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July 11, 2020

Pemra bars BOL News from airing content against Geo News

Top Story

July 11, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has stopped private TV channel BOL News from broadcasting or rebroadcasting any content against the Geo Group, its management and their families immediately. In case of non-compliance, legal action would be initiated against M/s Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd, the parent company of BOL News.

In its order, it was explained that the channel had been prohibited under Section 27 of Pemra Ordinance, 2002, as amended by Pemra (Amendment) Act 2007 bythe Authority by exercising its powers under the ordinance and the act. And non-compliance, legal action will be initiated under Section 29, 30 and 33 of Pemra laws.

“Pemra is in receipt of three complaints of May 09, 12 and 15, 2020 filed by M/s Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd/Geo News against M/s Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd. for airing false and frivolous allegations against the management of Geo Group,” it said.

The Authority said that on April 24 this year at 15:51 hrs, 21:48 hrs, 22:31 hrs with its news story/ tickers, on May 13, 2020 at 21:53 and repeatedly broadcasted in programmes, including news headlines/ stories news tickers and others in first week of May this year, such content was aired.

“These complaints along with CDs received from Geo Group were forwarded to the channel on June 12, which were returned, as no one was willing to receive them. Subsequently, these were delivered to the company by hand, but the company did not give any response and even on the day of issuance of this order, there has been no response from them,” said the order.

These allegations/hate speech posed against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Editor-in-Chief of Jang Group and Geo TV Network, by M/s Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd are:

1. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had committed Touheen-e-Risalat.

2. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman Media Firaon

3. Management of the channel airing blasphemous content against the family of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). They received money for the same.

“This content was aired repeatedly by BOL News but no supportive material was shared. In view of the regional council of complaints being dysfunctional, Pemra examined the matter and noted that the content was extremely dangerous and can put anyone’s life in danger including their family members as well. It is also explored that whenever the content was aired on BOL News, there was never any supportive material, documents or evidence provided to prove its authenticity,” the order said.

In its order, Pemra referred to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a case of PLD 2018 SC72 (suo motu) 7/2017, in which it had held that it is a matter of grave concern when inflammatory, provocative or abusive statements are broadcast as these have the effect of fanning the flames…broadcasters cannot encourage violence, activism, militancy or hatred.

The apex court had, it noted, directed to exercise extreme vigilance of electronic media to ensure that the electronic media is strictly complying with the provisions of Pemra ordinance, failing which they should be proceeded against in accordance with the law.

It also cited that on defiance of the Supreme Court order of March 06, 2017, the apex court had initiated contempt proceedings on petitions No. 58 and 65 of 2017, regarding wild allegations leveled against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. However, after accepting of an apology, tendered by Dr Amir Liaquat Hussain on December 13, 2018, had disposed of the matter accordingly.

And, the order also mentioned the undertakings given by Dr Shahid Masood and News One channel when the apex court had said that these could be taken up by this court at any time in case of any deviation is brought to the notice of this court.

The Pemra order says that by preceding judgements and laws, the contents aired by BOL News are uncalled, unqualified and unequitable. It noted the channel while airing the content, i.e. ‘hate speech’, had never showed, displayed or produced any documentary evidence to substantiate the authenticity and facts of the content nor provided its platform to Geo Group for responding to allegations leveled thereof by the channel.

“This is ample reason to prohibit telecast of content on the channel. The Supreme Court in the matter of suo motu case no 28 of 2018 directed Pemra to ensure implementation of its code of conduct and Pemra has from time to time, directed all licensees, including M/s Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd to show utmost care while reporting news, passing remarks and for air any material which might lead to unrest and conflict in the society,” the order said.