The Lahore High Court (LHC) has suspended the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) order prohibiting TV channels from airing live or recorded speeches of former prime minister Imran Khan.
The authority imposed the ban on Khan’s speeches and press talks on Sunday following his address to his supporters in Lahore. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief accused the incumbent government of corruption and former army chief Gen (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa of providing legal cover to officials in corruption cases. PEMRA stated Khan was “spreading hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions and officers which is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disturb peace and tranquility”.
Subsequently, Khan filed a petition challenging the ban in the LHC. He referred to the suspension of a similar PEMRA order by the court in August 2022.
PEMRA bans content related to conduct of SC, high court judges
In a latest prohibition order issued on Thursday, PEMRA has prohibited TV channels from airing content related to the conduct of sitting high court and Supreme Court judges with immediate effect.
The electronic media regulator reiterated its earlier orders directing TV channels to refrain from airing live or recorded content against state institutions. PEMRA has issued several notifications over the past few months warning channels against airing what it calls “anti-state” material. They also included complete bans on the coverage of Khan, who has been banned twice from electronic media since August 2022 over “hate speech against institutions”.
The latest prohibition order states that despite repeated directives, satellite TV channels are “persistently discussing conduct of honorable judges of superior courts and orchestrating vilification campaign through airing slanderous allegations”.
PEMRA says airing content pertaining to the conduct of high court and Supreme Court judges constitutes violation of PEMRA Ordinance, 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act, 2007; PEMRA Rules 2009; PEMRA (Television Broadcast Station Operations) Regulations 2012; and Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisement) Code of Conduct 2015.
“All satellite TV channels licensees are also directed to ensure an effective time delay mechanism be put in place and and impartial and independent editorial board be constituted as required under Clause 17 of Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisement) Code of Conduct 2015.
In case of violation, PEMRA will suspend the channel’s licence under Section 30 of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007.