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Private TV station's broadcasts suspended by media regulatory authority

(PPF/IFEX) - On April 8, 2011, the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) ordered shut down the transmissions of AAG TV, a private music TV channel belonging to Independent Media Corporation, owner of the Jang Group of Newspapers.

In a public notice issued on April 11, PEMRA said that after Geo Super sports channel shut down its transmissions, the media group started transmitting Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches from India on AAG TV. This was not permissible under the law, as AAG TV is allowed to telecast entertainment and music programmes only, and no sport events. Since it was a violation of terms and conditions of the licence, PEMRA shut down the transmission of AAG TV.

However, according to the Jang Media Group, the shutdown of AAG TV was part of the continuing government campaign against the Jang Group. The media group had announced recently that it would screen IPL cricket matches on AAG TV because Geo Super had been closed. The media group said PEMRA was following instructions by the government to financially damage the Jang Group so that its freedom of speech could be curtailed and the group could be blackmailed into submission.

On April 4, Geo Super said it had been ordered by PEMRA to stop transmission. Acting PEMRA Chairman Dr Abdul Jabbar refuted this assertion as "baseless". He said Geo Super is a Dubai-based channel with permission to uplink from Dubai. He said no closure orders were issued by PEMRA and Geo Super can continue its routine transmission under the landing rights permission which is still valid, and there is no restriction on Geo Super in this regard.

On April 10, the Bahawalpur Union of Journalists (BhUJ), cricket, hockey and other sports organisations staged a protest rally against the closure of Geo Super. The protesters condemned the closure of Geo Super and chanted slogans against the PEMRA. They demanded an immediate restoration of Geo Super and termed its closure an attack on freedom of the press. The District Union of Journalists Okara has termed the ban on Geo Super and AAG TV channels illegal. Landikotal Press Club, in a joint press conference with political leaders and tribal journalists, termed the ban unjust.

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