Tuesday Feb 21, 2023
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Monday banned television channels from coverage of terror attacks.
The electronic media regulatory body's directives came in continuation to the earlier orders on the subject asking TV channels to adhere to the provisions of the PEMRA Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015.
The authority, in a notification issued today, stated: "It has been observed with grave concern that despite repeated directives satellite TV channels are unable to comply with provisions of Electronic Media Code of Conduct-2015 in letter and spirit."
Following unfortunate incidents such as explosions or attacks by "miscreants", PEMRA — in the notification — added that channels resort to marathon transmission ignoring basic journalistic norms and ethics only to "take lead" and "credit" of breaking the news first as well as "airing live images of the crime scene".
"Satellite TV channels and their staff is found ambivalent of not only their own security but also create hurdles in rescue as well as combat operations," PEMRA stated.
The electronic media watchdog further stated that information shared on news channels in such a situation is "unverified, speculative without consulting security agencies present on the spot".
"Such reporting hence creates panic and unwarranted chaos among the viewers not only in the country but also Pakistanis living abroad," the notification read.
PEMRA also mentioned that reporting of such incidents gives benefits terrorists for "using media as forum of political advertising" and serves their ideological purposes by "publicising their campaign".
"Moreover, media coverage of such incidents also gives terrorists an organisational advantage by allowing a specific group to exhibit its strength and audaciousness in comparison with its rivals," the watchdog directive stated.
PEMRA's orders have been issued at a time when Pakistan, for the past few months, has been gripped by a spate of terror attacks with Karachi as its latest target after terrorists barged into its strictly-guarded police office — located on one of its main arteries, Sharea Faisal — last Friday during which four people including police and rangers personnel were martyred and three terrorists were killed.
The attack on the Karachi Police Office took place a few weeks after the deadly Peshawar attack, which claimed the lives of over 72 people and injured 150 on January 30.
During his visit to meet the injured of the KPO attack two days ago in the metropolis, the Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir asserted that terrorists have "no religious or ideological moorings, but only misguided conceptions forced through coercion or inducement".
“Contrary to political and other distractions being faced by the public, the security forces remain singularly focused on CT [counter-terrorism] and intelligence-based operations (IBOs) which are being conducted all over the country with pronounced success,” the army chief said.