TV channels ordered to go off air

ISLAMABAD –  On the directives of Prime Minster Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority on Saturday morning stopped private TV channels from live coverage of the operation launched by the government against protesters staging a sit-in at Faizabad Interchange.

Transmission of all private satellite news channels was suspended by the PEMRA across the country after clashes between law enforcement agencies and the protesters erupted at the main sit-in venue, where workers and supporters of the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYLR) have camped out for the last over two weeks.

A PEMRA spokesperson said that the authority took the action on the instruction of the prime minister who had directed the regulator to suspend transmission of all private TV channels. She said that the prime minister has powers to issue such directives to the media regulator.

A statement issued by the PEMRA said: “It is informed that under the Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct 2015, live coverage of any security operation is prohibited. Therefore, all the satellite TV channels licences are directed to exhibit utmost senility on the matter and comply with clause 8(8) of Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisement) Code of Conduct 2015 in letter and spirit and refrain from live coverage of the ongoing operation at Faizabad, Islamabad. The relevant clause is reproduced and there is no live coverage of any ongoing security operation by the law enforcement agencies and licencee shall air only such information as may be warranted by the security agency in charge of the operation.”

It further said: “Moreover, media houses are also requested to ensure safety and security of their field staff. In this regard camera crew and reporters should not go beyond the point as identified by the in charge of the operation and ensure cooperation with law enforcement agencies. In case of any kind of violation, observed/reported, strict action under the relevant provisions of the PEMRA laws shall be initiated.”

Sources said that the prime minister passed the orders to the PEMRA on the request of the federal capital administration which believed that the live coverage was compromising the operation against the protesters.

The state-run PTV was allowed to broadcast its transmission, however.

On the other hand, services of social media networks including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube was also blocked in different parts of the country.


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