ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday rejected a petition filed by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) against the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for issuing new television channel licences.

A single Bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah announced the verdict which it had reserved earlier after hearing arguments of all the sides.

The PBA had moved the court through its counsel Faisal Siddiqui Advocate. It maintained in the petition that PEMRA had issued licences to 119 channels while it was only allowed to grant 80.

The counsel told that the Sindh High Court (SHC) had also ordered PEMRA to take a decision after PBA’s appeal.

He added that PEMRA had to take a decision within 15 days from March 12 and instead of taking a decision, PEMRA started the auction of TV licences.

The IHC Chief Justice asked from PBA’s counsel what difference the issuance of new licences make. At this, Siddiqui stated that PEMRA is not allowed to issue licences that it has been issuing.

He said that their petition questions why PEMRA is issuing a new licence when it cannot do so.

In the petition, the PBA prayed to the court to declare that the Pemra cannot issue further licences for satellite TV broadcast stations till it decides the representation dated 08-02-2019 and that any steps taken by the PEMRA pursuant to the Press release dated 15-03-2019, letter dated 17-04-2019, the auction proceedings held by the PEMRA on 02-05-2019 and 03-05-2019, and any steps taken in furtherance of it, are unconstitutional, illegal, malafide and of no legal effect.

It requested the court to restrain the PEMRA from taking any steps, whatsoever and the auction proceedings held by the Respondent No.2 on 02-05- 2019 and 03-05-2019 in relation to issuance of further licences for satellite TV broadcast stations, till the time the representation dated 08- 02-2019, of the petitioner, is decided by the PEMRA.