November 29th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
Senior journalist Najam Sethi on Monday said he did not violate any law or any conditionality of the Pakistan Media Regularity Authority (PEMRA) while conducting his show on the 24 News HD channel after the broadcaster regulator issued a show-cause notice to the channel management accusing the host of incitement of violence.
On November 26, PEMRA slapped a show-cause on the channel’s management claiming that the host of Najam Sethi Show ‘while commenting on a call for Long-March by some political parties passed highly objectionable remarks which tantamount to incitement to violence’ in the progamme aired on November 24.
Interestingly, the PEMRA notice was issued the same day when Federal Minister for Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari shared a tweet from the party’s Twitter lead depicting a short clip of the Najam Sethi show.
“He is inciting violence and a physical attack on the PM. He should be charged under the law or is he “untouchable”? The man was seeing the fall of PTI & Imran Khan for so long without success he has now become a desperado! Pathetic!,” Mazari said in her tweet, accusing the senior journalist of inciting a physical attack on her party’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Speaking to Voicepk.net from London, Najam Sethi said the broadcast regulator had not quoted his objectionable remarks in the show-cause notice which it deemed as incitement to violence. “The one-and-half minute clip of the show circulating on social media is taken out of context,” Sethi said. I
“In the show, I was explaining the thinking within the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement on how it plans to oust the ruling Pakistan Tehrik Insaf government through a long march and not giving my opinion on what the opposition should do,” the senior journalist said.
In its notice, PEMRA said the channel management violated the PEMRA Act, rules, and code of conduct that expressly prohibited news channels from carrying programmes that contain incitement to an offense. “I have not violated any law or any PEMRA conditionality,” Sethi said in response to a question on whether the show violated the PEMRA law.
Sethi termed the PEMRA notice mala fide saying the channel fully supported what he had said in the show. “The notice is mala fide: there is no mention of any offensive comment attributed to me,” Sethi said.
Besides, Sethi said, the regulator did not mention that it had received any complaint(s) against the show from the viewers. “It was unilaterally issued without a complainant,” he said, adding that PEMRA had given only seven days for a response instead of the routine two weeks.
The senior journalist said his channel would contest the show-case notice. “The channel intends to challenge it at every available forum to expose the mala fides of PEMRA at the behest of the PTI government,” Sethi said in response whether the notice would be challenged at other legal forums.
Khurram Kaleem, Director Programmes, Channel 24 News HD, said the management was looking into the show-cause notice and would respond through the proper legal mechanism.
PEMRA has directed the channel management to submit a response by December 3. The authority is empowered to impose fines and suspend or revoke the license of a channel in case of violations of the PEMRA law.