A report has revealed that more than 500 cases, filed by PEMRA against TV channels, are on-going in courts. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi previously urged Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to drop pending cases against TV channels. The advice came in a month ago after he was informed that litigation fees suck a huge chunk of money from the treasury.
PM advised the regulator to drop the cases against channels working without licenses on stay order. According to reports, various channels are working regardless of rules’ violations, show cause notices and fines by PEMRA by getting a stay order from court.
As per the report, when violations are done against judiciary, the court gives verdicts in favor of PEMRA without delays. However, stay orders are issued for most of the remaining cases.
Over 500 cases involving PEMRA are pending in courts, with most of them in Lahore High Court. The cases are divided as follows;
- 158 cases in Lahore High Court
- 137 in Sindh High Court
- 121 in Islamabad High Court
- 37 in Supreme Court of Pakistan
- 51 in lower courts
- 8 in Peshawar High Court
One of the other reasons behind these pending cases is hiring of inexperienced lawyers by PEMRA. as it has only collected Rs 75 million in fines from channels in last two years. The money is given to the federal government when decisions are in favor of PEMRA. The real challenge arises when court’s decision is challenged.
Only 20 million is allocated annually in litigation fees. This budget makes the authority rely on junior lawyers to fight their cases. On the other hand, profiting channels have huge sum of money at their disposal so they hire experienced staff.
The channels are allowed to continue their operations once they get the stay order.