Geo issues statement after taking Hamid Mir off air

Published June 1, 2021
This file photo shows veteran journalist Hamid Mir. — AFP
This file photo shows veteran journalist Hamid Mir. — AFP

The Geo/Jang Group has issued a statement after journalists and rights bodies condemned the move to take veteran TV show host Hamid Mir off air.

A day earlier, Mir told BBC Urdu he had been informed by the Geo News management that he would "not go on air on Monday" to host his five-days-a-week show 'Capital Talk'.

In a statement, the Geo/Jang Group said that the veteran journalist had made a speech "that has resulted in backlash from different segments of society".

"The editorial committee and lawyers will check for violation of policy and law. Meanwhile, ‘Capital Talk’ will be hosted by a temporary host," it said.

"We would like to remind our viewers and readers that Geo and Jang Group were shut down, our journalists were beaten up as they faced hundreds of fake allegations of corruption, blasphemy and traitorhood, shot at, financially strangulated more than any other media organisation in the country. The organisation has lost more than Rs10 billion to keep viewers and readers informed.

"However, it becomes difficult for the group and its editors to take ownership of the content that is delivered outside the purview, input and guidance of its editors, and which are not fact-checked and approved by the editorial teams," the statement said.

It added that the disappointment and frustration being felt by Mir and other journalists was a "shared and grave concern but better ways exist on how to channel that energy for productive gains for the safety of journalism and journalists".

"Too many journalists lose their lives and their liberty in Pakistan while their fight for the right of the public to know continues," the statement said, adding that many human and media rights organisations have advocated that the government must protect journalists. "No respite has been given till now."

Mir had just days earlier delivered a fiery speech in Islamabad calling for accountability for repeated assaults on journalists in the country. He was speaking at a protest against the recent attack on journalist and YouTuber Asad Ali Toor.

"The management asked me to either explain or refute the speech outside the [National] Press Club," Mir told BBC Urdu, adding that he asked in return: "Who is asking you for this?"

"I told them if they arrest the persons who attacked Asad Toor then I am ready to apologise, let alone issue an explanation," the journalist said.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, meanwhile, without addressing Mir or Geo, tweeted in the evening that the government had nothing to do with the internal decisions of broadcasting organisations.

"Broadcasters themselves decide which programme they have to broadcast and what its team will be," said Chaudhry, adding that all media institutions were responsible for devising their policies under Article 19 of the Constitution.

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