PEMRA Acted Beyond Jurisdiction In Its Accusation Of ‘Sedition’ Against Geo
Legal representatives of media organisation Geo News have termed Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) accusation of ‘sedition’ against the channel as totally illegal and have stated that PEMRA acted ‘beyond its jurisdiction’.
In August, Geo News had been served a show cause notice and later a fine of Rs1 million for airing a ‘highly seditious and scandalous programme’ against the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau and for maligning state institutions.
During the hearing of its appeal in the Lahore High Court, Geo News pointed out to the court that PEMRA does not have the authority to accuse someone of sedition and prosecute them for it.
Counsels of the news channel further stated that PEMRA’s notice made it clear that its approach towards the channel was ‘discriminatory, biased and unfair’. They added that the regulatory authority’s allegation of sedition was illegal and that it would go to any extent to protect NAB.
The channel has argued that PEMRA had violated Articles 18 and 19 (A) of the constitution. Moreover, Geo news had also contended that it had the freedom to broadcast any news, analysis, or criticism on the accountability bureau. It has further asked the court to constrain the media watchdog from taking action against the news channel.
The Lahore High Court has issued a notice to PEMRA demanding it to submit its response.
On Wednesday, it had come to light that Geo News had been prohibited from broadcasting Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s press conference when one of its anchors stated so during a transmission of live news.
Social media was rife with videos of the recording of the said transmission, in which, Maulana’s address was cut short, followed by a statement by the anchor that the news channel was unable to broadcast the press conference due to PEMRA’s ban.
Paksitan’s leading Geo News has clarified its position that why the channel was not able to air dissenting voices. It is not clear yet under what regulations, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has barred media from giving air time to Maulana Fazl ur Rehman? pic.twitter.com/teOYg6FVd9
— Azam Khan (@azamshaam) October 16, 2019
Geo News’s journalist Mazhar Abbas, in a tweet asked whether PEMRA’s ban was in violation of the Islamabad High Court verdict, in which the court had dismissed pleas against JUI-F march by invoking, inter alia, the right to freedom of speech and expression.
Is PEMRA ban on Maulana's live Press Conference violation of IHC verdict that everyone has a right to freedom of expression?
— Mazhar Abbas (@MazharAbbasGEO) October 16, 2019
Moreover, Imran Khan’s recent statement in the United States in which he had said that there was no censorship in Pakistan was also brought into the conversation.
Due to ban imposed by Pemra on Maulana's live coverage, we can't broadcast his press conference said by Geo newscaster.
But Imran Khan said in the US that we have no censorship in Pakistan and Pakistani media is freer than UK. pic.twitter.com/okWJhuxwhe
— -Maimoona (@LucidViews__) October 16, 2019
Journalist Reham Khan took to Twitter to state that this was the same country in which Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s jalsa had been given live coverage.
Pakistani channel GEO announces that they are unable to share video or audio of Maulana Sb’s press conference as the regulatory authority PEMRA has forbidden to do so.
This is the same country where PMLN gov telecast live wall to wall coverage of 126 days of PTI protest in 2014 https://t.co/PlbMqLI4xH
— Reham Khan (@RehamKhan1) October 16, 2019
Another social media user shared the news of the incident with a cartoon of media personnel with clothes over their eyes and their lips locked.
NewsCaster: Maulana Fazlur Rehman's press conference is still underway, Geo News is unable to show it as PEMRA has made a statement and press conference of Maulana Fazlur Rehman
— رفعت صالح کھوسو (@0786rifatsaleh) October 16, 2019
In the most recent development, according to a tweet shared by Ahmed Noorani, PEMRA has issued an official response regarding the censorship. The media regulatory body has denied any bans on coverage, and has stated that it has requested the containment of live coverage of hate speech.
— Ahmad Noorani (@Ahmad_Noorani) October 16, 2019
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