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June 2, 2019

References against judges: Pemra serves notices on 14 TV channels for violating advice

Top Story

June 2, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Saturday issued notices to 14 TV channels for violating its advice with regard to the references filed against the Supreme Court and High Court judges with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

The media regulatory authority had instructed all the TV channels to avoid comments on this issue.

These channels have been directed to submit replies to the show cause notices within seven days till June 11.

The channels which have been issued show cause notices include Geo News, Dawn News, ARY News, Express News, Ab Tak, GNN, Samaa News, Sach TV, Neo and Koh Noor TV.

Meanwhile, the Pemra also took a strong notice of broadcasting ‘baseless news’ by Geo News and Dunya News about the alleged misuse of authority by Minister of State for Interior Sheharyar Afridi and Prime Minister’s no-confidence in the performance of ex-Finance Minister Asad Umar and issued show-cause notices to them.

In a statement issued here, Pemra said the two television channels had been given two days to come up with evidence regarding the reports they ran and tickers displayed as well.

It noted that the two channels did not take version of the two sides in this connection, which ran contrary to the authority’s code of conduct.

The Pemra noted that these channels reported that the minister of state had caused a loss to the national exchequer by spending hundreds of thousands on renovation of his official residence, while they also ran tickers that Prime Minister Imran Khan had expressed no-trust in the financial policies of Asad Umar. It pointed out that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had already denied these reports.

The authority said in case of inability of these channels to produce evidence on these reports, they would have to apologise and this should be aired repeatedly during prime time. Moreover, if they failed to produce evidence or did not respond to the notice, the authority would unilaterally proceed against them accordingly.

Meanwhile, Afzal Butt, President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist, (PFUJ) and Ayub Jan Sarhandi, Secretary General, have condemned the banning of media discussion, articles and editorials and making public comments on reference against the judges of apex court, which can be termed to be against the freedom of expression speech guaranteed in the constitution of Pakistan 1973, particularly Article 19 of the Constitution which says, “Freedom of speech, etc.-Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, 1[commission of] or incitement to an offence.” It is the basic right of citizens to know the reasons and causes of any issue pertaining to their interests and the consequences on the progress on society and on country at large, the PFUJ leadership said.

Issuance of show cause notices to media house on discussions on references filed against Judge of the Supreme Court Mr Justice Qazi Faez Isa is against the law and the constitution and ban will not serve any positive impact on the proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council, they said. “We demand immediate withdrawal of PEMRA advice No. 13(14)/OPS/2018/….. issued on May 30th 2019 and avoid such curbs on media to ensure freedom of media, speech and expression and right to know what is happening in country and abroad. Both the leaders of PFUJ demanded.

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