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PFUJ condemns PEMRA orders barring anchors from expressing their opinions

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  • Post category:Featured / Pakistan
  • Post last modified:28/10/2019
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KARACHI: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has strongly condemned the notification of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to bar political talk show anchorpersons from ‘appearing as experts’ in other programs. The leadership of PFUJ has demanded to withdraw this unconstitutional notification.

A PEMRA notification issued on Sunday said that media persons, instead of appearing as experts on their news channel or others, should stick to their role of ‘moderator.’ Therefore, anchors hosting exclusive regular shows should not appear in talk shows whether own or other channels as subject matter expert.

The PFUJ President GM Jamali and Secretary General Rana Muhammad Azeem has rejected the PEMRA notification as it is against the Freedom of Speech & Expression given by the land of the law. ” We understand that PEMRA notification is absolutely against the constitution of Pakistan that gives freedom of speech and expression to the citizens and anchorpersons are not an exception,” they observed.

The PFUJ leaders continued that restriction on freedom of speech and expression is not tolerable and the PFUJ will strongly oppose the said notification at every stage. The PFUJ will stage protests against this notification and take legal action if PEMRA enforced such a restriction. The leadership demanded the PEMRA to withdraw said notification and there must be no such restriction on the anchorpersons.

A relevant piece published earlier: 

ISLAMABAD:  Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority  (PEMRA) has barred TV anchors from chipping in their personal opinions while conducting a talk show and instructed them to stick to the role of mediators only.

PM’s Special Assistant on information and broadcasting, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan took to the twitter a day after PEMRA’s notification to claim that: “No anchor has been stopped to express. They have their exclusive shows to discuss anything and everything. The advisory has been reiteration of existing code of conduct on court orders which needs to be taken care of to avoid conjecturing.”

PEMRA FirdousSenior Journalist and Anchor Hamid Mir taking to the Twitter held: “Thank you for realizing that those who advised or forced Pemra to issue some unconstitutional directives are actually damaging the reputation of the whole democratic system.”Hamid MirPEMRA“Amazing decision by pemra to stop anchors to go on any other talk show and express their opinion! Pemra should be doing a better job taking action against completely fake news and not suppressing the right of individuals, including anchors, to express their opinion,” said Asad Umar of PTI stated. 

PEMRA, while  instructing the Anchors not to act as experts, has advised the Media Houses  to select analysts keeping in view their expertise in the relevant topic. The Electronic Media Watchdog, in its directives to the Satellite TV Channels held: “Participants/invitees should be selected with due care having credibility as fair and unbiased analysts with requisite knowledge/expertise on the subject matter.

“As per Pemra code of conduct, the role of anchors is to moderate the programs in an objective, unbiased and impartial manner, excluding themselves from their personal opinions, biases and judgement on any issue. Therefore, anchors hosting exclusive regular shows should not appear in talk shows whether own or other channels as subject matter expert.”

PEMRA was reacting to the Islamabad High Court(IHC)’s reprimand of 26th October, 2019. IHC  has taken cognizance of speculative TV talk shows whereby anchorpersons, in violation of the code of conduct, tried to malign the judiciary and its decision with mala fide intension. PEMRA stated in its notification that the court had sought a report of PEMRA’s actions on such violations, in the matter of Shahbaz Sharif versus the State.

It is pertinent to mention here that IHC had also noticed that a number of anchorpersons had insinuated that deposed PM Nawaz Sharif was being released due to a deal. Quoting a figure they said that Nawaz Sharif was being released as he had agreed to pay that figure to the government. Pointing to that episode PEMRA stated that IHC had also noticed that some anchorpersons/journalists held speculative discussions on Oct 25 on some TV channels and alleged a purported deal with regard to the bail granted to former PM Nawaz Sharif on 26th Oct.

PEMRA in its order held that it “has been issuing repeated directives asking news channels to refrain from airing discussion, views and analysis on sub-judice/under-trial matters and a number of show-cause notices were served on the channels for holding such programs to derogate and malign judiciary and instructions to tarnish the credibility of regulator before appellate forums.

“Now, therefore, all news channels are hereby directed henceforth; refrain from airing discussion, analysis, speculations, etc, on sub-judice matters. Licensee should disallow their platform to be used by anyone to mislead public through disinformation/conjecturing and speculations and they [licensee] shall be held responsible for any biased, unfair analysis or propaganda against judiciary and state institutions by their employees.”

Discouraging the live transmission PEMRA has directed to implement effective delay mechanism enabling the regulators to monitor and censor the inappropriate matters: “Channels without effective delay mechanism to refrain from telecasting live shows. The composition of committee/editorial board should be in line with directives of the Supreme Court under suo motu case’s judgement which is reproduced as under.

“With regards to the monitoring committee, we direct that licensees include [for each of its meetings] at least one practicing lawyer of at least five years or above practice, with adequate understanding of the law to advise the licensee regarding any potential violations of the code of conduct by programs to be aired in the future.”

Report PEMRA


PEMRA issues directives regarding discussions & analysis on Sub-judice matters

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.

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