PPF strongly condemns government decision to revoke ARY News NOC; demand notice for NOC cancellation be taken back
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) strongly condemns the government’s decision to cancel the “No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for ARY, that effectively suspended news transmission from this television channel. However the Sindh High Court has since suspended the notice to cancel the NOC till August 17.
We urge the authorities to ensure that the notice is not just suspended temporarily but taken back.
The decision to revoke the NOC for ARY News is a regressive step that shows intolerance for free expression, differing opinions and the undemocratic policies at play where freedom of the press is concerned. It will result in the financial strangulation of a media house and unemployment for its employees.
This is an alarming attack on press freedom in Pakistan and the decision to take such action must be reconsidered and reversed. It is also a dangerous precedent being set by the sitting government of action that can be taken against a television network.
When the current coalition government led by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) came to power, they had shared their committment to press freedom. The government must stay true to their promises. Rather than taking steps that further restrict, repress and undermine the space for free expression, the government should be working to further improve the ability of journalists to work freely and without intimidation in the country.
In a document dated August 11, the Ministry of Interior canceled the NOC for the network “with immediate effect and until further orders on the basis of adverse reports from agencies”.
The move came just days after the transmission of the channel was suspended across parts of the country and ARY staff were arrested and had cases registered against them.
According to the network, they had not been served any notice before this step was taken. According to Dawn, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has since also revoked the operating license for the channel.
On August 13, however, the Sindh High Court suspended the NOC cancellation notice till August 17, Dawn reported.
The move to revoke the NOC has been widely criticized by journalists and media bodies alike.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists President Afzal Butt called for the move to be reversed.
The Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) has also asked the government to withdraw the notification canceling the NOC. AEMEND said “the government should avoid any decision against law and the step has put jobs of hundreds of media workers in jeopardy,” ARY reported.