ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) suspended the licence of TV channel 24News on Monday after complaints that its Muharram transmission contained hate-based content.

The complaints were lodged over portions of a Dua read after Asr prayers. The regulator said it had issued an advisory to all television channels on Aug 20, directing them “not to air material that would harm inter-faith harmony or which is based on sectarianism and inciting hate”.

The press release issued by Pemra said the 24News channel, which is a part of the Central Media Network, aired “hate material during its special Muharram 10 transmission without exercising any editorial control”, thus violating Pemra’s directives.

The authority added that it took “prompt action” and suspended the channel’s licence under section 30(3) of the Pemra Ordinance.

Pemra said a show-cause notice had been issued to the channel, seeking a reply within 14 days. The licence will remain suspended until completion of the inquiry.

In a statement, the TV channel acknowledged that negligence was committed on its part, but added that the contents had gone on air because staffers were not well-versed in Arabic.

“We did not know what was being read out,” Mian Tahir, the news channel’s director, said. He said he had explained the position to a senior official of Pemra on Sunday.

However, he criticised Pemra for cancelling the channel’s licence, saying that suspension of the licence was an “illegal decision” by the regulator and beyond the scope of Pemra rules.

Mr Tahir said the complainant remained unknown. “Pemra should issue a notice first and give us the chance to explain,” he said.

“The practice is that if an explanation is found to be reasonable and satisfactory, a warning is issued to the channel. Suspension of licence is the last option, but Pemra is seeking an explanation after exercising the last option.”

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2020

Opinion

Crumbs of neutrality?
28 Feb 2021

Crumbs of neutrality?

One must assess the opposition’s new-found realisation that the establishment has suddenly become neutral.
Saving Pakistan
27 Feb 2021

Saving Pakistan

If the three main political parties have each failed to govern well, the question arises: why?

Editorial

28 Feb 2021

Covid concerns

WITH every form of restriction now effectively lifted in the country after an assessment of the Covid-19 situation,...
FATF decision
Updated 28 Feb 2021

FATF decision

THE decision taken by the Financial Action Task Force to keep Pakistan on the grey list until June, despite the...
28 Feb 2021

Underfunded police

FOR decades, successive governments in the country have talked about police reforms. While the latter are essential,...
LoC ceasefire
Updated 27 Feb 2021

LoC ceasefire

THE Pakistan-India relationship is known for its complexity and bitterness, but there are times when surprises of a...
27 Feb 2021

Null and void

HAD people not lost their lives, the ham-fisted attempt at rigging the Daska by-election on Feb 19 could have been...
27 Feb 2021

Minister’s non-appearance

FEDERAL Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda’s continued absence from the Election Commission’s hearing on the...