The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), an independent and constitutionally established federal institution responsible for regulating and issuing channel licenses to print and electronic media in Pakistan. PEMRA remained in the headlines when they put a ban or fine on at least 3 TV shows last week on diverse issues.
The shows affected by PEMRA Orders include Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga (Bol News), Geo Pakistan (Geo News) and drama serial Kitni Girhein Baqi Hein (Hum TV).
1 Million Fine and Ban on Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga
In its notification issued on March 27, PEMRA ordered Aamir Liaquat Hussain and Bol News to ‘apologize unconditionally to the viewers for airing the hate-speech.’ The apology has to be issued during the transmission of the program Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga, on or before March 31. The decision by PEMRA requires that the text of the apology should be displayed onscreen while the apology is being spoken out.
PEMRA had also imposed a fine of Rs1 million on the news channel. This must be paid within 15 days after the issuance of PEMRA’s decision. The notice further requires Bol TV to submit an affidavit by March 31 as an assurance to PEMRA that no hate speech shall be aired in the future. In case of non-compliance, the ban on both the host and the program will again come into effect from April 1, the notice declares.
On January 27, Aamir Liaquat had described the missing bloggers and civil society activists as anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam, and levelled blasphemy allegations against them, in his program Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga. In response, PEMRA had banned the program. However, the Supreme Court had later allowed the program to continue on the condition that no further hate speech would be aired, and asked Aamir Liaquat to submit a reply.
Aamir Liaquat’s allegations against activists and journalists was met with sharp criticism, particularly on social media. It had also resulted in lawyer and human rights activist Jibran Nasir filing an FIR against him under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), in a statement, had also expressed ‘profound concern over the incessant trend of unscrupulous outbursts of baseless allegations and hate mongering on a satellite channel against journalists, publishers and editors of newspapers.
1 Million Fine and Ban on Geo Pakistan
Another order issued by PEMRA puts a ban on Geo Pakistan, a show being aired by Geo News for a period of 5 days. The TV show is banned from broadcasting, re-broadcasting, fresh, old or repeat on Geo News from 9:00 AM April 3 to 12:00 AM April 7, 2017. The reason cited by the authority was “airing objectionable/indecent content“.
Furthermore a fine of Rs. 1 million was imposed on the news channel as well. PEMRA has ordered Geo News to activate in-house editorial committee to ensure compliance of the Code of Conduct 2015 and use time-delay mechanism effectively.
In case Geo News fails to comply (doesn’t stop airing the show or pay the fine) the channel will be suspended under Section 30 of PEMRA Ordinance 2002, amended by the PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007.
The show was banned after the authority received numerous complaints from senior journalists and regular citizens. A show cause notice was issued to Geo News on March 15, 2017 so they can explain why they aired objectionable content in the first place, they had 14 days to comply.
After giving them a chance of personal hearing and evaluating the response from Geo News’ representative, PEMRA decided that the channel has violated Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015 and should be punished accordingly.
1 Million Fine on Hum TV
In a series of fines and bans, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has fined Hum TV Rs. 1 million for airing objectionable content on a drama serial. Hum TV broadcasted the episode called “Chew Gum” in the drama serial titled “Kitni Girhein Baqi Hein” on 29th January 2017.
PEMRA received numerous complaints from the general public about the content of the previously mentioned episode. The authority issued a show cause notice to M/s Eye Television Network (Pvt.) Ltd. (Hum TV) on February 20, 2017. The channel submitted their written reply on February 23.
Hum TV was asked to explain its position in 7 days. A personal hearing committee heard the representatives of the channel on March 14 and analyzed the reply sent by them. It was unanimously decided after reviewing the objectionable clips of the episode that the content was in violation of PEMRA rules.
According to the decision taken by PEMRA, Hum TV has been fined Rs. 1 million, which should be paid within 3 weeks of its issuance. PEMRA warned the channel to be vigilant about selecting the themes for its soaps and dramas. They should keep in mind the socio-cultural norms and values of Pakistan and of course the PEMRA rules.
Furthermore the authority directed Hum TV to appoint an in-house committee under Section 20(f) of PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007 and report the details to PEMRA within 3 weeks as well.