Pemra reprimanded for suspending TV channels, blocking Imran’s speeches -
Pakistan Press Foundation

Pemra reprimanded for suspending TV channels, blocking Imran’s speeches

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Tuesday reprimanded the electronic media regulator for suspending transmission of news channels and blocking the speeches of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

At the same time, the committee was informed by the management of Radio Pakistan that the two months’ pending pension of its retired employees will be cleared before Eid.

Committee Chairman Senator Faisal Javed at a meeting said halting the transmission of news channels was tantamount to impeding freedom of expression.

The meeting was briefed by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) ChairmanSaleem Baig about the recent suspension of the transmission of BOL TV and the prohibition on broadcasting the speeches of the PTI chairman.

The committee discussed the appearance of word “delayed” on the screen during the speeches of former prime minister Imran Khan.

Senator Aun Abbas said this phenomenon occurred only during Imran Khan’s speeches, adding it should either be a policy issue or should not be there.

Mr Baig responded that all channels were subject to the same code of conduct which mandated delayed transmission in order to exercise editorial control. But he expressed lack of knowledge when asked if Mr Khan’s speeches were particularly being targeted by some channels.

The committee directed Pemra to ensure the speeches of all political leaders are broadcast live without interruption in compliance with the high court’s decision.

Faced with a barrage of queries by the senators, the Pemra chairman was unable to provide satisfactory answers to the committee members.

The committee finally decided to invite the owners and representatives of the media channels in its next meeting to review the situation.

Radio Pakistan Director GeneralMohammad Tahir Hassan informed the committee that the required amount had been received from the finance ministry and pension of retired employees pending for two months will be paid before Eid.

However, due to a lack of funds the institution was unable to pay commutation to the employees for the last four years.

He informed the committee that Radio Pakistan needed around Rs1.5 billion to settle all outstanding payments.

The committee unanimously recommended that the government should provide the needed funds to the institution to ensure that the retired employees received their payments.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb informed the committee that no policy had been issued by the ministry regarding privatization of Radio Pakistan’s land and buildings in any part of the country.

A subcommittee has already been established under the chairmanship of Senator Irfan Siddiqui to investigate the matter further and submit its findings to the standing committee, she added.

Senator Syed Waqar Mehdi brought to the committee’s attention the issue of Radio Pakistan’s property in Karachi which was being used by Rangers. The committee was informed that a letter had been written to the Ministry of Interior to address the matter.

Regarding the closure of Shalimar Recording and Broadcasting Company’s YouTube channel, the meeting was told that the private company’s contract for managing the channel had expired.

The meeting was also attended by senators Anwar Lal Din, Fawzia Arshad and Irfan Siddiqui.


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