Summary Transmission of several television news channels went off air for about six hours on afternoon of Saturday October 25, 2014 in Karachi and the other part of the Sindh province after threats were received by unidentified men on telephone to some cable operators. Without naming any political party, the Cable Operators Association President Khalid Arain said they were threatened by a political party to suspend the transmission of these channels and they had no other option but to comply with. According to Daily ""The Nation"" Arain said this party wanted to shut the channels’ transmissions as they did not give due coverage to their recent event. “They threatened to set our systems on fire,” he said. One faction of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) however put the blame Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the largest political party of urban Sindh province and asked the party to seek apology for this illegal act within 24 hours. The PFUJ press release said if MQM failed to apologize, press clubs and media organisations will hold protest demonstrations against it. PFUJ President Muhammad Afzal Butt and its General Secretary Khursheed Abbasi warned that if MQM failed to apologize, the journalist fraternity will not only boycott the programs arranged by MQM but will stage protests outside venues of these ceremonies as well. Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Iman Memon strongly condemned the forced closure of news channels. He said the government would not allow anyone to make media hostage through verbal threats or at gun-point.
Summary Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on June 20, 2014 suspended licenses of two private TV channels, 'Geo Entertainment' and 'ARY News', just hours before the ending of 15-day suspension period of Geo News. Geo Entertainment has been fined with one-month suspension along with Rs10 million fine, while the license of ARY News is suspended for 15 days and a same fine amount imposed on it. PEMRA suspended these licenses and imposed fine due to violation of rules, reportedly committed by Geo Entertainment and ARY News. According to PEMRA release, Geo Entertainment is suspended because of airing blasphemous content on its morning show. The license of ARY News was suspended over complaints about malicious statements against the judiciary on one of its talk shows. This is the second suspension faced by Geo TV network as Geo News was earlier suspended for 15 days by PEMRA in an order issued on June 6, 2014.
Summary Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on June 6, 2014 suspended Geo TV’s license for 15 days and imposed a fine of Rs10 million (US$ 100,000) , on a complaint filed by the Ministry of Defence on April 22 against airing unsubstantiated allegations against the chief of Pakistan military Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). The five-member committee of PEMRA suspended the licenses of Geo News, Geo Entertainment and Geo Tez TV out of five TV channels owned and operated by Geo/Jang group. According to a PEMRA press release the fine has to be paid before the expiry of suspension period. It was also decided that in case of repeated violation by Geo TV the regulatory agency shall initiate proceedings for the revocation of the license. Earlier on May 20, Pemra’s private members had announced their decision to suspend the licences of Geo News, Geo Entertainment and Geo Tez till May 28. However, the decision was disowned by the Pemra spokesperson hours after the announcement. Geo News had already apologised for the airing of unsubstantiated allegations.
Summary In the aftermath of allegations and counter allegations following the April 19 attempted murder of popular anchor Hamid Mir, Pakistan government sought to ban the country’s largest television channel on the complaint initiated by the country’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. On April 22, 2014 the federal Ministry of Defence filed a reference with Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for tarnishing the image of ISI. PEMRA, which has the authority to suspend or cancel the broadcast licenses, issued a show cause notice asking the Geo administration to submit its reply within 14 days. Pemra also directed chief executive of Geo News to appear in person on May 6. Geo has challenged the notice by Pemra in the Sindh High Court, which has issued notices to the federal government and has fixed May 2 for hearing. Tensions rose between ISI and Geo after the channel broadcast allegations by Mir’s brother that the journalist had told his family, employers, government and army officials that some officials of ISI including its Director General, Lt. Gen Zaheerul Islam had prepared a plan to eliminate him. Geo reported that cable operators have blocked Geo’s transmissions in military cantonment areas and newspaper vendors in these areas have been directed not distribute newspaper of the group. Geo has also alleged that these ‘illegal’ actions have been taken on orders of ‘some forces’. The Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) in an emergency meeting unanimously declared that closure of any media house or cancellation of licence of any channel or publication will not be acceptable. CPNE said such action will lead to a grave crisis and will do irreparable harm to the democratic Pakistan. The meeting also declared that the right to freedom of speech is enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan and the state should provide adequate protection to journalists against threats from any quarter. The meeting strongly condemned the attack on Mir and demanded that the government to take immediate and swift action to ensure the safety of all the media persons.