In light of Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) directives, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has barred anchorpersons from ‘appearing as experts’ in talk shows.
A notification issued on Sunday said that media persons, instead of appearing as experts on their news channel or others, should stick to their role of ‘moderator.’
As per the PEMRA code of conduct, the role of anchors is to moderate the programs in an objective, unbiased, and impartial manner, excluding themselves from their personal opinions, biases, and judgments on any issue. Therefore, anchors hosting exclusive regular shows should not appear in talk shows whether own or other channels as subject matter expert.
The media watchdog has also asked news channels to select their guests carefully as per their knowledge and expertise on a particular subject.
Participants/invitees should be selected with due care having credibility as fair and unbiased analysts with requisite knowledge/expertise on the subject matter.
The notification has come in the backdrop of IHC’s proceedings on October 26, when Chief Justice Athar Minallah scolded five leading anchors for discussing mala fide information.
On a talk show, these anchorpersons had linked the high court’s bail approval for convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif with an alleged deal.
The court also chided PEMRA for not actively monitoring TV channels and letting news channels malign judiciary during live shows and misguiding the public.
“This was believed to be an attempt to tarnish the image and integrity of honorable superior courts and to make their judgment controversial,” it added.
PEMRA opined that it had been issuing notices to several media persons and had even suspended the services of some channels for violating the rules. However, these measures were interpreted as ‘media curbs’ imposed by the government.
Now, therefore, all news channels are hereby directed henceforth; refrain from airing discussion, analysis, speculations, etc., on sub judice matters.
The watchdog also directed TV channels to adopt a time delay mechanism to ensure effective content monitoring.
The regulatory authority also barred the channels without a delay mechanism to refrain from telecasting live shows.
Any non-compliance will be strictly dealt with under sections 27, 29, 30, and 33 of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 as amended by the Pemra (Amendment) Act 2007, it added.