ISLAMABAD - Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Absar Alam yesterday said that first phase of operation against illegal Indian Director to Home (DTH) has been completed successfully with the cooperation of federal and provincial governments.

Addressing a press conference here at PEMRA headquarters, he said the Authority teams carried raids across the country and found only 125 cable operators out of total 50 thousands were involved in selling of Indian DTH illegal and violating the PEMRA code of conduct. The PEMRA teams also took their equipment into custody. He said three television channels out of total 120 also violated the PEMRA’s instructions regarding Indian content. He said that only one untoward incident accrued when some people resorted to firing at PEMRA teams during operation in Sumandari area of Punjab. He said on the direction of Chief Minister Punjab, police registered FIR against them. “The Authority will take strict action against those who are involved in illegal DTH business as well as providing financial benefit to India through this business,” he added.  Absar Alam said he will request to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to take action against money laundering through DTH in next meeting. 

Chairman PEMRA appreciated the federal and provincial governments, Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), cable operators and the people for their cooperation in making this operation successful. He rejected the impression that the operation has been launched on the behest of someone.

Absar Alam said the Prime Minister tasked him to establish the writ of the Authority and stop the illegal Indian content from electronic media in last April.  He said that this was a long battle as this illegal business has been done since decades.

The chairman gave credit of the successful operation to PEMRA teams which conducted raids in all parts of the country and played their role in this regard.

Replying to a question, he said all TV channels are following Time delay Mechanism actively. He said the Authority has made easy way to get the landing rights of any foreign TV channel’s transmission.  He said PEMRA believes in freedom of media and will also take all possible steps in this regard.

Later yesterday, Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage has decided to summon TV licence holders, anchorpersons and editorial staff of two private TV channels on airing baseless allegations against public office holders and members of the Parliament, including Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in its next meeting.

The committee met under Chairmanship of Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla, MNA in Parliament House. The committee had a consensus that no one should be allowed to level accusations without any documentary evidence. The Committee was also of the view that PEMRA had failed to exercise its role as effective electronic media regulator.

The members of the Committee observed that PEMRA should have taken stern action against anchorpersons and TV channels for broadcasting such nefarious allegations and making mockery of chosen representatives that depicts their mala fide intentions.

Chairman PEMRA briefed the Committee that the Authority had forwarded complaints received against above-mentioned TV anchorpersons to its Council of Complaints and the proceedings were in progress. The news channels have been repeatedly cautioned to abide by the PEMRA code of conduct, however, few channels have failed to comply with instructions against which necessary actions have been initiated. He suggested that the Parliamentary Committees were supreme and had the inherent powers to summon the violators. Therefore, the Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage may summon TV licence holders, anchorpersons and editorial staff of TV channels for airing wrong news, he added.

The Standing Committee also directed the M/o Information to complete consultation process with Media organisations for their input and submit draft of the “Media Protection and Welfare Bill” after institution of PFUJ. The Director General M/o Information apprised the committee that the process of consultation could not be completed due to postponement of elections of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists that would be held as per latest information in January 2017.