The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has not barred any television anchor from expressing their views during talk shows, government's chief spokesperson Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Monday.
Taking to Twitter a day after Pemra directed TV anchors not to give their “opinions” during talk shows and limited their role to a “moderator”, she said the anchorpersons are free to "discuss anything and everything" during their "exclusive shows".
Awan, the special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, stressed that the Pemra advisory was a reiteration of the authority's existing code of conduct concerning court orders "which needs to be taken care of to avoid conjecturing".
In a scathing directive issued on Sunday, Pemra had directed the anchors hosting regular shows not to appear as experts in talk shows on their own or other channels. Media houses were advised to select the guests in talk shows with utmost care and keeping in view their knowledge and expertise in a particular subject.
“Participants/invitees should be selected with due care having credibility as fair and unbiased analysts with requisite knowledge/expertise on the subject matter. As per Pemra code of conduct, the role of anchors is to moderate the programmes in an objective, unbiased and impartial manner, excluding themselves from their personal opinions, biases and judgements on any issue. Therefore, anchors hosting exclusive regular shows should not appear in talk shows whether [on] own or other channels as subject matter expert,” said the directive sent to all satellite TV channel licencees.
It said the Islamabad High Court had in its order dated October 26 in the matter of Shahbaz Sharif versus the state taken cognisance of various speculative TV talk shows whereby anchorpersons, in violation of the code of conduct, tried to malign the judiciary and its decision with mala fide intention. “The court has sought a report of Pemra’s actions on such violations with reprimand,” it added.
Pemra said the IHC had also noticed that some anchorpersons/journalists held speculative discussions on Oct 25 on some TV channels and alleged a purported deal with regard to the bail granted to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Oct 26.
“This was believed to be an attempt to tarnish the image and integrity of honourable superior courts and to make their judgement controversial,” it added.