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24 News Decides To Shut Down Over ‘Blackmail From Govt’

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Channel 24 has decided to shut down its operation and sack all of its 965 employees, owing to “blackmailing from the government.” The license of the channel was earlier cancelled by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for a ‘violation’ of conduct.

Senior journalist Talat Hussain Sunday posted a text message which appeared to be from the channel’s CEO to his seniors, citing “everyday blackmailing of the federal government and paying legal fees every second day for challenging illegal Pemra notices.”

On Sunday, a day after the suspension, Pemra said in a press release it had issued the license to Central Media Network (Pvt) Ltd. for its sister concern Value TV, adding the name was “illegally” changed to 24 News HD.

The regulatory body went on to say that the channel was granted the license to air entertainment content. However, it was “persistently illegally and unlawfully airing news and current affairs in continuous violation of laws”.

According to Pemra, it issued a show-cause notice to the channel on May 7, 2020, directing it to “revert back to its approved programming content”. The channel “failed to adhere to the directions of the authority despite several notices and opportunities of hearing provided,” it added.

In April last year, the regulatory body, in response to a complaint lodged by Prime Minister Imran Khan against the program ‘Najam Sethi Ke Saath’, ordered Channel 24 and anchorperson Najam Sethi to issue an apology to the premier and directed the channel to pay a fine of one million rupees.

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Responding, the channel’s spokesperson had condemned the decision, saying the channel had not been allowed to give its stance. He said the channel stood by its content and intended to challenge the regulatory body’s decision in the courts.

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Naya Daur