IHC directs PEMRA to restore Geo News to original position on TV channel ordering

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad supreme court on Wednesday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory agency (PEMRA) to revive Geo News to its original placements on channel order, a couple of days after the media regulatory agency had illegally pack up the channel’s broadcast and relegated it to lower numbers.

The court ruled that PEMRA will make sure that complaints of it meddling in TV channels broadcast are resolved. “The relevant officer must satisfy the court that PEMRA is fulfilling its constitutional responsibility,” stated the court.

Earlier, the Islamabad supreme court issued notices on Wednesday to the Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory agency (PEMRA) and Special Assistant to the PM on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan during a case associated with the closure and relegation of Geo News to lower placements on channel ordering.

Chief Justice of the Islamabad supreme court Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition today, which has been submitted through Barrister Jahangir Jadoon by Raja Ahsan Mahmood Satti.

Barrister Jadoon presented the arguments, stating that media is one among the elemental pillars of society which the matter pertains to freedom of expression and basic rights.

The barrister said that if the govt was irked by any action of the media, the platform of PEMRA is there to boost the difficulty .

In his arguments, the lawyer noted that Geo News has faced similar issues within the past, adding that it had been the public’s prerogative to look at the channel of their choice.

The barrister also presented before the court a couple of references from earlier rulings of the Supreme Court in reference to the topic .

The supreme court , following the arguments, issued notices to those nominated within the petition, including the secretary information technology, SAPM Awan and PEMRA Chairman Saleem Baig.

The court has sought a response from the persons nominated within the case against the allegations.

The court also asked the PEMRA chairman to nominate an individual from his side who can appear before it on subsequent hearing.

The IHC subsequently adjourned the hearing of the case until March 24.

‘Asked in court why Geo News was targeted’

Barrister Jadoon while chatting with the media after the hearing said he had raised the question in court regarding Geo News being targeted.

“People pay fees to cable operators in order that they will view the channel of their own choice,” said Jadoon. He said that earlier PEMRA had assured before the SC that it’ll not disturb Geo News, adding that the IHC has summoned PEMRA officials to reply on March 24 during this regard.

The lawyer added the IHC was also notified about the channel being relegated to lower numbers within the court premises also.

Got evidence of Geo News being pushed to lower numbers: Hamid Mir
Senior anchor Hamid Mir also addressed media, where he said that they need evidence of cable operators being asked to push the channel to lower numbers and can provide information before the supreme court on subsequent hearing.

The senior journalist further said that the barrister had provided the regard to similar petitions to the apex court, during which the court ruled that PEMRA should objectively take care of every TV channel’s interests.

In one among the previous cases before the SC, PEMRA had issued a press release associated with not disturbing the sequence of channels.

On March 13, cable operators throughout Pakistan started receiving orders to right away pack up Geo TV’s broadcast or relegate the channel to lower numbers in channel listings.

The instructions were issued right after SAPM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan concluded her news conference concerning the arrest of Jang Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

It was reported that the closure of Geo News came on directives from PEMRA, but the PEMRA chairman himself denied he had issued any orders thereto effect.

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