Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) monitored print and electronic media’s week-long news from June 13 to 19 in which it found following issues: Print and electronic media widely covered news related to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) notice to television channels, Sindh Assembly banned live media coverage of its events owing to security concerns, Nation Assembly Speaker said media should not report expunged words in news, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), along with PEMRA, filed an application against ARY News television channel for airing a news that Pakistan’s Finance Minister held a meeting with Panama’s Deputy Minister for Economy, Ivan Zarak in Washington.
During the week, PPF found 56 news, tickers, headlines and programmes on electronic media, including 92 News, Aaj News, Abb Takk, ARY News, Capital TV, Dawn News, Dunya News, Express News, Geo News, Jaag News, Khyber News, KTN, Neo News, NewsOne, Samaa and TV One.
There were 61 news stories, editorials, articles and pictures in 18 daily newspapers in English, Urdu and Sindhi languages that include Dawn, The News, The Nation, Express Tribune, Business Recorder, Pakistan Today, Regional Times, Jang, Dunya, Roznama Express, Nawa-e-Waqt, Pakistan, Intikhab, Quami Akhbar, Aman, Kawish, Ibrat and Awami Awaaz.
PEMRA issues notice to television channels
PEMRA on June 17 imposed a ban on Hamza Ali Abbasi, an actor for hosting a show “Ramazan Hamara Iman” on Aaj News and Shabbir Abu Talib, a TV host for hosting “Ishq-e-Ramadan” on NewsOne.
This ban was discussed in program “Zara Hat Kay” on Dawn News television channel and was also reported by newspapers The Nation, The News, Business Recorder, Pakistan Today, Regional Times, Dawn, Daily Intikhab and Nawa-e-Waqt on June 18, 2016.
According to the newspapers and television channels, the ban was imposed on two hosts for promoting controversial and sectarian views. In one of his recent episodes, Abbasi discussed the oppression of the Ahmadi community, asking his guest whether the state could declare a community as non-Muslim. During the same episode, he said he would discuss the Ahmadi community as well as the blasphemy law during the last days of Ramazan.
According to PEMRA, it had received 1,133 complaints through Whatsapp, Twitter and telephone calls regarding the transmissions. The regulatory body asked the television channels to implement the decision by 7:00 pm on June 17, 2016, but TV channel owners, anchors, and audience indulged in non-seriousness and irresponsible conversations.
The PEMRA notification stated if Abbasi, Talib and religious preacher Maulana Kokab Noorani appear on any other channel and discuss this controversial issue or any other such topic, the programme would also be banned.
In another case, PEMRA issued a notice to NewOne television channel for airing a verbal clash between Jamiat Ulema-e-Isam-Fazl (JUI-F) Lawmaker Hafiz Hamdullah and Woman Rights Activist Marvi Sirmed on June 11.
Daily Pakistan on June 16 published an editorial, while The Nation and Jang on June 13, and Daily Express on June 14 reported that in the notice issued to the channel, the media regulator demanded the reason for airing the intense verbal exchange by June 17 and strictly warned the news channel of the consequences for airing such heated words exchange that could bring Rs1 million fine or cancellation of the channel programme, ‘Nadia Mirza Show’. In the notice, the host Nadia Mirza has been accused of not practicing control during the verbal scurrilous fight between the two participants.
They were debating over rising cases of honour killings in various parts of the country, women protection bill and role of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). Aggressive exchange of arguments between the two initiated when Sirmed started speaking. The TV channel beeped some comments and displayed the Senator suddenly going out of the show.
PEMRA moved to send a notice to NewsOne over the abuse hurled at Sirmed, an analyst, by Hafiz Hamdullah.
The host Nadia Mirza is deemed responsible for failing to control her guests intentionally. The first charge may be a bit harsh, as the footage does show the host trying to calm the situation.
PEMRA also issued a show-cause notice to Geo Entertainment channel for airing inappropriate content including ‘suicide scenes’ during its programme.
According to Pakistan Today and Daily Amn, Geo TV’s anchor Dr Amir Liaquat Hussain in his June 13 programme showed scenes “of a girl committing suicide”.
The notification said showing suicide scenes and dramatizing the act were completely banned. The regulatory body called for an explanation from Geo by June 21 and questioned “why it should not ban the program Inaam Ghar”. Therefore, Geo could face a fine of Rs 1 million for not abiding by the PEMRA regulations.
