Top court restores licence of private TV channel

Last week, PEMRA had suspended the licence of Neo channel for 'unlawfully' airing news and current affairs content


​ Our Correspondent May 11, 2020
Last week, PEMRA had suspended the licence of Neo channel for 'unlawfully' airing news and current affairs content. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday restored the licence of a private news channel, Neo TV, and barred the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) from taking any action against it for a period of 15 days.

The channel through its counsel Barrister Ali Zafar challenged the regulatory's body order and argued before the apex court that the Pemra's move to suspend the licence is against the law.

After hearing the arguments, the apex court's bench, led by Justice Mushir Alam, allowed the channel to return to airwaves and contest its case against the top media regulatory body.

Last week, Pemra had suspended the licence of Neo TV due to the non-compliance of licence terms and conditions, maintaining that the channel had obtained a licence only for airing entertainment programmes but it "unlawfully" air news and current affairs content.

IHC bars PEMRA from issuing new licences

Barrister Zafar apprised the court that Pemra had issued a licence to Neo TV under the 'Pemra Ordinance 2002' and its request to change its category from entertainment to current affairs and news was rejected by the top media regulatory body "on the ground that under the 'Regulations of 2012' the changes can not be made in category of the licence".

The channel had also approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for change in the category, but the court dismissed its application.

He pleaded that under the law change in the category of the TV licence is allowed and could only be refused in the matters related to public interest.

The counsel also maintained that according to the law, the rules and regulations cannot surpass the law and Pemra has acted beyond its jurisdiction after it banned the amendment in the licence category.

He argued before the bench that Pemra amended the regulations without the approval of the federal government and cabinet which he said is contrary to the law.

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