ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Absar Alam said on Monday that he and other officials of the media watchdog were receiving death threats by some unidentified people for taking action against some TV channels.
Addressing a press conference at the Pemra head office here, he urged the prime minister, chief justice of Pakistan and army chief to take notice of the situation and sought help of all state institutions for smooth functioning of Pemra as per its rules and regulations.
He said it was difficult to continue work in such a tense situation.
Mr Alam also expressed displeasure over issuance of stay orders by courts over actions taken by Pemra against some TV channels. “Out of 357 actions taken by the authority 333 have been rendered inactive by courts’ stay orders,” he added.
He said the role of Pemra had been reduced. “We will request the chief justice to expedite legal proceedings,” he said, adding that “these stay orders are even hampering the implementation of the code of conduct by the apex court”.
Absar Alam expresses displeasure over stay orders over Pemra’s actions against TV channels
He said the goals of the National Action Plan could not be achieved as long as extremist narrative was not contained on the electronic media. For the eradication of terrorism from the country it was necessary to curb the narrative of extremists, he added.
He alleged that some TV channels were trying to downplay the counter-narrative against extremism. “They were highlighting acts of terror, promoting hate speech and even fuelling sectarianism, but when we take action against such programmes they get stay orders from courts and start a campaign against Pemra,” he said, adding that “conservative elements blame Pemra for being unfair”.
Similarly, he said, whenever action was taken against vulgar programmes liberal segments of society blamed Pemra for being unfair.
Mr Alam said it was the responsibility of Pemra to monitor and curb hate speech as well as vulgarity on television.
Without naming anyone he said some channels and anchors had even accused him of committing blasphemy. “This is tantamount to instigating violence and terror against me,” he added.
He said such elements had now started threatening other Pemra officials.
During the press conference, recording of a threatening phone call was played.
The Pemra chairman appealed to law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter.
However, Mr Alam made it clear that despite the dire situation he would not resign from his position.
Published in Dawn, May 09th, 2017