ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday sought the opinion of Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and Medialogic over the 14 recommendations of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for regulating rating of TV programmes besides issuing notice to Competition Commission of Pakistan.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsen resumed hearing in a case of BOL TV channel rating.
In pursuance of court’s earlier direction, Additional Attorney General Nayyar Rizvi submitted before the court that 14 recommendations of Pemra for issuing ratings to TV channels, mentioning that the regulator itself will issue the ratings.
On last hearing, the court had directed all parties concerned to sit together with Pemra chairman and evolve mechanism for issuing ratings to TV channel programmes in a transparent manner besides giving their solid recommendations and proposals for resolving the matter.
The Additional Attorney General stated the Pemra invited all the stakeholders on August 29 and held a meeting which was presided over by Secretary Information. The meeting after deliberation with all the parties formulated recommendations with their consents.
The Chief Justice inquired as to whether all the stakeholders agreed with the recommendations or anybody had any reservations. At this, Faisal Siddiqui, counsel for Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) submitted before the court that though they had agreed in the meeting while deliberating upon the issue but the 14 clauses, which were incorporated in the new draft, were not shared with them.
Chairman PBA Mian Aamir also complained to the court that the draft which was prepared with their consent was not produced before the court. At this, the Chief Justice in lighter tone said if four from 14 clauses would be acceptable to the parties.
Ali Zafar, counsel for Media Logic, contended that his client be allowed to continue with issuing rating to TV programmes adding that all the TV channels owners are in favour of this.
At this, the Chief Justice said that they had fixed the today’s hearing for framing charges against the contemnor (Media Logic) while the counsel is stressing to allow the contemnor to continue its job.
Ali Zafar said that they have not made any contempt. Justice Ijazul Ahsen said that the owner of Media Logic, Salman Danish, has admitted to his crime and had tendered unconditional apology, leaving himself on the mercy of the court.
The chief justice said that they would not allow amendment in their order, banning the Media Logic for issuing ratings. The court will not maintain the monopoly of PBA and Media Logic for issuing ratings, the CJ remarked
“Unless and until their collaboration is broken, monopoly on issuing rating will not come to an end,” the CJ added.
The Chief Justice said that after the promulgation of the regulations, Pemra will be regulating the ratings of TV channels. This is cartelisation and monopoly which is in violation of section 23 of Pemra law, the Chief Justice maintained.
Additional Attorney General submitted that PBA has no authority to deal with it adding that there should be elections in the members of PBA and it should be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.
Ali Zafar submitted that nobody can understand this issue; therefore he should be given some time to explain it in details. The Chief Justice said that PBA and Media Logic would not be allowed to maintain its monopoly.
Secretary General of Cable Operators told the court that they were not taken on board in this regard as they are also dealing with the ratings. The Chief Justice told him that they should disband their cables, adding that everybody indulges in the matter despite the fact they have no concern with it.
Justice Ijazul Ahsen asked the Secretary General that they were involved in illegal business and questioned him as to whether he has gone through the conditions set for their licences
PBA Chairman Mian Aamir told the court that Pakistan Advertising Association deals with the advertisement and it decides as to how the money could be spent through local electronic media adding that one of its committees has issued a quotation for hiring a rating company for which four had applied and finally Media Logic was declared eligible for the contract.
He said that multi -national companies also give advertisements and they too monitor the rating of channels.
“Who are at the back of advertising companies, we know them. These are media owners who have their advertisement agencies,” the CJP remarked.
Mian Aamir said that among the media owners, only Tahir A Khan owns an advertising agency and has a role of establishing the PBA. Mian Aamir claimed that PBA works on merit and admitted that they have made a fault allowing only their members in the rating net.
“This is the basic fault,” the CJP observed but Mian Aamir submitted that they will correct it adding that the rating was necessary as it has to settle the rate for advertisements. He further said that payment for the advertisement is cleared in 90 days from ad agencies.
The CJP then said that said that how transparent rating could be expected in the presence of cartelisation of media houses adding that there should be an independent body that could ensure transparency in issuing of rating to TV channels.
Mian Aamir contended that problems would emerge if government was involved in the matter as huge investment is involved adding that they being the media owners deeply monitor each other. The court may deal with the PBA matters but it should not be handed over the government, he contended.
During the hearing, Sami Ibrahim of Bol TV submitted that he had requested the CEO Media Logic for issuing rating but his request was declined. The Chief Justice said that both the PBA and Media Logic have created a monopoly adding that when this cartel is broken then the system could be corrected. The Chief Justice further said that he is being approached in the matter in hand. “I am quite allergic of these Sifarsh”, the CJ remarked and hinted as to why forensic audit of Media Logic should not be conducted to ascertain as to how much money it has so far earned.
Meanwhile, the court directed the parties to submit replies within two week besides issuing notice to Competition Commission of Pakistan.
The court further directed that there is no bar on Pemra to hold another meeting with the stakeholders for deliberating upon the issue and to resolve the matter with consensus and adjourns further hearing until September 27.