NA body summons TV channel owners, anchors for airing baseless news

ISLAMABAD, Oct 18 (APP): The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Tuesday decided to summon TV license holders, anchor-persons and editorial staff of news channels for airing baseless allegations against public office holders and members of the Parliament.

The committee, which met here with Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla in the chair, also decided to call the relevant staff of channels “92 News” and “Channel 24 News” in its next meeting for airing baseless news.

There was consensus among the committee members that no one should be allowed to level allegations against anyone without any documentary evidence.

They viewed that Pakistan Electronic Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had failed to exercise its role as an effective electronic media regulator. PEMRA should have taken stern actions against anchor-persons and TV channels for broadcasting such allegations and making fun of people’s elected representatives, he added.

PEMRA Chairman Absar Alam informed the committee that PEMRA had forwarded complaints received against above mentioned TV anchor-persons to its Council of Complaints and the proceedings were in progress. News channels had been repeatedly cautioned to abide by the PEMRA code of conduct, however, few of them had failed to comply with the instructions and necessary actions were initiated against them.

He said parliamentary committees had powers to summon the violators. Therefore, the Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage might summon TV license holders, anchor-persons and editorial staff of Channel 92 and Channel 24 News for airing baseless allegations, he added.

The committee later directed the Ministry of Information to complete consultation process with media organizations for their input and submit draft of the “Media Protection and Welfare Bill”.

The Director General, Ministry of 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.

The meeting was attended by MNAs Malik Shakir Bashir Awan, Waseem Akhtar Shaikh, Tahir Iqbal Chaudhary, Ms Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, Ms Parveen Masood Bhatti, Ms Arifa Khalid Parvez, Ms Marriyum Aurangzeb, Syed Amir Ali Shah Jamote, Imran Zafar Leghari, Ms Belum Hasnain and Ms Naeema Kishwer Khan.