Pemra suspends Bol News for 30 days, slaps Rs1m fine over 'contemptuous' remarks against judges

Published January 22, 2021
Pemra had issued a show-cause notice to Bol News on January 13 over its programme "Tajzia". — Reuters/File
Pemra had issued a show-cause notice to Bol News on January 13 over its programme "Tajzia". — Reuters/File

The Pakistan Electronic Media Authority Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Friday suspended the licence of Bol News TV channel for 30 days and imposed a Rs1 million fine on it for airing "contemptuous" remarks against judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The authority had issued a show-cause notice to M/s Labbaik Pvt. Ltd. (Bol News) on January 13 over its programme "Tajzia" hosted by anchorperson Sami Ibrahim.

During an episode of the talk show, the channel "aired contemptuous remarks against the ... chief justice of the Lahore High Court and other honourable judges while discussing the matter of appointment of judges in the" LHC, according to a statement issued by Pemra on Twitter.

It said both Ibrahim and a senior correspondent of the channel "cast aspersions against the superior judiciary in violation of Article 19 read with Article 68 of the Constitution [...] and the Pemra laws including the Pemra Code of Conduct, 2015".

Sami Ibrahim is a popular TV anchor and has interviewed a number of high-profile figures, most recently Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In its response, "The channel did not express any regrets or remorse and argued that [the] show-cause notice is uncalled for and must be withdrawn," Pemra’s statement read.

After evaluating the reply submitted and the content aired by Bol News, Pemra concluded the matter by suspending its satellite TV channel licence. The channel must pay the Rs1m fine within 30 days.

This is not the first time Ibrahim has landed in trouble over his remarks concerning members of the judiciary.

In April 2019, the LHC had issued a notice to the senior journalist for allegedly scandalising high court judges.

The plaintiff in that case, while seeking contempt of court proceedings against Ibrahim, had contended that the anchorperson had alleged that judges of the LHC were providing illegal relief to the PML-N.

Last month, Pemra had suspended Bol News on account of "continuous failure to pay fines" totalling Rs4.7m. The authority at the time said the channel would remain suspended till the payment of all fines.

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