Wednesday Dec 09 2020

Ofcom gives verdict in Geo's favour in Ishaq Dar's complaint

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar had approached the UK media regulator against Geo News. File photo

LONDON: Britain’s media regulator Ofcom has rejected former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s complaint against the Naya Pakistan show on Geo News aired on Geo News on 22 June 2019.

The programme included a discussion about a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which Geo News said had been agreed between Pakistan and the UK government relating to Ishaq Dar's extradition.

During the programme, the presenter Shahzad Iqbal and Shahzad Akbar, the show’s guest and PM Imran Khan’s advisor discussed Ishaq Dar’s extradition and its process, and footage showing extracts said to be from the MoU were shown several times in the programme. 

Dar complained that he was treated unjustly and unfairly in the programme and that the inclusion of extracts said to be from the MoU in the programme was an unwarranted infringement of his privacy.

The former finance minister complained to Ofcom that he was treated unjustly or unfairly in the programme during the broadcast because Akbar made derogatory remarks about him. Dar said that he was not given an opportunity to present his version of the facts, to “the government’s politically motivated agenda and defamatory publicity”.

Geo News explained in detail to Ofcom that it had performed its duties with the utmost care and the show was balanced as well as neutral. Geo News told Ofcom that it didn’t infringe Dar's privacy and did not treat him unfairly in the show.

On the other hand, Dar complained to Ofcom that Geo News “ran a whole show of character assassination and fabrications, making seriously false and mala fide allegations against me”. 

The PML-N leader said the claim that the UK government had initiated proceedings against him for extradition was made “over a year ago” and that British authorities had still not informed him of any such action. He added, “in reality, there is no action”.

In its findings, Ofcom said it had considered that material facts were not presented, disregarded, or omitted in a way that resulted in unfairness to Dar in the programme during the broadcast. It said that comments made on the Geo News show were contextualized and did not result in unfairness to the former finance minister.

The media regulator stated in its decision: “Ofcom has not upheld Mr Ishaq Dar’s complaint of unjust or unfair treatment and of unwarranted infringement of privacy in the programme as broadcast.”