‘Abb Tak’ and ‘Channel 24’ were fined by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Thursday. The two private news channels had apparently aired “baseless news” regarding Allah Dino Khawaja, the Inspector General Police (IGP) Sindh.
According to a statement released by the governmental body, the IGP Sindh, AD Khawaja, had filed a complaint against the channels. The PEMRA Council of Complaints had met in response to this and come to a decision that a fine of Rs.200,000 and Rs.300,000 would be imposed on ‘Abb Tak’ and ‘Channel 24’ respectively for “airing baseless, defamatory and unverified allegations against the complainant.”
Furthermore, the statement also revealed that the investigation concerning the complaint by the IGP Sindh had been carried out on February 8 and then March 29th for each channel against the news reporter Zille-e-Haider from Channel 24 and television program Benaqab aired on Abb Tak.
PEMRA further instructed both channels to air an apology and employ and properly use a time delay mechanism while also asking them to create an in-house editorial committee which would make sure all the content they air is in compliance with the Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015.
PEMRA Asked to Take Action Against TV Channels
The PEMRA chairman has been asked by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and National Press Club (NPC) to start taking strict action against television channels that have failed to fulfill their legal responsibilities as stated under Section 27-B of the PEMRA Act 2007.
A delegation of PFUJ and NPC members, led by PFUJ President Afzal Butt, raised this demand in a meeting with the PEMRA Chairman, Absar Alam, at his own office. The PFUJ delegation informed him about the delay and non-payment of salaries as well as illegal retrenchment of workers that is currently being done by various private television channels.
The delegation then pushed the PEMRA Chairman to agree to a proposition that the regulatory body would not recommend an increase in commercial air-time for the television channels until a law is passed making sure that owners of these channels regularly pay salaries to their workers as well as fulfill all contractual obligations.