April 22, 2022 – ARY News transmission was reportedly blocked on some networks in Pakistan during Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) rally held at the Greater Iqbal Park in Lahore on Thursday, April 21. Although the media regulatory authority PEMRA denied the reports, a number of people, including journalists associated with the channel, tweeted out condemning the suspension.
The massive rally was held by PTI Chief and former prime minister Imran Khan as part of his campaigns in opposition to what he calls an “imported government”. Khan has been holding gatherings in different cities to gather support from the public since he was removed from the PM’s Office through a no-confidence vote held on April 10.
But unlike during his previous rallies in Peshawar and Karachi this month, reports emerged on Thursday of ARY News’ suspension by some cable operators, including state-owned telecommunication company PTCL, across the country.
“Many people are telling me that ARY News has been shut down in many areas of Punjab,” said ARY Digital Network CEO Salman Iqbal, adding, “especially [by] PTCL. I wonder why!”
— Salman Iqbal ARY (@Salman_ARY) April 21, 2022
Iqbal later shared a statement from the PTCL spokesperson in response to the complaints. “PTCL Smart TV has not stopped broadcasting any channel anywhere in the country.”
پی ٹی سی ایل اسمارٹ ٹی وی کی جانب سے کسی بھی چینل کی نشریات کو بند نہیں کیا گیا۔ ترجمان پی ٹی سی ایل
— PTCL (@PTCLOfficial) April 21, 2022
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) too denied the reports and stated that ARY News services were operating uninterrupted on cables, including PTCL, across Pakistan.
اے آر وائی نیوز کی نشریات ملک بھر کے کیبل بشمول پی ٹی سی ایل پر بلا تعطل جاری ہیں۔ اے آر وائی نیوز کی بندش کے حوالے سے نشر کی جانے والی خبریں سچائی پر مبنی نہیں ہیں۔
— Report PEMRA (@reportpemra) April 21, 2022
The alleged suspension was condemned by ARY journalist Kashif Abbasi and PTI member Shireen Mazari.
PTCL and other cable operators across pakistan block ARY transmission. What are u trying to stop people from watching? Did minister information order this?? Didn’t u say these are fascist tendencies?
yeh “kursi” bhi Bari Zalim cheez hai…
— Kashif Abbasi (@Kashifabbasiary) April 21, 2022
Shame on PTCL for blocking ARY News from its Cable. Do what u can Crime Minister & Wailing Info Min Maryam, both with trembling legs, but u will not silence nation’s voice. Silence of those journos who keep shouting about press & media freedom is deafening! #امپورٹڈ_حکومت_نامنظور
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) April 21, 2022
Others remarked that if the reports were indeed true, ARY News’ suspension was “condemnable” and “undemocratic”.
“If ARY News has really been blocked by any cable/TV carrier, it is a totally condemnable act,” said journalist and co-founder of Media Matters for Democracy, Sadaf Khan. “Silencing political opponents is non-democratic and a breach of constitutional rights. Hope the government investigates and upholds both human rights and democracies norms.”
If @ARYNEWSOFFICIAL has really been blocked by any cable / Tv carrier, it is a totally condemnable act. Silencing political opponents is non democratic & a breach of constitutional rights. Hope the government investigates & upholds both human rights & democracies norms.
— Sadaf Khan (@nuqsh) April 21, 2022
ARY News reported its suspension live, but the report published on its website is no longer available.