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Broadcasters’ association files appeal

April 20, 2017

KARACHI: The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), represented through Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, has denied an allegation contained in a writ petition that the Pakistani media are broadcasting “indecent and immoral material”.

The petition has called upon the Islamabad High Court to censor TV channels so that no shows, dramas and advertisements fall within the purview of obscenity. In pursuance of this, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui has already constituted a committee comprising the secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broad­casting, the chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Autho­rity, the Pemra director general (Te­­c­hnical), Addi­tional Attor­ney General Afnan Karim Kundi and Ansar Abbasi, a journalist with a media group “….to submit a report as to whether contents being played are within the limits prescribed by the constitution… and highlight the violations with proposed actions against the responsible channels, hosts and guests etc…”

Being aggrieved by the order and the petition, the PBA, through Barrister Zafar, has filed an intra-court appeal and detailed reply before Justice Siddiqi, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.

The lawyer said the data (from Feb 2016 to March 2017) collected from Pemra’s official website and Twitter account showed that all the association’s 87 members had made 762,120 hours of transmission and a fine had been imposed only thrice, showing that they were complying with the relevant code and only miniscule violations had taken place.

Barrister Zafar called such an attempt to involve the courts as ‘moral policing’ and submitted that no court had the jurisdiction to pass such an order in exercise of writ jurisdiction.

He argued that such a committee was contrary to the law and the constitution, and that without the sanction of parliament no such committee could become a ‘censor board’.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2017