Dawn reported this morning that Aaj TV is once more under the gun “for airing news, talk shows and other programmes on the current judicial crisis”.
Pemra has also warned all private TV channels not to air programmes casting aspersions on the judiciary and “integrity of the armed forces of Pakistan,” besides contents which were likely to encourage and incite violence or contained anything against maintenance of law and order or which promoted anti-national or anti-state attitudes
Thanks to Reuters this piece of news has been given a wide coverage in the international press:
Aaj Television described the show-cause notice served on it by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) as an "assault on freedom of press".
The notice said Aaj, which means Today, had violated an order of the Supreme Judicial Council, which is hearing a case against suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, by telecasting news, talkshows and other programmes on the sub-judice case.
The notice, signed by a serving senior police officer inducted into PEMRA, said the media watchdog could cancel the channel's short term uplinking license if it failed to respond within three days.
Syed Talat Hussain, Aaj Television's director news and current affairs, accused the Government of pressurising his channel "to take the chief justice case off air completely".
"Everything is facade in this country. Democracy is a facade, judicial independence is a facade, and today we discovered that press freedom is a facade," Mr Hussain said.
PEMRA's spokesman, Mohammad Saleem, said the action was legal.
"It has nothing to do with freedom of expression. We did what regulatory bodies all over the world have been doing," he said.
What a load of rubbish!
Imagine claiming that they are only doing what “regulatory bodies all over the world have been doing”. Could someone ask these goons to name any other similar regulatory authority that has ‘a serving senior police officer’ issuing such draconian notices to the press? (Okay, Burma, Zimbabwe and North Korea excepted).
I enjoy watching Talat Hussain. He seems to a better job than most of his rivals put together. All power to Aaj TV and him!