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PEMRA Acted Beyond Jurisdiction In Its Accusation Of ‘Sedition’ Against Geo

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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