- Says some channels are airing content that amounts to vilifying state institutions
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) on Monday issued directives to all satellite TV channels to refrain from airing content against the armed forces and judiciary.
"It has been observed that a few satellite TV channels are airing content which is tantamount to casting aspersions against state institutions i.e. armed forces and judiciary," the authority said, adding that airing such content violated PEMRA rules, provisions of the PEMRA Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisement) Code of Conduct 2015 and the principles laid down by the courts.
PEMRA in its detailed statement said that even though freedom of speech and expression are fundamental rights, they are subject to "reasonable restrictions imposed by the law in the interest of Islam, the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to the contempt of court or incitement to an offence."
It said that in compliance with the relevant PEMRA laws and regulations, any entity that is granted a license by the authority should comply with its codes of programmes and advertisements and appoint an in-house monitoring committee to ensure compliance.
The directive said that the content of programmes and advertisements broadcast or distributed by the broadcast media or distribution service operator should also conform to the relevant laws and provisions.
"The licensee shall ensure that no content is aired which contains aspersions against the judiciary or armed forces of Pakistan," the media watchdog said.
Furthermore, licensees should ensure that programmes on sub-judice matters should be aired in an "informative manner" and "handled objectively" and no content should be aired which could prejudice the determination by any judicial forum.
"Moreover, all satellite TV channels are further directed to ensure that an effective time-delay mechanism be put in place and an impartial and independent editorial board be constituted ... in order to ensure that their platform is not used by anyone for uttering contemptuous remarks in any manner whatsoever against any state institutions," PEMRA ordered.
It warned that in case of any violation, legal action would be taken under the relevant laws.
The directive comes a day after the military's media affairs wing said that attempts to involve the armed forces and its senior leadership in the political discourse were "manifest through direct, insinuated or nuanced references made by some political leaders, few journalists and analysts on public forums and various communication platforms, including social media".
"This practice of unsubstantiated, defamatory, and provocative statements/remarks is extremely damaging," the statement added.