7 February 2023
By Hamza Saeed
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has banned all television channels from covering the recent rape incident that took place at the F-9 park in Islamabad on February 6, 2023.
The media watchdog issued a notification, expressing grave concern over the irresponsible coverage by a few channels that revealed the victim’s identity, an act which violates Clause 8 of the PEMRA Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct-2015.
PEMRA using its powers, under Section 27 (a) of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007, prohibited the broadcast/rebroadcast of news and reports with regard to the F-9 Park’s incident with “immediate effect”.
The ban took immediate effect and PEMRA has the power to suspend the licenses of any channels that do not comply with this direction. The regulatory authority also stated that the licenses will be suspended without any show-cause notice in the public interest. The notification was issued with the approval of PEMRA Chairman Muhammad Saleem Baig.
The rape incident, in which two armed men allegedly attacked a girl and her male colleague at the park, has caused shock and outrage throughout the nation.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), the attackers took the two to a nearby thicket at gunpoint and separated them. The young woman was beaten and threatened when she tried to resist, and her attempts to escape were also foiled by the attackers. The FIR also states that the attackers beat the victim when she tried to raise her voice and even offered them money in exchange for her safety.
This was the second incident of rape in the federal capital in four days, which shocked and jolted the civil society in the city.
Meanwhile, the PEMRA ban comes just days after, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced it was “degrading” access to Wikipedia in the country due to the presence of “sacrilegious content”, giving the website 48 hours to remove them, blocking it later claiming there was no response from Wikipedia and blocked the website. It was followed by widespread condemnation and outrage in the country.