Sindh Assembly bans its events’ live media coverage
Sindh Assembly has banned live media coverage of its events owing to security concerns. Assembly’s Speake Agha Siraj Durrani said the assembly faced multiple security threats.
On 15 June, Business Recorder, Daily Pakistan, Regional Times, Express Tribune, The Nation, and Jang reported in April that ARY News’ anchor entered the assembly hiding a pistol. This move reportedly was made by the media team to expose the assembly’s vulnerable security condition.
The anchor along with his team was later arrested from the assembly’s premises after he took out the weapon and placed it before the speaker. Earlier in the same month, an isolated bag had caused panic in an assembly session, making lawmakers think that it might contain a bomb. Speaker Durrani had asked the Sindh Assembly staff to put the bag in water, but later, it was known that the bag belongs to Sharmila Farooqi, Special Assistant to Sindh Chief Minister for Culture and Tourism.
Abb Takk, Dunya News, Geo News, and Samaa on June 13 aired the story, while Dawn News, Express News and Jaag in a follow-up on June 14, telecast the news of media ban. The 92 News and Abb Takk on June 19 broadcast the meeting of journalists over media ban in the assembly.
Geo News and ARY News on June 14 and 16 reported while Regional Times and Pakistan Today on June 15 published a press release with National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq’s statement that both print and electronic media should not report the expunged words in their news items.
According to the news, speaker said that whenever the words were expunged, the media was communicated as it had the responsibility to refrain from reporting such material. He expressed the hope that the media would play its positive role in this regard.
In this connection, Dr Shireen Mazari asked whether it was not the responsibility of the ministers to avoid using expunged words.
NAB decides to file application with PEMRA against TV channels
NAB has decided to file an application with PEMRA against TV channels for making allegations in a TV programme aired on June 13.
On 15 June, The News and Express Tribune, and 92 News television channel on June 14 reported that the allegations were baseless and the bureau rejected them strongly. In a statement, NAB termed the programme telecast a bundle of lies and said it was all based on unfounded allegations. It was said that allegations of drawing illegal pension were wrong.
ARY News case
Balochistan Express on June 15 reported the Additional District and Session Judge Islamabad West summoned ARY Chief Executive Officer Salman Iqbal, and anchors Arshad Sharif and Asad Kharal on June 17 for airing defamatory news without seeking confirmation that alleged that the Finance Minister had held a meeting with Panamian Deputy Minister for Economy, Ivan Zarak in Washington.
In the follow-up, The News on June 18 reported that a criminal complaint was filed by JS Investment Limited against Asad Kharal on March 4, 2016 for misleading public and maligning the company’s image in a programme “Kab Tak” in a bid to defame the company. The case was registered under section 499, 500, and 501 PPC against Asad Kharal (anchor Kab Tak Programme, Head of Investigation ARY News) for airing the defamatory and misleading program against the company.
Jang on June 19 reported, the court has again issued warrant against ARY’s Asad Kharal on 20 august. The warrant was again issued because the accused was not present in the court on June 18.
US Consul General leads journalists team on CEJ tour
The representatives of different journalists unions of Karachi visited the Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) at Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi on 16 June. They praised the centre’s administration for taking steps to improve skills of print and electronic media’s young journalists.
On 17 June, Roznama Express, The News and Regional Times reported this visit, while Roznama Express and The News also published the group’s pictures.
US Consul General invited the journalists group and led them on CEJ’s tour. While talking to the visiting journalists, he said: “This Centre for Excellence in Journalism aims to help journalists gain and improve their skills so that they can play their indispensable role in the public discourse of their country.”
Health and security of journalists
The apex court asked for a reply from the federal government over a plea filed by the Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS) to ensure job and health security to working journalists.
On 16 June, Express Tribune reported that apex court’s two-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, resumed the hearing of the media commission case, with PAS president Hasnaat Mehmood Malik and ex-president Ghulam Nabi Yousafzai. They requested that no media code of conduct be implemented without including working journalists in the policy making.
The issues related to working journalists and their job or health security in the profession were discussed and the case of senior journalist Sadaqat Chaudhry, who recently died without access to proper treatment, was also discussed.