PTV continues blackout of opposition lawmakers in NA coverage

Published March 5, 2024
PTI MNAs Asad Qaiser (L) and Omar Ayub (R) speak in the National Assembly on March 4. — DawnNewsTV
PTI MNAs Asad Qaiser (L) and Omar Ayub (R) speak in the National Assembly on March 4. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The state-owned electronic media on Monday continued blocking speeches made by members of National Assembly (MNAs) belonging to the opposition. However, the authorities concerned expressed ignorance about the decision to black out the opposition.

Leaders of PTI, who are sitting under the banner of Sunni Itehad Council (SIC) in the lower house of parliament, have announced to submit a privilege motion against Pakistan Television (PTV).

Speaking in the National Assembly on Monday morning before Shehbaz Sharif took oath as the prime minister, Omer Ayub conveyed his concerns to the speaker and said the state media was discriminating against them.

“My speech was not aired by PTV while I was making a speech yesterday (Sunday) as a candidate for the slot of prime minister,” Mr Ayub said, adding: “This was despite the fact that not a single word from my speech was expunged by the speaker. The question is why Shehbaz Sharif’s speech was aired directly.” He also announced to submit a privilege motion against the PTV.

SIC legislators to file privilege motion against state-owned electronic media

Incidentally, after his speech, there was a total blackout of Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Akhtar Mengal whereas there were repeated blockades and interruptions by PTV when Asad Qaiser was given the floor. Their speeches were not only censured on the PTV telecast but also PTV’s channel on social media.

The privilege motion against PTV will be referred to the NA committee on rules and privileges after it will be formed.

Later in his speech, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari referred to the complaint of Omar Ayub that the opposition members’ speeches were not being broadcast on the state-run TV.

He said: “We should not continue this tradition [of censorship] set by Khan sahib. We have to make decisions that strengthen this house and brighten the country’s future.”

He said our colleagues would have been able to listen to the prime minister’s speech if they had not been protesting.

On the other hand, no authority acknowledged responsibility for the blackout of coverage.

Murtaza Solangi was the caretaker minister for information and broadcasting till the oath-taking of Mr Sharif as prime minister on Monday afternoon.

When he was asked about the reasons for the blackout of the speeches by the MNAs belonging to the opposition, Mr Solangi said the PTV managing director was the responsible person to answer the query. However, there was no reply either from the secretary information or the PTV chief.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2024

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