LHC stays Pemra decision to suspend TV channel 24NewsHD's licence

Published July 7, 2020
The LHC has decided to hear the case on a daily basis. — Photo Courtesy Channel 24News Facebook
The LHC has decided to hear the case on a daily basis. — Photo Courtesy Channel 24News Facebook

The Lahore High Court on Tuesday deferred a decision by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to suspend the licence of television channel 24NewsHD over "noncompliance with its terms of licence", issuing notices to the regulatory body and the federal government and seeking their replies on the matter during tomorrow's (Wednesday) hearing.

Pemra on Friday had suspended with "immediate effect" channel 24NewsHD's licence for "illegal transmission of news and current affairs content".

According to a press release issued by the regulatory authority, the channel Value TV — for which the license was issued to Central Media Network Pvt — had "illegally" changed its name to 24NewsHD. The channel was granted the licence to air entertainment content but instead it was "persistently illegally and unlawfully airing news and current affairs in continuous violation of Pemra laws", the statement had said.

The Central Media Network had challenged Pemra's suspension in the LHC, terming it "illegal" and nominated the federal government and Pemra as respondents.

In its petition, the media network said Pemra had issued a show-cause notice to the channel on May 5, adding that the channel's representative had attended a hearing on the matter on June 1 and a written reply had also been submitted.

However, the petition said, after a decision issued by the Pemra chairman on July 3, the channel's license was suspended on "alleged violation in change of logo and content without permission". The petition also stated that the channel had applied for a change in licence category in 2015, which was "partially approved".

The petition argued that an order could not be issued solely by the chairman of Pemra and required the signatures of all twelve members of the body. It also claimed that the authority had allowed variations in programming of other channels and that this was a case of "discrimination".

The petition called on the high court to set aside Pemra's decision and to issue a stay order until a judgment was given in the case.

Pemra's lawyer, while opposing the request for a stay order, argued that the case could not be heard in the LHC since all the proceedings had been conducted in Islamabad. The lawyer suggested that the media organisation should have approached the Islamabad High Court.

Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi, who has decided to hear the case on a daily basis, after hearing the arguments ordered for the channel's licence to be reinstated and issued notices to the government and Pemra to respond during tomorrow's hearing.

Senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, during a press conference, lauded the court's decision, saying it had "put a stop to an oppressive step taken by the government".

On Monday, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) had called for a countrywide strike to protest against the alleged highhandedness of Pemra authorities, suspension of the licence of TV Channel 24 and nonpayment of salaries to media workers.

The PFUJ also condemned the firing incident that took place during a protest organised by journalists outside Pemra's office.

Opinion

Biden’s world
Updated 27 Jan 2021

Biden’s world

Biden’s America is not going to be one that once again throws open visas so that the world’s brightest can easily immigrate.
The PDM’s predicament
Updated 27 Jan 2021

The PDM’s predicament

The interests and stakes of the parties in the alliance are too diverse for them to maintain unity of action for a longer period.

Editorial

Updated 27 Jan 2021

Pemra’s powers

The right to freedom of expression has been curtailed to such an extent that it invites comparisons with martial law times.
27 Jan 2021

Increasing debt

THE numbers released by the State Bank regarding the government’s domestic debt stock and servicing at the end of...
27 Jan 2021

Women in conflict

“WHEN the guns fall silent, it does not mean the suffering of women and girls stops. The suffering and abuse that...
Pakistan-US ties
Updated 26 Jan 2021

Pakistan-US ties

The US remains the world’s most powerful country, one Pakistan cannot afford to ignore.
26 Jan 2021

NAB not impartial

NAB CHAIRMAN retired justice Javed Iqbal has claimed that his organisation is an unbiased anti white-collar-crime...
26 Jan 2021

Pakistan-South Africa series

IN what is seen as a rare instance, Pakistan start as the underdogs on their home turf when they take on South ...