Wednesday Mar 24, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's media regulator has ordered "Satellite TV licensees" to refrain from broadcasting "judgemental and unipolar remarks" about the state's anti-graft watchdog in their news and current affairs programmes.
In a letter, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said it had "monitored with concerns" that various talk shows and news programmes broadcast "highly unsubstantiated, judgmental, and unipolar remarks" about the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) "without getting an official point of view" from the watchdog.
The PEMRA also accused TV channels of having an "intent to malign the state institution" — the watchdog — and noted that broadcasting such remarks was against the orders issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
"Airing of such unsubstantiated and unipolar remarks are in absolute disregard to […] the orders of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of Pakistan passed in SOU MOTO CASE NO. 28 OF 2018 dated 12.09.2020 regarding the prohibition of discussion on sub-judice and under trail cases," it wrote.
"Airing of such content is also in violation of Section-20 (d) & (f) of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act-2007, Rule 15(10 of PEMRA Rules 2009 and Clause 3(10(i). 4(2), 4(4), 14(7) (a,&c), 4(10), 5, 17 & 22 of Electronic Media (Programmes & Advertisements) Code of Conduct-2015."
The regulator expressed annoyance at TV channels for continuing to run the remarks despite its "advice, warnings, notices, and […] training sessions with the media persons/reporters."
It reminded Pakistani channels of instructions to "refrain from voicing personal biases/opinion in any news report or talk show and moderate the programmes in a fair, balanced, objective, and impartial manner".
Citing "provisions of law", it added that issues under investigation or trial should only be aired without "commentary, opinion [and] suggestions".
"The licensees are also obliged through these provisions of law to observe reasonable constraints while extracting contents from court proceedings, police records and court proceedings and to air them fairly, accurately and in an objective manner," it added.
The PEMRA advised TV channels to "tighten their editorial oversight" and review the programme content via in-house monitoring committees.