March 18, 2023
By Ahmed Saeed
Lawyers, journalists and press bodies have condemned the ban imposed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) “live/recorded coverage of any kind of coverage of any kind of rally, public gathering, procession by any party, organisation and individual etc. for today i.e. March 18, 2023 including from the Judicial Complex, Islamabad.”
The PEMRA order, while referring to clashes between police and PTI workers outside Zaman Park in Lahore, stated that it had “observed with concern” that satellite TV channels were “showing live footages (sic) / images of a violent mob, attacks on police and law enforcing agencies.”
The order added that “the live telecast of such footage on different satellite TV channels created chaos and panic among viewers and the police. Such activism by the mob not only jeopardises law and order situation but also makes public properties and lives vulnerable”.
PEMRA has imposed this restriction under sections 20 and 27 (a) of the Pemra Ordinance 2002.
‘PEMRA ban a violation of LHC order’
According to Barrister Ahmed Pansota, today’s ban is a violation of the Lahore High Court’s order, which has issued a stay order on PEMRA’s ban on Imran Khan’s speeches.
Earlier, PEMRA had imposed a complete ban on showing Imran Khan’s speeches on March 5.
The LHC suspended the ban on Imran Khan’s speeches until the next hearing. The court will hear the matter on March 20, Monday.
“We will also file a new petition challenging today’s ban as well because it is completely illegal, Pansota said. He added that he will also file a contempt application against Pemra.
Pemra should not have the power to impose ban
Nasir Zaidi former secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) said that the press bodies have always condemned such bans and are of the view that PEMRA should not have the power to impose bans.
“When a similar ban was imposed on airing Nawaz Sharif speeches by PEMRA during Imran Khan’s government, PFUJ along with AGHS, HRCP and veteran journalist IA Rehman challenged that order in Islamabad High Court”, Zaidi said adding that “However, that petition was not properly heard and we have therefore withdrawn the application.”
“Had our petition been heard back then, this would not have happened today,” Zaidi told Voicepk.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also condemned the PEMRA directives. Harris Khalique, Secretary HRCP said that any ban on coverage or TV channels infringes on people’s right to know.
Senior journalists said that in the age of social media, there is no logical reason to impose such a ban and this will further reduce people’s trust in TV news channels and increase the risk of spreading fake news through social media.