ISLAMABAD, Nov 3: President General Pervez Musharraf on Saturday promulgated two separate ordinances to impose curbs on print and electronic media.
Under the ordinances which amend the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002, and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, 2002, the print and electronic media have been barred from printing and broadcasting “anything which defames or brings into ridicule the head of state, or members of the armed forces, or executive, legislative or judicial organ of the state”.
Non-compliance of the new curbs is subject to discontinuation of newspaper publication for up to 30 days, and in case of television channels up to three years of jail and Rs10 million fine or both will be imposed on the broadcast media licensee or its representative and their equipment and premises will be forfeited.
The restrictions were announced hours after several leading national and foreign news channels had been taken off air by cable operators.
A new section 5A has been inserted in the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance to restrict publication of certain material. “No printer, publisher or editor shall print or publish” any material that consist of photographs of suicide bombers, terrorists (except required by the law-enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigation), bodies of victims of terrorist activities, statements and pronouncements of militants and extremist elements and any other thing, which may, in any way, promote aid or abet terrorist activities or terrorism, or their graphic and printed representation based on sectarianism and ethnicity or racialism.
The print media has also been restrained from publishing any material that is likely to jeopardise or be prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or any material that is likely to incite violence or hatred or create inter-faith disorder or be prejudicial to maintenance of law and order.
Similarly, section 20 of the Pemra Ordinance, 2002, has been amended to put a bar on TV channels to “broadcast video footage of suicide bombers, terrorists, bodies of victims of terrorism, statements and pronouncement of militants and extremist elements and any other act which may, in any way, promote, aid or abet terrorist activities or terrorism”.The anchors and moderators of the electronic media have been barred from hosting or propagating any opinion in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan that incites violence or hatred or any action prejudicial to maintenance of law and order.
TV discussions on sub judice matters or anything which is known to be false or baseless or is mala fide or for which there exist sufficient reasons to believe that the same may be false, baseless or mala fide have also been banned.
TV CHANNEL: Officials of the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority raided the Islamabad office of Aaj TV channel and seized live broadcast equipment without showing the required orders. Aaj TV’s Director of Current Affairs, Syed Talat Hussain, said his television channel was being singled out by the government.