The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday wrote a letter to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) seeking action against media channels violating the code of conduct for the February 8 polls.

The letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, stated that it was observed some media channels were airing poll surveys, a practice that is “explicitly prohibited under Clause 12 of ECP’s Code of Conduct for National Media”.

According to the said clause, any media person on print, electronic and social media “shall not obstruct the election process and must display their accreditation cards provided by the Election Commission”.

The ECP elaborated that the clause emphasises that both print and social media should refrain from conducting polls and surveys at polling stations or constituencies.

“Such activities have the potential to influence voters’ free choice and may disrupt the electoral process,” the electoral watchdog stated.

It subsequently urged Pemra to take “prompt and immediate action” against electronic media channels in strict alignment with Clause 12 of the ECP’s Code of Conduct for National Media.

“A compliance report in this regard shall also be shared with this office as soon as possible for placing before the Election Commission,” the letter added.

ECP’s code of conduct for media

The 18-point code of conduct for media prepared by the ECP states that the content floated on print, electronic and digital media during the election campaign “shall not reflect any opinion prejudicial to the ideology, sovereignty, uprightness or security of Pakistan, public order or the integrity and independence of the judiciary of Pakistan”.

It highlighted that allegations and statements harming national solidarity or may create a law and order situation during the election campaign and on polling day shall be strictly avoided on print and electronic media and by any media person, newspaper and channel.

The ECP said content on media shall not include any aspect which may be construed as a personal attack on a candidate or political party and any allegation should include the comments from both sides.

It added that Pemra, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Press Information Department (PID), and the Cyber Wing and Digital Media Wing of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoIB) would be responsible for monitoring the coverage given to political parties and candidates for their election campaigns through electronic channels, print and social media.

“The above authorities shall submit to the commission details of payments made by the political parties and candidates within 10 days after poll day,” the ECP said.

During coverage of the polling process, media persons shall not obstruct directly or indirectly in any pre-election, election or post-election process, the commission further stated. The media is also not allowed to air any unofficial result of a polling station until one hour has passed after the close of the poll.

In case of violation of this Code of Conduct, the Election Commission of Pakistan reserves the right to withdraw the accreditation of an individual journalist/media organisation, the ECP warned, adding that the authority to determine the violation also rests with the electoral body.

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