Pakistan suspends anti-govt TV network

Pakistan government has suspended broadcast network of one of the popular news channels – ARY News, which is critical of the government and its policies.

Pakistan TV network ARY News.

Pakistan TV network ARY News.

Pakistan government has suspended broadcast network of one of the popular news channels – ARY News, which is critical of the government and its policies.

Islamabad, Oct 21/Nationalturk – In a jolt to free and fair journalism in the country, Pakistan government has suspended broadcast network of ARY channel, which is critical of the government and its policies.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) suspended  licence of ARY News channel for 15 days and imposed a fine of Rs10 million for airing a program against members of the superior judiciary.

According to an official handout, the order was issued by Acting PEMRA Chairman Pervaiz Rathore during the meeting yesterday.

Besides suspending the news channel (ARY News) for 15 days, PEMRA also imposed a fine of Rs10 million on the channel to be deposited before the expiry of the suspension period.

“If the fine is not paid within the given time, the channel shall not be allowed to resume its transmission and its licence shall remain suspended till such time the fine is paid,” reads the official statement.

‘ARY News ignored show cause notice’

According to PEMRA statement, ARY News channel was issued a show-cause notice on October 10, 2014 asking it to explain its position in writing with regard to aspersions cast against the superior judiciary in one of its program ‘Khara Sach’ aired on September 22, 23 and 24, 2014 within seven days and appear for personal hearing on October 16, 2014.

Analysts believe the licence of new channel  has been suspended because of the show’s host, Mubashar Lucman criticism of PM Nawaz Sharif and his government.

“Neither the CEO nor any authorised representative of the news channel appeared before the personal hearing committee, therefore, ex-parte proceedings were conducted.  A written reply from the channel was received wherein, inter alia, all violations were denied and the jurisdiction of the authority was challenged,” further read the statement.

ARY News is critical of govt

ARY News is critical of the Pakistan government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The news channel has criticized its policies and its handling of the ongoing protest sit-in by two of its political opponents – cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and cleric Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).

Khan and Qadri alongwith thousands of their supporters are staging a sit-in outside parliament since August 14 and are demanding resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was elected to power last year. Both Khan and Qadri accuse him of resorting to election rigging to win the polls and are demanding electoral reforms.

The suspension of the news channel came few days after the media regulator banned Mubasher Lucman, an outspoken commentator of ARY News from appearing in any capacity on any channel in Pakistan.

Many human rights groups and media groups have criticized the Pakistan government for suspending licence of ARY News.

“ARY TV must be immediately allowed back on air,” Mustafa Qadri of Amnesty International has said adding there is no justification for  Pakistan government to silence section of the media solely because of their political leanings.

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