ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued a contempt of court notice to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman Saleem Baig for using the court’s name to issue strict guidelines to media houses and anchorpersons on Tuesday (October 29).
A notice by Pemra was issued to private TV channels, banning the appearance of anchorpersons on different television channels as analysts. This sparked controversy and a number of PTI leaders as well as other notable media persons came out on various platforms disapproving of the action.
The court had issued show cause notices to the chief executive officer of BOL TV and anchorperson Sami Ibrahim, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah appointed the advocate general for Islamabad “for prosecuting the persons against whom show cause notices have been issued”.
The court has appointed prominent journalists I.A. Rehman, M. Ziauddin, Javed Jabbar, president of their own faction of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists to give proper representation in case of any similar issues.
Afzal Butt and Shakeel Masood have also been appointed amici curiae (adviser to the court) to handle the matter related to regulations for private media houses.
The amici curiae (advisors to the court) as per the court order “will also assist regarding enforcement of code of conduct prescribed in Schedule A of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Rules, 2009”.
Regarding the anchorperson who linked the release of Mr Sharif with a deal made with the government, the court ordered BOL TV and Hum TV to submit recordings of their programs in three days.
Chief Justice Minallah called the Pemra chairman to the rostrum and asked if the court had in any way directed or hinted to the regulator to impose a ban on anchorpersons’ appearance on television channels as analysts. Mr Baig could not give a plausible or satisfactory explanation.
Hamid Mir discussed the unannounced censorship, saying that certain unknown elements tried to influence TV channels regarding their programs or news content. He urged the court to deal with such entities accordance with the law that tried to deny freedom of media.
Chief Justice Minallah stated he was aware of this fact as well but at the moment the court was not inclined to proceed in this matter. He, however, asked Mr Mir to suggest some possible measures related the matter
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