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PEMRA prohibits TV channels from covering terror attacks

Channels resort to marathon transmission ignoring journalistic norms amid terror attacks, reads PEMRA notification

By Web Desk
February 21, 2023
A view of the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authoritys (PEMRA) building. — Courtesy information ministry website
A view of the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority's (PEMRA) building. — Courtesy information ministry website

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Monday prohibited television news channels from covering terrorist attacks.

Pemra's directives come after its earlier directives on the issue urging TV channels to adhere to the Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015.

In a notification, the authority stated: "It has been observed with grave concern that despite repeated directives satellite TV channels are unable to comply with provisions of Electronic Media Code of Conduct-2015 in letter and spirit."

The regulatory body added that, amid a terror attack, news channels resort to marathon transmission ignoring basic journalistic norms and ethics only to "take lead" and "credit" for breaking the news first. It added that the channels also violate journalistic ethics by "airing live images of the crime scene."

Pemra stated: "Satellite TV channels and their staff are found ambivalent of not only their security but also create hurdles in rescue as well as combat operations."

The electronic media watchdog further stated that information shared on news channels in such a situation is "unverified, speculative without consulting security agencies present on the spot".

PEMRA prohibits TV channels from covering terror attacks

The notification read that such reporting creates chaos among domestic and overseas viewers.

Pemra also mentioned that reporting such incidents gives benefit to terrorists for "using media as a form of political advertising" and serves their ideological purposes by "publicising their campaign".

"Moreover, media coverage of such incidents also gives terrorists an organisational advantage by allowing a specific group to exhibit its strength and audaciousness in comparison with its rivals," the watchdog stated.

The orders have been issued at a time when Pakistan, for the past few months, has been gripped by a spate of terror attacks with Karachi as its latest target after terrorists barged into its strictly-guarded police office — located on one of its main arteries, Sharea Faisal — last Friday during which four people including police and rangers personnel were martyred and three terrorists were killed.

The attack on the Karachi Police Office took place a few weeks after the Peshawar police lines blast that claimed the lives of over 72 people and injured 150 on January 30.

During his visit to meet the injured of the KPO attack two days ago in the metropolis, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir asserted that terrorists have "no religious or ideological moorings, but only misguided conceptions forced through coercion or inducement".

“Contrary to political and other distractions being faced by the public, the security forces remain singularly focused on CT [counter-terrorism] and intelligence-based operations (IBOs) which are being conducted all over the country with pronounced success,” the army chief said.