The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has issued show-cause notices to ARY News and Bol News for airing news items regarding a reshuffle in the federal cabinet and change in the portfolios of some federal ministers, it emerged on Tuesday.
The two media outlets had aired the news on Monday morning about a possible reshuffle in the posts for Minister for Finance and Minister of State for Interior held by Asad Umar and Shehryar Afridi, respectively.
In the notice sent to the chief executive officer of M/s ARY Communications Pvt. Ltd. (ARY News), Pemra stated that the TV channel had aired breaking news on the morning of April 15 "about shuffling in federal cabinet and change in portfolios of five federal ministers". Similarly, the authority in its notice to M/s Labbaik Pvt. Ltd. (Bol News) notice said the channel had run tickers reporting a change in the cabinet as well.
"This news turned out to be 'Fake' as Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting [Fawad Chaudhry], immediately rebutted any such news," the Pemra notice to both the broadcasters said.
It said the act by the two channels of airing "fake and unsubstantiated news" is in sheer disregard to the Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct 2015 and is also in violation of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 and Pemra Rules 2009.
"Moreover, by airing such news, channel management is creating chaos among the public and maligning the government functionaries," it added.
Pemra has asked ARY News and Bol News to respond within seven days "as to why appropriate legal action may not be initiated against the channel[s] ... under the relevant provisions of the Pemra laws".
The channels' CEOs have also been directed to appear for a personal hearing at the Pemra headquarters in Islamabad on April 22, in person or through a representative.
If they fail to comply with the directives, Pemra said it would initiate ex-parte action against the media outlets.
Separately, Pemra also issued a second show-cause notice to Bol News for airing a "vilification campaign" against a "respected public office holder" through its programme Tajzia. The said public office holder was not named in the notice, which Pemra said was the latest in a series of warnings issued to the TV channel for similar acts in the past.
The broadcaster has been directed to respond to the "final" show-cause notice within seven days or risk legal action being initiated against it.