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Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Friday imposed a one million rupee fine each on 16 news channels for incorrectly reporting a Lahore High Court (LHC) decision last month which had also drawn ire from the chief justice.

The channels had incorrectly reported that the LHC had imposed an interim ban on the airing of anti judiciary speeches made by former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N leaders. The order had only directed Pemra to uphold the law on the broadcast of anti judiciary speeches in general.

The channels that have been fined Rs1m include Royal News, Din News, Channel 92, Dunya TV, Channel 5, Aaj TV, Express News, Roze TV, Samaa TV, DawnNews TV, ARY News, Waqt TV, Bol News, KTN News, Koh-e-Noor TV, Geo News while Mashriq TV has been fined by Rs200,000 for airing a ticker.

Pemra said it had issued show cause notices to the seventeen television channels on April 19, 2018 directing their managements to file written replies as well as appear for a personal hearing on April 24, 2018, a Pemra press release said.

After hearing the representatives of the channels and examining the subsequent written replies, it was found that the channels had violated the Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct, 2015 and ignored an advice issued by the Authority on April 6, 2018 on similar subject.

All channels have now been directed to air an apology during prime time on May 6 for airing false news and to deploy and properly utilise time-delay mechanism. All these channels have further been directed to constitute in-house editorial committees in order to ensure effective gate-keeping of their content and ensure compliance of the Pemra Code of Conduct.

In case of non-compliance of the decision, the authority threatened it may proceed against the channels and may suspend or revoke their license.