PEMRA seizes equipment of FM radio for non-payment of licence fee -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PEMRA seizes equipment of FM radio for non-payment of licence fee

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) personnel forcibly entered a radio station on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 and seized and took away the broadcasting equipment, for non-payment of annual broadcast licence fee.

The action by Pakistan’s authority that regulates the broadcasting media effectively shut down the radio FM 98 “Jeevay Pakistan” in the town of Lodhran, Southern Punjab. FM 98 covers the radius of 50 Kilometres and claims to serve a population of four million. The PEMRA staff pulled out and damaged the radio transmitter and took away console and recorders with them.

Tariq Hashmi, Chief Executive of FM 98 told PPF that his station staff tried to stop PEMRA personnel of Multan region from seizing the radio equipment asking them to show written authorisation for this action, but they did not do so.

PEMRA officials said that FM 98 Lodhran was shut down because the station had not paid the annual fees. Hashmi said the problem has arisen because PEMRA has increased their annual fee from 70,000 rupees (US$ 823) per year to 200,000 rupees per year (US$ 2,353). Hashmi said the station has already paid the licence fee at the old rate and has appealed to PEMRA against the increase on the ground that radio stations in small towns cannot afford to pay the increased amount.

Hashmi strongly condemned the action of PEMRA officials and termed it as an act against freedom of expression in Pakistan.

Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)