Pemra orders Channel-24 to air apology 'for propagating false news' about PM Imran's personal life

Published April 27, 2019
Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) and former PCB chairman, Najam Sethi (R). — File
Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) and former PCB chairman, Najam Sethi (R). — File

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Friday issued orders to Channel-24 to air an apology within seven days through its show Najam Sethi ke saath as penance for what the regulator described as propagation of false news about the prime minister.

The authority stated that the decision was taken following a complaint lodged by Prime Minister Imran Khan at Pemra's Council of Complaints.

The decision was taken under the terms outlined in Clause 18 of the Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct 2015, Pemra stated in its notification.

Although the notification steered clear of expressly mentioning the nature of the "false news" in question, it appears that the Pemra orders pertain to certain remarks made by Sethi on the premier's marital life.

The episode in question was aired on March 30. During the show, Sethi claimed that "a little bird" had told him that the prime minister had "developed differences" with the first lady.

Six days later, Sethi wrote an op-ed in The Friday Times, revealing that the premier had "formally applied to Pemra" to act against the channel "for airing a statement that allegedly defames him".

"No public figure, least of all a prime minister, can claim that his or her 'private affairs' are out of the scope of public scrutiny especially if they impinge on matters covered by Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan," Sethi tweeted, quoting an excerpt from his article.

In his piece, he also mentioned that the channel has been asked "to immediately appear before its Complaints Committee and defend itself".

Today, however, upon receiving Pemra's directives, Sethi took to Twitter to question the orders, saying that the authority "did not give us (Channel-24) an opportunity to defend this statement".

Pemra's directives to Channel-24

The channel has been directed by Pemra to air an apology during the same show "besides running text scrolls to the same effect for propagating false news about [the] Prime Minister of Pakistan".

"The apology, including that in audio visual and text scroll form, should clearly refer to in its subjective context without repeating the afore-noted news item," states Pemra's notification.

The channel has also been ordered to a pay a sum of Rs1 million as fine to the authority.

In case of failure by the channel to comply either partially or wholly with Pemra's orders, the show concerned "shall remain prohibited for a period of thirty days", according to the notification.

Furthermore, non-compliance shall be construed by the authority as the channel being "willfully defiant" and measures shall then be taken to suspend and/or revoke its license.

Opinion

Editorial

28 Nov 2021

Creating superbugs

THE tendency to pop antibiotic pills at every sneeze has brought us to the brink of a disastrous health crisis. For...
28 Nov 2021

Channel tragedy

THE responses of the French and British governments to the biggest human tragedy in the English Channel in recent...
27 Nov 2021

Supporting ECP

ALTHOUGH the government bulldozed legislation on electronic voting machines through parliament, the reality is that...
27 Nov 2021

Forgiving the Taliban

IF there is one takeaway from Thursday’s gathering of more than 1,000 Shia Hazaras in Kabul, it is the call given...
Living in fear
Updated 27 Nov 2021

Living in fear

THE registration of a blasphemy case against four members of a family from a village on the outskirts of Lahore has...