PEMRA issues show cause notice to Geo News for 'airing unipolarity of views'

Earlier, PEMRA issued directives to cable operators to shut down Geo TV's broadcast across various cities and demote the channel...

Web Desk
Saturday, March 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has issued a show cause notice to Geo Jang Media Group for "airing unipolarity of views in its bulletins and programmes since yesterday" and discussing "under investigation/trial matters barred under PEMRA laws".

Theshow cause notice comes a day after the NAB, the country's anti-graft watchdog, arrested Jang Geo Media Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in relation to a property he had purchased from a private party 34 years ago.

The notification added that in this regard, "the licensee is also directed to appear for personal hearing on March 20, 2020 at 1100 Hrs. through its C.E.O. in person or through authorized representative before this Authority."

Earlier, after SAPM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan's Friday press conference on the arrest of Editor-in-Chief of the Jang Geo Media Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman ended, cable operators started receiving directions to shut down Geo TV's broadcast or demote the channel to the last numbers in various cities.

Geo News Director News Rana Jawad said the the PEMRA had issued the directives to the country's cable operators, who, he said, "are being asked to change Geo News' position [on TV channel numbers]".

"Shifting the channel to the last numbers means shutting down its broadcast," Jawad added, noting that these instructions were also given to the main cable operator in Islamabad and that no legal basis was provided for the action.

The director added that PEMRA had threatened to take legal action against any cable operator who did not comply with the instructions to unjustly target Geo News. A cable operator in Islamabad shifted Geo News from number 7 to 71, he added, noting that the cable operators in other cities of Pakistan were following suit.

"This is being done at a time when the Editor-in-Chief of the Jang Group/Geo has been arrested by NAB," he said. "This [censorship] is a manifestation of the conspiracy to shut down, silence and end media," he added.

He said that MSR's arrest and the subsequent censorship of Geo shows that the two events were linked to each other so that the largest media group in the country could be silenced and its voice is thwarted from reaching the masses.

Reports coming in from multiple locations around Pakistan showed that Geo News has already been moved to the last numbers on the list of channels and/or its broadcast halted in entirety.

While a lot of cable operators refused to obey the PEMRA's directives to shut down Geo News' broadcast or shift it to the last numbers because it was illegal and they would not cave under pressure, themedia regulatory authority's chairperson, Muhammad Saleem, has flatly denied the PEMRA's involvement.

US State Department expresses concern over MSR's arrest

It is also noteworthy to mention here that the US Department of State had said earlier today it was concerned over MSR's arrest.

In a statement, Alice G. Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA), had said the US foreign ministry has "noted with concern the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, the owner of a leading media company in #Pakistan".

"Press freedom, due process, and the rule of law are pillars of every democracy," Wells had added.

The State Department's concern over MSR's arrest and support for MSR andGeo Jang Media Group comes after various local and global rights bodies, international media watchdogs, renowned publications around the world, journalists, and artists condemned the growing curbs on the Pakistani press.