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State regulator suspends two television stations on slander charges

Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (Pemra), the broadcast media regulatory body, has suspended and imposed fines on two television channels and fined another channel for slandering the superior judiciary of Pakistan.

Pemra had issued show cause notices to Neo News, Din News and Sach TV on November 19, 2016 and asked to submit reply by November 26, 2016. All three TV channels submitted their responses, but Pemra found them to be unsatisfactory.

Pemra suspended the license of Din News for 30 days, and Neo News for seven days. The regulatory body also fined each of the three channels Rupees one million (US$ 9,523), which are to be paid within 15 days. The suspension in broadcasts will be effective from December 1, 2016.

The reason for the Pemra action against Din News was broadcast a news package on November 19 about the alleged meeting between Supreme Court Justice Amir Hani Muslim and senator Nehal Hashmi of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz regarding Panama Leaks case, pending before the court. The Chief Justice of Supreme Court Anwar Zaheer Jamali on 19 November had taken notice and registrar issued a contempt notice against the news which it said was false.

Neo News in its progrmmme“@Q” by Ahmed Qureshi broadcast social media news that criticized the higher judiciary of Pakistan.

A caller in a morning show “Aaj Kay Akhbaar” of Sach TV said, “Why judiciary does not give justice”? Zamir Hyder, Director News of Sach TV told Pakistan Press Foundation that the TV television channel kept running apology and appeared before Pemra for apology after receiving the notice. He said “we apologized for our mistake and our reporters or anchors never gave defaming remarks for judiciary.”

Protests by journalists unions and press clubs against the suspension of the television channel were recorded in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore including various cities of Pakistan on November 27, 2016.

Talking to the protesters outside Karachi Press Club (KPC) Director of Neo News and general secretary of KPC, A H Khanzada said, the channel considered the Pemra's action as a “black order”. He said we will continue our struggle for the freedom of media.

President of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Rana Azeem and president Lahore Press Club Shahbaz Mian while addressing the demonstration condemned Pemra action.

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