ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court Tuesday barred the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority from issuing new television channel licences.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of a petition filed by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and also issued notices to Information Ministry and Chairman PEMRA.

The bench also directed them to submit their reply in this matter before the next hearing to be held on May 22.

Petitioner PBA moved the court through its counsel Faisal Siddiqui Advocate and cited federation through Secretary Ministry of Information and Chairman PEMRA as respondents. 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 his petition, the PBA prayed to the court to declare that the Respondent No.2 (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, mala fide 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 licenses for satellite TV broadcast stations, till the time the representation dated 08- 02-2019, of the petitioner, is decided by the PEMRA.