Popular British news channel, BBC World News was taken off air by a number of Pakistani cable television operators late on Tuesday after proclaiming to ‘ban’ the channel for airing anti-Pakistan programming following a NATO air strike on a Pakistani border check post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The All Pakistan Cable Operators Association (APCOA), a body of cable tv operators, held a press briefing in Lahore where they demanded the country’s primary electronic media regulator, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to revoke landing rights to BBC.
APCOA chairman, Kamran Arain said “we want to send them a strong message to stop this. If they don’t stop this, then it is our right to stop them,” referring to pulling the channel off from their cable networks.
The operators say that the move is in response to a documentary broadcast by the channel, entitled Secret Pakistan.
Other foreign TV channels found guilty of broadcasting “anti-Pakistan” content will also be blocked, they threatened.
The BBC said it was deeply concerned by the move, and called for its channel to be speedily reinstated.
“We condemn any action that threatens our editorial independence and prevents audiences from accessing our impartial international news service,” a BBC spokesperson said.
“We would urge that BBC World News and other international news services are reinstated as soon as possible.”
However, the channel was off air soon after the APCOA press conference was over.
@KurtAchin, Voice of America’s Bureau chief stationed in Islamabad tweeted:
“BBC signal just disappeared in my Islamabad office, following Pakistani cable operators to cut signal over “anti-Pakistan” programming”.
@norbalm, a Karachi based Security Risk Manager tweeted:
“BBC and FOXNEWS off on Worldcall in Karachi now”
Another tweeter, @evo8X8 k wrote:
“my cable operator takes CNN, BBC, & FOX now off… enter AL-JAZEERA”
Though some suggested that it was not a uniform ban with
“well on my cable even Fox news is coming so is BBC & sky news & RT @SaadParacha: @FoxNews is on”
The source of the ban
A two-part BBC documentary, “Secret Pakistan“, questioned the country’s commitment to tackling Taliban militancy. It furthered festering Pakistani anger towards the west after a NATO air stirke on a Pakistani border check post killed 24 soldiers.
It argued that some in Pakistan were playing a double game, quoting US intelligence officials as saying that they acted as America’s ally in public while secretly training and arming the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The decision to block BBC World News and other international news channels comes after a media uproar in Pakistan over a Nato air strike that killed 24 Pakistani troops near the Afghan border at the weekend.