Authorities suspended on Saturday uplink facilities of nine foreign satellite news channels, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America (VoA), CNN and Al Jazeera.
Information Minister Firdous Aashiq Awan said the suspension was temporary and an inquiry had been launched to ascertain why the foreign channels were using uplinking facilities without first obtaining mandatory permission from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).
She said that certain violations had been observed in the past week’s coverage of the Abbottabad operation to kill al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. “They were spitting venom against Pakistan,” said the information minister.
After issuing show-cause notices, Pemra suspended uplink facility of Fox News, NBC News, CNN, CNS, IBN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Voice of America and Sky News for violating Section 31 of the Pemra Act of 2007.
According to the Section 31 of the act, no satellite uplink could be established “without a valid teleport or satellite TV licence from the authority (Pemra); The authority may…issue permission in writing to any party to carry out temporary uplinking (facility) from a ground transmission facility to a satellite…to transmit any programme within or outside Pakistan.” “The immediate suspension of signals of these international news channels has been made to preserve Pemra rules,” said Awan.
“They were violating Pemra rules, so we suspended their transmissions after conducting internal inquiries against them,” she added. These channels, Awan said, had been asked to submit explanations of their inappropriate behaviour within a few days.
Pemra issues temporary uplinking permission for live coverage from Pakistan for a specific event and time.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2011.