The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority on Monday warned TV channels to refrain from airing content that "ridicules" state institutions, especially the judiciary and the army, or face retribution such as suspension of transmission and imposition of a fine without any prior notice.

The Pemra had issued a similar warning a week ago wherein it warned private electronic media from airing content against the armed forces and judiciary.

In its reiteration today, the regulatory authority said it had taken notice of broadcasting of "negative, insulting and hateful material" against state institutions during live coverage of TV programmes, talk shows and various public rallies on news channels.

Pemra said it had already been urging the TV channels to follow guidelines and the court directives on the matter. "[However,] channels have been broadcasting very disturbing material in the last few weeks, which falls under the category of insulting the state institutions and tantamount to propaganda against them," it said.

"Moreover, all satellite TV channels are further directed to ensure that an effective time-delay mechanism be put in place and an impartial and independent editorial board be constituted ... in order to ensure that their platform is not used by anyone for uttering contemptuous remarks in any manner whatsoever against any state institutions."

The media watchdog instructed all satellite TV channels be more careful while covering public meetings, rallies and electronic media (advertising and programs) under the Code of Conduct 2015.

"All the channels are finally warned that in case of any intentional/unintentional error in this regard, Pemra Ordinance 2002 and Section-27 of the Pemra (Amendment) Act 2007 will be enforced and respective talk show/programme will be taken off the air without any notice."

The regulatory authority also warned that a fine up to Rs1 million, revocation of the channel's license along with the suspension of transmission can result in case the Pemra orders were to be flouted.

The Army also recently took a "strong exception" to "intensified and deliberate attempts" to drag its name into the country's ongoing political discourse by "some political leaders, journalists and analysts".

The military's media wing had noted that attempts to involve the armed forces and its senior leadership in the political discourse were "manifest through direct, insinuated or nuanced references made by some political leaders, few journalists and analysts on public forums and various communication platforms, including social media".

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