ISLAMABAD, Aug 22 (APP): The Senate’s Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on Monday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to take strong action against the news channels which had not constituted editorial boards.
The committee, which met with Kamil Ali Agha in the chair,
discussed the ban imposed by PEMRA on ARY News anchorperson Dr Shahid Masood.
PEMRA Chairman Absar Alam said that now a clear directive
had been issued by the committee, the PEMRA would take action against those channels which had not formed any editorial board or committee.
He said the ARY television channel was provided many opportunities to explain its position, but no one had ever turned up.
He said in a talk show of the news channel on June 22, aspersions were cast on the judiciary. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, he said, issued directives to the PEMRA in mid July to take strong action against those who were trying to malign the superior judiciary.
The apex court had observed that PEMRA was taking action against the channels for obscenity but no action was taken for maligning the superior courts, he added.
Absar Alam said that the ARY channel was given a notice and
the anchorperson was banned for 45 days. The channel was provided an opportunity to apologize but the same was not done. The PEMRA had referred the matter to Council of Complaints.
Senator Nehal Hashmi said the talk shows had made the
nation mentally ill. In the neighbouring country, news channels adopted patriotic approach and never spoke against their national institutions, he added.
Mushahidullah Khan said criticising the governments was
a constructive thing for democratic dispensations, but the media should act responsibly and avoid casting aspersions on national institutions.
Farahtullah Babar said the said channel violated the code
of conduct on June 22 but no action was taken till mid July.
The action was taken after the Supreme Court made an observation about the programme, he added.
Rubina Khalid said instead of banning the channel, the
anchorperson was banned. The channel should be banned as it would hurt the financial interests of owners and they would
become careful in future.
Kamil Ali Agha said the PEMRA acted above the law as
the anchorperson was banned while the programme was still
During the discussion, the committee chairman and
PEMRA chairman exchanged hot words. They were cooled
down by committee members.
Absar Alam said the PEMRA followed the directives of the
Senate committee. During Ramzan, he said, three shows and their achorpersons were also banned.
Kamil Ali Agha said the committee wanted to ensure that
all the institutions functioned as per law.
He said the two years effort of the committee in finalizing
the code of conduct had gone waste as the ministry presented another draft in the Supreme Court.
The meeting was attended by senators Mushahidullah, Nehal
Hashmi, Farhatullah Babar, Ghaus Niazi, Sardar Yaqub Nasar,
Sassui Palejo, Dr Ashok Kumar, Karim Ahmed Khawaja and Syed Shibli Faraz.
Secretary Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage
Saba Mohsin and Director General Internal Publicity Wing Nasir Jamal were also present in the meeting.