Reporters Without Borders slams Pakistan curbs on TV broadcasters

Published July 11, 2019
The RWB is appalled to learn that three news channels have been suspended at the behest of the authorities.— AFP/File
The RWB is appalled to learn that three news channels have been suspended at the behest of the authorities.— AFP/File

A global media watchdog has slammed the local authorities over the removal of three television channels from the country's airwaves, saying the move was “indicative of disturbing dictatorial tendencies” as pressure mounts on journalists in Pakistan.

The statement from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) comes days after AbbTakk TV, 24 News, and Capital TV all had their broadcasts cut, after screening a press conference with opposition leader Maryam Nawaz.

Authorities say the channels were unavailable due to “technical issues”, but RSF described the outage as an act of “brazen censorship”.

“The RSF is appalled to learn that three Pakistani TV news channels have been suspended from cable networks at the behest of the authorities in reprisal for broadcasting an opposition leader's news conference,” the watchdog said late on Tuesday.

It went on to pin the removal of the channels on the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

A senior official with knowledge of the case confirmed the move against the channels, saying the broadcasters had violated the country's “code of conduct” and been warned against airing the press conference with Maryam Nawaz.

Maryam is the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — who is currently behind bars for corruption — and her press conference featured a judge reportedly claiming he had been blackmailed into convicting the former premier.

The move came as Prime Minister Imran Khan's administration vowed to block any media coverage and interviews of politicians “who are convicts and under trial”, according to leading English-language daily Dawn.

Last week, Geo News TV abruptly took an interview with former president Asif Ali Zardari off air shortly after it began.

Opinion

Editorial

Disquiet on the western front
Updated 07 Dec, 2022

Disquiet on the western front

IT is very difficult for Pakistan to be delinked from Afghanistan, because of reasons of geography and history.
Fuel from Russia
07 Dec, 2022

Fuel from Russia

THE apparent headway made with Russia for the purchase of its crude oil, petrol and diesel at discounted prices is a...
More women SHOs
07 Dec, 2022

More women SHOs

IT is encouraging to see more employment avenues opening up for women in Pakistan, with an increasing number of...
Is there a plan?
Updated 06 Dec, 2022

Is there a plan?

The ball currently is in Imran's court, but it appears he is stumped as to what to do with it.
Riverfront concerns
06 Dec, 2022

Riverfront concerns

THE door-to-door drive being launched by a group of landowners to mobilise affected communities against what they...
Morality police out
06 Dec, 2022

Morality police out

FOR several months, Iran has been rocked by unprecedented protests, sparked by the death on Sept 16 of Mahsa Amini, ...