The information and broadcasting ministry asked the country’s media regulatory body on Thursday to block Bol TV transmissions until the investigation into the channel’s parent company Axact is complete.
The inquiry that was launched after a New York Times (NYT) exposé claimed the IT company was running a “fake education empire”, resulted in the arrest of Axact CEO Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh late Tuesday night.
Hundreds of thousands of counterfeit degrees and identity cards of students were recovered earlier when FIA investigators raided the company’s office in Karachi.
Talking about the ministry’s request to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Information Secretary Muhammad Azam said the regulatory authority was advised under Section 5 of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 to ensure that Bol TV does not go on air.
Section 5 states that “the federal government may, as and when it considers necessary, issue directives to [Pemra] on matters of policy, and such directives shall be binding on the authority, and if a question arises whether any matter is a matter of policy or not, the decision of the federal government shall be final.”
According to a copy of the information ministry’s letter to Pemra, the NYT report has “severely damaged the image of the country”.
On the subject of Pemra issuing a licence to Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd for airing Bol News and Bol Entertainment channels, the ministry said some of the Axact directors, including the company’s CEO, “are known to be directors of Labbaik”. While it has been learnt that Labbaik intends to launch the Bol TV channels, the FIA has taken cognisance of the matter and an investigation is under way in this regard.
“Since the matter is under investigation, letting the channel go on air might prevent a fair and transparent inquiry,” read the letter.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2015.
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