Pemra fines Neo News Rs0.5 million for airing Khalilur Rehman's abusive remarks

Published August 21, 2020
Writer-director Khalilur-Rehman Qamar had used abusive language against activist Marvi Sirmed during a March 4 talk show. — File
Writer-director Khalilur-Rehman Qamar had used abusive language against activist Marvi Sirmed during a March 4 talk show. — File

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has imposed a fine of Rs500,000 on Neo News for violating its law and codes by airing abusive and misogynistic remarks by writer-director Khalilur Rehman Qamar in one of its programmes earlier this year, it emerged on Friday.

The authority also issued a warning to the TV channel to strictly observe the laws and code of conduct in matters concerning gender and to adopt a strict policy in this regard.

While speaking during a talk show on Neo News on March 4 discussing the Aurat March that was scheduled to be held on March 8, Rehman had used abusive and misogynistic language against activist Marvi Sirmed, who was also a guest on the show.

He used expletives against Sirmed and termed the Aurat March slogan of "mera jism, meri marzi" (my body, my choice) as "obscene" and "vile".

Analyse: Khalilur Rehman Qamar, please sit

A number of high court lawyers subsequently filed complaints in Pemra's Council of Complaints against the programme Aaj Ayesha Ehtesham Kay Sath.

All three complainants stated that Rehman abused Sirmed for chanting the slogan mera jism, meri marzi, calling his conduct "highly objectionable" and against Pemra laws.

When the matter was taken up by the Council of Complaints in its meeting on July 9, the complainants pointed to three objectionable aspects of Rehman's comments, saying his remarks were abusive, "targeted a specific gender" and fell in the domain of hate speech.

They said the channel violated the directives issued by Pemra, a judgement of the Supreme Court and the editorial board of the TV channel, if available, failed to perform its duty properly, according to the Pemra order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com.

They said Neo News subsequently aired an apology and did not invite Rehman in any of its programmes again.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, Pemra's complaints council noted that Rehman's comments were "abusive and gender-biased" and that the channel by airing his remarks violated the Constitution, provisions of the Pemra Ordinance, 2002, and its Electronic Media Code of Conduct, 2015.

It said in the order that the channel failed to observe an effective delay mechanism. Moreover, "the host of the programme could have employed various other methods to control the situation which were not opted at that time."

The council recommended that a fine of Rs1m be imposed on the channel and a warning be issued to it to prevent similar incidents in the future.

After considering the matter, Pemra approved imposing a fine of Rs0.5m on the channel along with a warning, according to the order.

Opinion

Hoping for miracles
Updated 26 Sep 2021

Hoping for miracles

Pakistan will be exposed to international recrimination if the Taliban revert to their old ways.

Editorial

Updated 26 Sep 2021

Intransigent Taliban

PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan has delivered an effective speech at the UN General Assembly session detailing the salient...
26 Sep 2021

Deadly misinformation

THE distinction between ‘fake’ and ‘authentic’ news is now a concept impossible to escape. In an...
26 Sep 2021

Covid arrests

THE unilateral decision taken by Karachi’s East Zone police to arrest citizens without Covid vaccination cards ...
25 Sep 2021

NAB controversy

THE completion of the four-year term of NAB chairman Javed Iqbal early next month has afforded Prime Minister Imran...
Cabinet ‘inclusivity’
Updated 25 Sep 2021

Cabinet ‘inclusivity’

Voices are being raised questioning when the much-hyped inclusivity the group had talked about will materialise.
25 Sep 2021

Quorum malady

LACK of quorum has become a chronic problem for the present National Assembly which is in the process of becoming a...