Pemra issues notice
to ‘News One’ for airing
derogatory remarks on
award minister Murad Saeed

0
15

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Friday issued a show-cause notice to TV channel News One for airing “derogatory/demeaning remarks” about federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed “without any editorial check” in a programme.

Saeed was singled out for particular praise by Prime Minister Imran Khan for the performance of his Ministry of Communications which ranked first in a ceremony on Thursday to celebrate the top 10 best performing federal ministries.

While handing performance awards to his top-performing ministers on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan singled out for particular praise Murad Saeed whose Ministry of Communications sat atop the list of top 10 best performing government divisions.

During a commentary session later that day, analysts at G for Gharidah, flagship programme of otherwise lesser-known News One channel, questioned the government’s decision to award Saeed the honour, making several disparaging and suggestive remarks about the minister and insinuating other factors behind the award than his ministry’s performance while anchor Gharida Farooqi apparently made no real effort to stop them from doing so.

PEMRA observed that the “unprofessional/demeaning remarks” were aired without any editorial control or time-delay mechanism in place.

Airing such remarks “raises serious concerns on the performance of [the] channel’s editorial policy and gatekeeping tools being adopted/practiced”, it added.

Gharidah Farooqi

The regulator said the remarks were in “sheer violation” of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002, as (Amendment) Act, 2007, several clauses of the Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisement) Code of Conduct, 2015, and the orders of the Supreme Court in a 2018 case.

It further directed the management to respond within four days as to why legal action — including a fine, suspension and revocation of licence along with other measures — should not be initiated against the channel.

The CEO or an authorised representative was directed to appear before the body at its headquarters in Islamabad on February 15 with a written response.

“In case of non-compliance, ex-parte legal action shall be taken against the licensee in accordance with relevant provisions of PEMRA Laws,” the notice warned.

Farooqi landed in hot waters in 2017 when police recovered from her residence in Lahore a young girl purportedly employed as a housemaid, and who her father said was being held captive against her and her family’s will.

The Pemra notice, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said that News One had aired a show, G for Gharidah, on Thursday at 10:05pm where the anchor and panelists had questioned the decision to award Saeed the top honour and made several critical and disparaging remarks about the federal minister, insinuating other factors behind the award than his ministry’s performance.

The notice criticised that such “unprofessional/demeaning remarks” were aired without any editorial control or time delay mechanism in place. It added that airing such remarks “raises serious concerns on the performance of [the] channel’s editorial policy and gatekeeping tools being adopted/practiced”.

Pemra said the remarks were in “sheer violation” of Pemra Ordinance 2002 as (Amendment) Act, 2007; several clauses of the Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisement) Code of Conduct, 2015 and the orders of the Supreme Court in a 2018 suo moto case.

The regulatory body directed the channel’s CEO to reply in writing within four days as to why legal action including a fine, suspension and revocation of licence along with other measures should not be initiated. The CEO or an authorised representative was directed to appear before the body at its headquarters in Islamabad on Tuesday with a written reply.

“In case of non-compliance, ex-parte legal action shall be taken against the licensee in accordance with relevant provisions of PEMRA Laws,” the notice warned.