair and healthy competition and discourage monopolies.
The very function of Pemra defined in Section 4 read with Section 19 of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 (Amended as Act 2007) ordains that the Authority shall be responsible for regulating the distribution of local TV as well as foreign channels in Pakistan.
Under the Act, the Authority has exclusive powers to issue licenses/Landing Rights subject to the fulfillment of all legal, procedural and codal formalities. Nevertheless, Pemra has always exercised these powers in due conformity with the principles of fairness and equity as enshrined in the Constitution as well as Pemra laws.
The criteria and procedures for grant of licenses/Landing Rights is amply defined in Section 24, 25 of Pemra Act as well as Rules 5, 6, 7, 9 and 13 of Pemra Rules 2009. Pemra has neither accorded any undue favour to any individual or entity nor has it been antagonistic to anyone while exercising its powers as under the law & the rules.
Under the Pemra law there is an explicit provision that no license can be granted without security clearance and Public Hearing etc. Thus every citizen has right to raise voice during Public Hearing if any license is presumed to be issued to any unqualified applicant against fair business practices. However, it may not be ethical to propagate unconfirmed story through your newspapers.
Therefore, Pemra feels it pertinent to dispel the impression being given in the news reports with regard to grant of Landing Rights to any individual or entity in violation of laws. Every citizen of Pakistan reserves the right to furnish application for any electronic media license in appropriate and legitimate manner. However, it’s the Authority and not any individual who has to determine the validity and acceptability of the application. Pemra is not a one man show. It comprises a Chairman and Twelve Members including Secretary Information, Secretary Interior, Chairman FBR and Chairman PTA who are the ex-officio Members. Besides, there are 07 other Members from private sector appointed by the President of Pakistan to safeguard the interest of citizens. Therefore, it is out of question to grant any license or Landing Rights without proper scrutiny, adherence to law or fulfillment of procedure by any one person.