Pemra advises channels not to ‘demean individuals’

Updated June 14, 2019

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The electronic media regulator has advised all satellite TV channels not to “demean individuals representing various political parties and law enforcement agencies through caricatures, animated characters, photo-shopped images and funny memes”. — Dawn/File
The electronic media regulator has advised all satellite TV channels not to “demean individuals representing various political parties and law enforcement agencies through caricatures, animated characters, photo-shopped images and funny memes”. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The electronic media regulator has advised all satellite TV channels not to “demean individuals representing various political parties and law enforcement agencies through caricatures, animated characters, photo-shopped images and funny memes”.

Although the main sufferers of such portrayal in the electronic media are the PPP and the PML-N, these parties maintain that such advisories should not be used to muzzle the media.

The advice by Pemra over “airing satirical content” says: “Public is of the view that channels in the news and current affairs genre are promoting such ironic trend which is denigrating leadership of the country and tarnishing their impression nationally and internationally. So much so in such depiction, repute of female politicians is severely being spoiled.”

Pemra went on to say: “All satellite TV channels are therefore advised to refrain from airing any content which is demeaning, creates hatred against any individual or mocks any personality associated with any political party or law enforcement agency.”

Pemra has also said that channel management must be careful in selection of words and gestures while creating contents or memes.

Pemra said it had received complaints about such contents as public sentiments are hurt when the country’s leadership is demeaned.

The electronic media regulator has also warned that airing of such contents is a violation of Section 20(f) of Pemra ordinance 2002 Rules 15(1) of Pemra Rules 2009 and clause 3(1) — (e,f,l), 4 (7)(c), 4 (10),5,12,13 &17 of electronic media (programmes & advertisement) Code of Conduct 2015.

However, PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar has questioned the timing of the Pemra advisory and said all the clauses listed in the notice had already existed.

“These are not new laws while the practice of making mockery of politicians is also not new in the country — so why issue the advisory now,” Mr Babar wondered.

He added that making fun of politicians is traditionally an accepted norm the world over, ‘and it is also desirable too’, but the timing seems dubious.

“My hunch is [that it] is to protect the incumbent prime minister Imran Khan from the same that was faced by others,” Mr Babar added. “My fear is that such practice might give too much discretionary powers to Pemra — which is not correct even for democracy.”

The PML-N information secretary, Marrium Aurangzeb, said caricaturing of politicians was acceptable, but social values must be respected.

“There has to be a limit to things, and media has to be responsible too,” she said. “Media is evolving and it is time to grow up now.”

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019