Show-cause notices issued to eight cable operators, Pemra tells LHC
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday adjourned till Oct 17 the hearing of constitutional petitions, filed by the Independent Media Corporation, against the closure of Geo TV and non-restoration of its position to the April 19 position, in violation of court orders.
During the course of the hearing, LHC judge Justice Ijazul Ahsan expressed his surprise when he was informed that the cable operators were independent in airing or stopping any channel, or changing the numbers of channels on cable.
Counsel for the cable operators Dr Amjad Bukhari argued that the cable operators were not bound to show every channel. On this, the judge remarked that that means it was the will of the cable operators to run or stop any channel, or run channels on early or last numbers on the cable.
“Is it the will of the cable operators to stop transmission of any channel? Isn’t such kind of self-regulation on the part of the cable operators based on any legal framework?” asked the court.
On this, the counsel for cable operators nodded in the affirmative, adding that the cable operators transmit channels as free for air.Counsel for Geo Jam Asif Mahmood argued that under the law and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) rules, the cable operators were bound to show all channels having licences. He said the law did not allow the cable operators to pick and choose and it was not their discretion.
At the start of the hearing, Pemra counsel Zia Shahid Wasair submitted his report and informed the court that Pemra, while following the court judgement dated Sept 29, issued show-cause notices to eight cable operators for changing position of Geo News and sought their explanation.
He said the cable operators had submitted their replies to Pemra and informed it about the position of Geo News on the cable. The court asked the counsel for cable operators if the audience would be informed through an advertisement before changing the position of any news channel on the cable.
To this, the counsel replied that at the moment, 117 licensed channels were operating in the country. The judge told the counsel “not to indulge in another debate and clearly reply the court query”.
The counsel said the position of the channels having reached an agreement with the cable operators would not be changed. Currently all channels are free for air, he added. To this, the judge remarked that that means the cable operators were not working under any legal framework and they were independent to stop transmission of any channel or change its positions on the cable.
The judge adjourned the hearing due to shortage of time, directing the parties concerned to extend further arguments on the next date of hearing, on Oct 17.Geo News Lahore Bureau Chief Khawar Naeem Hashmi, Geo Lahore HR Manager Muhammad Waseem, senior journalist Riaz Shakir, Rizwan Khalid, Imtiaz Rashid, Jang Workers Union President Rukhsana Nazli, Secretary Waseem Babar, Vice-President Muhammad Arshad, Jang Assistant Manager Admin & Security Ali Raza, EMD’s Mahmood Ahmad and a number of workers associated with the group were also present on the occasion.