LAHORE: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority’s (Pemra) decision to suspend the broadcast of live coverage of Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan’s sit in from Islamabad was challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC).
The petition sought strict action against PEMRA Chairman Absar Alam. Pemra’s decision was challenged by Amina Malik who contended that Chairman Absar Alam violated the law through these orders.
She contended that according to the Constitution and Information Act, every citizen has the right to be informed about the ongoing situation in the country. “However, the authority blacked out the channels.” She asked the court to take strict action against the Pemra chairman for the illegal step.
The federal government, on Sunday evening, allowed television channels to resume transmission on the condition they will follow the code of conduct.
The transmission was shut down for 28 hours to avoid giving live coverage to the abortive operation launched by the police and Frontier Constabulary on Saturday against the protesters of the Faizabad sit-in.
The decision was taken during a meeting between Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In a statement, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the transmission of TV channels was restored in pursuance of the directives of the PM.
“Suspending the transmissions was a painful decision which had to be taken in national interest after exhaustive deliberations with a view to prevent the spread of chaos and anarchy in the country,” the minister said in the statement.
Private news channels were taken off air across the country on Saturday afternoon following the notification of Pemra which was issued at around 11am, barring live coverage of the operation.
Despite the warning, marathon coverage of stone pelting, tear gassing and skirmishes of police with rioters continued unabated. It led to countrywide protests in favour of the protesters, while public from the twin cities also started assembling around the sit-in venue.
In view of the precarious situation, the government took all the private TV channels off air while the state-run PTV was left for running for public access to news and updates.
The decision to take TV channels off air and block social media sites was widely condemned by journalists and cyber activists.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2017.