Monday, April 23, 2007

Regime Clamps Down on the Press Yet Again

According to BBC Aaj TV and Geo are currently the most popular news channels in Pakistan. Having largely muzzled Geo TV, the regime Media authority PEMRA is now whacking Aaj with its customary big stick

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!


Syed said...

"It has nothing to do with freedom of expression. We did what regulatory bodies all over the world have been doing," he said.


Anonymous said...

First the attack on the judiciary and now the press - although our systems of checks and balances have been much weakened these crucial pillars of civil society and democracy still exist in Paksitan thanks to some very brave men and women. Thank God for them and thank you for spreading the word. Karachigirl

Anonymous said...

Most probably the reason that the Islamabad heavies are ganging up against Aaj TV is the fact that the channel gave in depth coverage to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's visit to Peshawar to address the local Bar association there.

The sight of hundreds of ordinary people (not lawyers or politicians) standing by the roadside waiting to catch a glimpse of him and wave to him, must have been unnerving for the powers that be, particularly so as their political inadequacy was being shown on live TV.

Geo TV, under pressure as it is, was rather circumspect in its coverage. Considering it was the biggest news of the day, the channel's behaviour was rather revealing.

Wasiq said...

What else can one expect from a weakened military dictatorship in its dying days?

Anonymous said...

It is no secret that Jang group has always been on the establishment side (read Army's and Agencies').
They only write and show what is utmost necessary to keep them in the business. They always do govt's bidding in such times.
Anyone remembers Musharraf the Traitor's interview? It was shown so many times on TV non-stop. It was fifth column Geo. Geo is not fourth pillar, its fifth.

Anonymous said...

AZADI should not be converted into BE-LAGAMI by the media.

Media should run with regulations and responsibility.

Talking against the National Interests only serve the enemies of Pakistan.

Self-censorship is prscticed by all the major Media around the world. Our Media should also mature and not promote conspiracy theories!

Hiro said...

although freedom of press had allowed the journalists to start a false type of propaganda,yet the restrictions do not seem to be justified.The attacks on press offices and officials are condemnable.

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