Pakistan: Restrictions imposed on electronic media ahead of massive anti-govt rallies


By Nasir Aijaz
AsiaN Representative

Islamabad: Ahead of massive anti-government rally and sit-in, by a religio-political party, supported by other opposition parties, in country’s capital, on October 31, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has barred television anchors from offering their “opinions” during talk shows and limited their role to “moderator”.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, led by Maulana Fazal-u-Rahman, known as JUI-F, had announced ‘Dharna’ (sit-in) in Islamabad, which is to continue till the Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet tender resignation. The JUI-F caravans from all the four provinces and a main procession led by party Chief Maulana Fazal from Karachi, capital of Sindh province, left for Islamabad on Sunday and will reach the federal capital on October 31 travelling more than 1300km.

The JUI-F expects that hundreds of thousands people will converge in Islamabad for removal of incumbent government of ‘Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’ (Pakistan Justice Movement), which has over-burdened the masses with heavy taxes, foreign loans, destroyed the economy causing unemployment and damaged the country with its wrong foreign policies.

While the JUI-F has also called thousands of volunteers from its seminaries, said to be the members of party’s military wing ‘Ansar-ul-Islam’, the federal government, through a notification a couple of days back, disbanded it alleging that the ‘volunteers’ are armed men who would disturb the peace. However, the JUI-F has rejected the ban and the government, by erecting containers, has blocked the main entry points to the area declared as ‘Red Zone’ where Presidency, Prime Minister’s House and government headquarters are located.

In such a scenario, fearing the bitter criticism of the government, the electronic media watch dog through a letter issued on Saturday, October 26, a weekly holiday, directed the anchors hosting regular shows “not to appear as experts” in talk shows in their own or other channels.

Media houses have also been advised to select the guests in talk shows with utmost care and keeping in view of their knowledge and expertise in a particular subject.

“Participants/invitees should be selected with due care having credibility as fair and unbiased analysts with requisite knowledge/expertise on the subject matter. As per PEMRA code of conduct, the role of anchors is to moderate the programs in an objective, unbiased and impartial manner, excluding themselves from their personal opinions, biases and judgements on any issue. Therefore, anchors hosting exclusive regular shows should not appear in talk shows whether own or other channels as subject matter expert,” said the directive issued to all satellite TV channels.

The letter also referred to certain court verdicts and said “PEMRA has been issuing repeated directives asking news channels to refrain from airing discussion, views and analysis on sub-judice/under-trial matters and a number of show-cause notices were served on the channels for holding such programs to derogate and malign judiciary and instructions to tarnish the credibility of regulator before appellate forums.”

“Now, therefore, all news channels are hereby directed henceforth; refrain from airing discussion, analysis, speculations, etc. on sub-judice matters. Licensee should disallow their platform to be used by anyone to mislead public through disinformation/conjecturing and speculations and they [licensee] shall be held responsible for any biased, unfair analysis or propaganda against judiciary and state institutions by their employees,” it added.

The electronic media watchdog also directed TV channels to ensure deployment of effective time delay mechanism and constitute an impartial and independent monitoring committee/editorial board as required under the law.

PEMRA warned the media houses that non-compliance with its directives/guidelines and orders shall compel the authority to initiate legal action under the PEMRA (amendment) Act, 2007. срочный займ на карту без отказа в 19 лет

Search in Site