ISLAMABAD - The Defence Ministry on Tuesday submitted an application to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for cancellation of the licence of a private television channel for maligning Pakistan Army.
After criticism of Inter-Services-Intelligence chief over the attack on the private TV channel’s anchor in Karachi, Pemra has decided to discuss the situation at its Board of Directors (BoD) meeting on April 24 (tomorrow). The Pemra will decide either to impose a major penalty or fine on the private channel for airing marathon seven-hour transmission against the ISI DG, The Nation has learnt.
Well-placed sources in the Information Ministry said Pemra could take action against, or fine, any channel, which holds a talk show, publishes news item and presents any programme against Pakistan, the Qauid-a- Azam, President of Pakistan and the armed forces of the country under Section 20 of Pemra Act 2007 and Rules 2009.
The sources said Pemra could take action against any TV channel only after receiving a complaint from a person or an institution.
The Pemra BoD meeting will be held at its headquarters to review the situation after the attack on a TV channel anchor and the severe criticism of the ISI DG. After the BoD meeting, Pemra will be in a position to impose major penalty against the private TV channel or fine it.
The sources further said in the past Pemra took action against several private TV channels, but it could not implement the same because of courts’ stay orders.
Earlier, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid on Tuesday nullified the rumours regarding tension among the institutions and said there was no difference of opinion on the national issues, adding all institutions were working under the Constitution.
“There is no tension among the institutions,” Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid said while addressing the National Book Day celebrations. He said all the institutions were united for the sovereignty of the country and working in their own limits, so there were no differences on the national issues.
Responding to a question about the attack on a senior journalist, the minister asked for evidence and said, “Whatever is being presented is the dark side of the story. We have cordial relations with the media and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself visited the hospital and enquired about the health of the journalist,” he said.
Following is the text of the defence ministry’s application:
Subject: Complaint against Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd (GEO) for taking action under the PEMRA Ordinance and the Rules for false and scandalous campaign undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of State institution (ISI) and its officers
On 19th April, 2014, an incident of firing, apparently an assassination attempt was made by some unknown assailants at around 1730 hours at Karachi on Mr Hamid Mir, an anchorperson associated with GEO News, a venture held and operated by M/S Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited, Karachi. Immediately thereafter, a vicious campaign libelous and scandalous in nature was started initially on GEO News channel wherein false accusations were made against a State institution tasked to work for the defence, sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan i.e., Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and its DG Lt. Gen Muhammad Zahir ul Islam. The telecast in question/ campaign was aimed at undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of State institution and its officers and falsely linking it with the terrorist outfits/ activities. The attempt was detrimental to the interest of the institution and the count
ry. Said footage was picked up by foreign media particularly Indian Channels who instead of objectively reporting the incident overplayed it repeatedly. GEO network made extensive reporting of the incident primarily aimed at targeting a State institution and its DG. The entire electronic media covered the said incident as ‘Breaking News’ as well as in ‘News Bulletins’ and the tickers. Details are provided in the CDs along with script as Annexure-A & B. The said reporting has violated the specific reforms and conditions of its licence.
The reporting made and the programs aired cannot be viewed as a single event. Geo Network has a history of acting illegally in furtherance of the anti-Pakistan agenda. If required, material can be provided to the regulator.
The inability of editorial team and management or monitoring staff at Geo failed to either control the content and deliberately allowed scandalous views to go on air. This constitutes breach of terms of its licence and violating code of conduct. Moreover, the above instance establishes that the editorial team and management of Geo has clearly violated the following provision of PEMRA rules/code of conduct, making Geo liable for cancellation of its licence.
a.Rule 15 of PEMRA Rules
b.Para (c), (g), (i) of standing code of conduct
c.Section 20(a) of PEMRA Ordinance
d.Section 27(a) of PEMRA Ordinance
The above be read with all enabling provisions of the PEMRA Ordinance and the Rules as amended from time to time.
Further by virtue of breach of terms of its licence as mentioned above, the editorial team of Geo and its management has committed offences under Section 33 of the PEMRA Ordinance.
Additionally according to Section 36 of PEMRA Ordinance, the offences have been committed by company, its directors and partners etc who are liable to be prosecuted.
i.PEMRA be called upon take measures on its regulatory side to:-
a. Immediately suspend the licences and after examining the facts cancel the license of Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd granted under Section 20 of the PEMRA Ordinance, 2002.
b. Commence prosecution of the editorial team and management of Geo under Section 33 and 38 of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 read with all enabling provisions and the PEMRA rules as amended, from time to time.