Pemra asked to probe TV channel blackout

Apr 08 2008

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KARACHI, April 7: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sherry Rehman has asked the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to investigate how transmissions of two major satellite television networks were suspended on Monday.

All channels of the Geo and ARY networks, including their news channels, were off air for over two hours on Monday evening in Karachi and other major cities of Sindh.

Ms Rehman made it clear that the government had nothing to do with the suspension. However, she said, a certain political party was reported to be behind the blackout.

An official of the All Pakistan Cable Operators Association cited ‘technical problems’ for the suspension of transmission. “The transmission of Geo and ARY was restored after two hours. It was because of some technical problems. We are trying to determine the exact reason,” said Khalid Arain, vice-chairman of the association.

However, sources told Dawn that a political party had forced cable operators to keep the two networks off the air after their news channels reportedly showed footage of the manhandling of former chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim in Sindh assembly premises.

Meanwhile, MQM leader Saleem Shahzad told Geo television from London that the PPP leaders ‘were intoxicated with power’.

Reacting to Monday’s incident in the Sindh assembly, he warned that if the PPP had managed to get a few hundred of its workers in the provincial assembly, the MQM could bring thousands of its workers there. “News channels, which condemned the May 12 incident for days without break, did not cover this incident,” he said while referring to the attack on the former CM.