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April 5, 2017

Pemra to get ‘licence to kill’: IHC


April 5, 2017

 Implementation of Code of Ethics

 Justice Siddiqui observes 10% public service messages not being run by channels; admires sitting Pemra team as best; remarks morning shows crossing all limits; laments no censor on ‘cinema in every child’s pocket, home’; says father, daughter ought not to sit alone in a room; wants drunk people talking about Pak ideology, Shariah banned from TV shows; seeks report from PBA, Pemra

ISLAMABAD: The Pemra report in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reveals that the ARY TV remained on top of ‘violators’ as it was issued 13 show cause notices, two advices, three warnings, one banning of programme and fined 11 times.

The Court on Tuesday sought a report from the Pakistan Broadcasters Association and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on practice of ethical codes and directed both the PBA and Pemra to submit the report in two weeks.

The court passed this direction during the hearing of a petition filed by lawyer Mohammad Waqas Malik against the airing of obscenity in television programmes.

The Pemra informed the court that it had imposed Rs70 million fine in 119 cases besides issuing 166 show cause notices to private television channels due to violation of ethical code in 15 months.

Chairman Pemra Absar Alam submitted the report to the court which revealed that the electronic watchdog took 380 different actions against the private television for airing un-ethical and inadequate programmes.

The report revealed that the authority took action against the private televisions which included issuance of show cause notices, advices, warnings, directives, banning anchorpersons, suspension of channels and imposition of fine.

The Pemra report says the authority imposed fine in 199 cases on over 50 channels and issued show cause notices in 166 cases since December 2015 till date.

During that period, the authority suspended six television channels including Channel 24, Neo TV, Din TV (thrice), Silver Screen and Urdu-1.

Channel 24 is on the second position with 29 violations for which it was issued 10 show cause notices, one warning, one suspension and was fined 17 times.

Five TV channels of Geo group received nine show cause notices, five advices, two banning of anchorpersons and fined 6 times.

The Pemra reprimanded Neo TV 20 times, Din News 16 times, Dunya TV Samma TV 15 times, BOL 13 times and also acted against television channels like Dawn News, Express, News One, Aab Tak and Channel 92 and others.

During the hearing, Chairman Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) Mian Amir Mehmood also appeared before Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

The judge remarked that television channels were not following ethical code, especially morning shows were against the traditions and culture of our society.

He wondered if it was necessary to “sell” a woman’s “legs and arms” to sell a tractor, trolley! He said the cahannels had earned enough money, now they ought to focus on building nation’s values and think of the national interest. He observed that the code of conduct was framed on the orders of the Supreme Court on a petition among whose petitioners was Absar Alam, and added no channel was airing 10 percent public service messages made mandatory under the code of conduct. 

The judge said that the entire nation, not individuals, are party to such cases. What five percent population likes could not not declared as like of the entire nation. He said father and daughter ought not to sit alone in a room, but in morning shows, they (men and women participants of programme) embrace.

He said there was a censor board for two or three movies being made yearly in the country, but now there was cinema in every child’s pocket and home without any censor. He asked how many channels had formed monitoring committees under the Article 17? Mian Amir replied the channels had notified. The judge remarked many things were done to do the file work to deceive, adding morning shows had crossed all lines which was point of concern.

He said that he had summoned Mian Amir Mehmood as chairman of the PBA, and according to Pemra, PBA was not cooperating. He said television channels compromise journalistic ethics for the sake of so-called breaking news.

Absar Alam said all actions taken by Pemra were recorded in the report. The judge said drunk people were seen talking about the ideology of Pakistan and Shariah on TV shows, asking why their appearance on TV was not banned? The judge told the Pemra chairman to personally look into the issue as he had the authority.

The judge said that the court was only talking about implementation of the code of conduct, and not saying anything above that. Addressing the court, SCBA secretary Aftab Bajwa said the appointment of Pemra chairman was illegal. The judge advised Bajwa against raising matter that was not before the court.

Nothing would happen by change of faces, and the existing team was the best. At this, the Pemra chairman said that Pemra was accused of inaction. The judge remarked that court would not have trusted him had he not been doing anything. The court had many expectations from him (Pemra chairman), the judge added.

When Absar Alam said things would improve if the court issued directions, the judge said the court would give him (Pemra) a licence to kill.

Absar informed the court that 12,000 raids were conducted against illegal Indian DTH and Indian dramas and Hindi-dubbed programmes banned. The judge said there should be a censor board for TV dramas also. Absar informed the court the state TV had its own censor board while private channels had their monitoring committees so a separate board for dramas was not needed.

The PBA chairman said that there was over 8000 hours’ transmission by channels in a year and a borad, if constituted, would have to be huge. He asked both the PBA and Pemra to submit a report in this regard in a fortnight and adjourned the hearing for April 20.