ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has imposed a 45-day ban on the ARY News programme ‘Live with Dr Shahid Masood’.

According to a statement issued by Pemra on Thursday, Dr Shahid Masood alleged — in a programme aired on June 22 — that the son of the Sindh High Court chief justice was kidnapped because the chief justice took a bribe and then did not make good on his promises.

According to Pemra, a show-cause notice was issued on July 19 and the channel was given seven days to respond, but the reply received on July 23 was “unprofessional” and no apology was tendered.

The statement issued by the electronic media watchdog said the case was referred to its Council of Complaints in Karachi and the channel’s representatives were asked to appear before it on August 4.

“On the date of the hearing, the channel sought an adjournment and council granted adjournment for another seven days,” the statement said, adding “but the representative of the channel neither tendered any apology for the serious allegation nor presented a satisfactory reply.”

Under the law, Dr Shahid Masood and his channel reserve the right to appeal the authority’s decision before the high court or the Supreme Court within five days.

ARY News has also posted a statement from its counsel, Advocate Moinuddin, on its website. In it, the counsel notes that Pemra’s decision was apparently taken in haste and “may have some mala fide intent”.

Mr Moinuddin also contended that Pemra did not consider their adjournment plea. “We could have gone to Islam­abad to plead our case, but that chance was not provided to us.”

The advocate also expressed surprise that the Pemra order was not signed by any authority, but rather was simply endorsed by the council of complaints.

In a statement posted on their website, Dr Shahid Masood has asked: “What [could] anyone do if the government [had] misconstrued his statement in the programme”, adding that the government must clearly say what was objectionable in the programme, which stirred up a “hornet’s nest”.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2016

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