Govt Considering Censoring TV Channels For ‘Unwanted Content’

Freedom Network has expressed serious concern at a report that the federal government is going ahead with changes in regulatory framework for controlling contents on TV channels.

“This move will be in direct contravention with fundamental right to know and steps being taken in the name of national security will be unacceptable to gauge free and independent media in Pakistan,” Freedom Network [FN], Pakistan’s first media rights organization, said on March 24, 2015, in a press freedom alert.

A report in Dawn newspaper read that the government “is mulling the option of blocking transmission of TV channels to cable operators and television sets to stop the broadcast of ‘unwanted’ content.”

Pakistan has seen mushroom growth of vibrant electronic media in the last one decade and any move to roll back the freedom viewers enjoy in Pakistan would be resisted, the alert read.

“We call on lawmakers to oppose any such changes in the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) that may tantamount to denying the public their right to know,” FN press freedom alert said.

According to the report, the government has discussed a possible amendment to the PEMRA Act 2007.

After the attack on Hamid Mir, one of the country’s best-known TV anchors, in April 2014, the government and security establishment used the PEMRA to “punish” certain TV channels, including Geo News, Geo Entertainment and ARY News, on different grounds.

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