The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has issued a show-cause notice to News One TV channel for airing what it called "defamatory" news items and clips in which National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal was allegedly shown in conversation with a woman, it emerged on Friday.
Some footage and a few audio clips — first aired by News One — in which a male could be heard talking to a woman and making inappropriate remarks at various points had emerged earlier this week. NAB had denied that the audio clips had anything to do with its chairman, branding them "baseless, fake and based on lies".
In the notice sent to the chief executive officer of M/s Airwaves Media Pvt. Ltd. (News One), a copy of which was obtained by DawnNewsTV, Pemra stated that the TV channel had on May 23 "repeatedly flashed" breaking news "targeting" the NAB chairman along with audio and video clips.
According to the authority, "the channel continued claiming that the defamatory statements and clips were being aired in the public interest", but it stopped airing the news items and issued an apology around an hour later which stated that the clips were found to be "unconfirmed and unverified". The broadcaster also apologised to the NAB chief for airing the news, the notice said.
Pemra reminded the channel that "airing such defamatory and false propaganda [and] maligning a dignitary and head of an important institution amounts to sheer violation of [the] Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct 2015" and Pemra Ordinance 2002.
The regulatory body has asked News One to respond within seven days "as to why legal action may not be initiated against the channel for violating aforementioned Pemra laws".
The channel's CEO has also been directed to appear for a personal hearing at the Pemra headquarters in Islamabad on May 31, in person or through a representative.
If the broadcaster fails to comply with the directives, Pemra said it would initiate ex-parte proceedings against the media outlet.