ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Sunday slapped a ban on the broadcast of speeches and press talks of PTI chairman Imran Khan after he lashed out at former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa for what he called “protecting incumbent rulers in their alleged corruption cases” and hours later suspended the licence of ARY News for airing the clips of his speech at Zaman Park in bulletin.

It is the third ban on broadcasting and rebroadcasting of Mr Khan’s speeches and press talks on all satellite TV channels, though the first such restriction was set aside by the Islamabad High Court on Sept 6, 2022 and the other was withdrawn hours after being imposed by the government.

In its latest ‘Prohibition Order’, Pemra directed all the licencees to refrain from airing/broadcasting/rebroadcasting of speech(s)/press talks (recorded or live) of Imran Khan on their respective TV channels with immediate effect.

“In case of non-compliance, the licence will be suspended under Section 30 of the Pemra Ordinance, 2002 without any show cause notice in public interest,” the order said.

The authority noted that Imran Khan was “levelling baseless allegations and spreading hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions and officers which is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disturb public peace and tranquillity.”

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry termed the Pemra move “an attempt to silence Imran’s voice” and decided to challenge it in a court of law, asking the media fraternity to do the same.

ARY News licence suspended for ‘wilful defiance’ of prohibition order

In a late-night development, Pemra issued a suspension order to ARY News for “wilful defiance” of the prohibition order. The suspension order stated: “It is also evident that Mr Ammad Yousaf, senior executive vice president, had shared Pemra’s Order on his twitter account at 8:26pm.

“Foregoing in view, the competent authority i.e. the Pemra chairman in exercise of powers vested in Section 30(3) of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 as amended by Pemra (Amendment) Act 2007, hereby suspends broadcast satellite TV channel licence conferred to M/s ARY Communications Ltd. (ARY News) with immediate effect, till further orders.”

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2023

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