LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tues­day suspended the operation of the Pakistan Elec­tronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra)’s order to suspend licence of a private TV channel, 24 News HD.

Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi issued the stay order on a petition filed by M/s Central Media Network Private Ltd through its lawyer Syed Tassadaq Murtaza Naqvi.

During the hearing, the counsel argued that Pemra had suspended the licence of the news channel without affording it a proper opportunity of hearing. He said the authority had taken the impugned action over alleged violation of rules in terms of the license’s category.

The counsel told the court that the TV channel had applied with the authority for change of the licence’s category in 2015 and the application was partially approved. He argued that the impugned action taken by Pemra’s chairman was unlawful as such orders required to be issued with consensus of all members of the authority.

He said that the authority had allowed many licence holders to change category but targeted the petitioner on political grounds. He asked the court to set aside the impugned decision of Pemra for being illegal.

Pemra’s counsel opposed the maintainability of the petition before the LHC, saying that the Islamabad High Court had territorial jurisdiction to hear such matters. He asked the court not to stay the Pemra order.

However, Justice Sethi turned down the request and suspended the operation of the impugned order. The judge said that the case would be heard on a daily basis and directed Pemra’s counsel to submit a written reply to the petition on Wednesday.

Earlier, Pemra had said in a statement that the channel Value TV, for which the license was issued to the Central Media Network, had illegally changed its name to 24 News HD.

It had said that the channel was granted license to air entertainment content but instead it was persistently, illegally and unlawfully airing news and current affairs in continuous violation of Pemra laws.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2020