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Political interference suspected in two-hour suspension of two television news channels

(PPF/IFEX) - The broadcasting of two television news channels, Geo TV and ARY TV, was suspended for over two hours on 7 April 2008 in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and in other cities in the province of Sindh.

According to press reports, a political party forced cable operators to keep the two networks off the air after their news channels repeatedly showed footage of activists of the rural Pakistan Peoples Party mistreating former chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim in the Sindh Assembly.

However, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sherry Rehman said the government had nothing to do with the suspension and she asked the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to investigate how transmissions of these two television networks came to be suspended.

Khalid Arain, vice-chairman of the All Pakistan Cable Operators Association, said the transmissions were suspended due to technical problems. "We are trying to determine the exact reason," he said.

The suspension of transmission of TV channels was condemned by journalists covering the assembly's proceedings. Khurshid Abbasi, secretary of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ), demanded that the government take firm action against those responsible.

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