27 December 2022
By Rehan Piracha
LAHORE: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on Tuesday rejected show-cause notices to news channel by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) over coverage of a suicide bombing in Islamabad, urging the federal government to refrain from muzzling media freedom in the country.
A day earlier, the Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) also rejected the show-cause notices issued by PEMRA to news channels over the recent blast in Islamabad. It termed the move as a misuse of PEMRA rules and a cowardly attempt to put pressure on the channels.
Responding to PEMRA notices, PFUJ President Afzal Butt said the present Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz coalition government in the federation has failed to fulfill promises towards safeguarding the freedom of the press it had made while it was in the opposition. “The PML-N government is faring worse as compared to the previous Pakistan Tehrik Insaf government in terms of safety and protection of journalists in the country,” he said.
The PFUJ president said PEMRA was supposed to be an independent institution but in reality, was acting on the whims of Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and the federal government. “The PFUJ rejects show-cause notices to news channels over coverage of the Islamabad blast and calls on the Pakistan Broadcast Association and other representative media bodies to chalk out a joint response to such measures to stifle and censor media freedom in the country,” he added.
Separately, AEMEND stated that news channels show utmost responsibility and professionalism while reporting on national security, terrorism incidents, religious hatred, and sensitive issues, including reporting the recent blast in Islamabad. “All the rules and social norms framed by PEMRA were taken into consideration during the period but despite the issuance of unnecessary notices reflects the malicious and nefarious intentions of PEMRA which is proof that PEMRA has targeted all the channels by issuing general show-cause notices instead of identifying any channel individually.”
AEMEND has said that the Pakistani media has carried out its national responsibility in a good manner even in the frequent terrorism incidents in the country, adding that the news channels took extreme caution in reporting about the terrorism incident in which security personnel was taken hostage by terrorists. According to AEMEND, news channels have always avoided news that could potentially benefit terrorists.