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PEMRA bars channels from giving air time to ‘hate mongers, facilitators’ of May 9 mayhem

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA)  has bared the channels from giving air time to ‘hate mongers, facilitators’ of the May 9 mayhem, in the newly issued guidelines.

PEMRA referred to the events of “Black Day” on May 9 — when violent protests broke out across many cities in the country following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

PEMRA stated that while the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to freedom of expression, there are exceptions to this right.

“As per Article 19 of The Constitution of The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan or any part thereof friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offense,” the broadcasting regulator notified.

“It is crucial to strike a balance between protecting freedom of speech and maintaining public order,” PEMRA added.

On May 9, the notification stated, “zealots of [a] political party” attacked state and public properties, endangered innocent lives, and promoted anti-state to weaken the country and state institutions, adding that caution must be exercised in this regard.

This is a terrible trend, which should be condemned, the notification stated.

“In the wake of aforementioned scenario, all satellite TV channel licensees are directed to remain vigilant and not to promote any hate monger, perpetrators, and their facilitators inadvertently,” it added.

“The licensee shall ensure that nothing is contained in any programme, or an advertisement, which is prejudicial to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan, Ideology of Pakistan, security, friendly relations with foreign states, public order or which may constitute contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence or brings into disrepute the State institutions including armed forces,” the notification read.

It further directed all licensees “to adhere to [the] provisions of PEMRA laws and orders of the superior courts by refraining from providing their airtime to such individuals who propagate hate speech and provoke public sentiments against the Federation and State Institutions.”

Furthermore, PEMRA notified that all broadcasters must make use of an effective time delay mechanism to ensure effective monitoring of the content being aired live.

“No licensee shall broadcast any live programme unless there is an effective delaying mechanism put in place in order to ensure effective monitoring and editorial control in conformity with this Code,” the notification added.

Saman Siddiqui

Saman Siddiqui, A freelance journalist with a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication and MS in Peace and Conflict Studies. Associated with the media industry since 2006. Experience in various capacities including Program Host, Researcher, News Producer, Documentary Making, Voice Over, Content Writing Copy Editing, and Blogging, and currently associated with OyeYeah since 2018, working as an Editor.

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