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IHC Assures Journalists: No Court Reporting Ban Despite Pemra Restrictions

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) reassured journalists on Wednesday that court reporting was not banned, but rather the focus was on ensuring responsible reporting. This clarification arose during the hearing of petitions challenging the restrictions imposed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on broadcasting court proceedings on news channels.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq stated that there was no prohibition on reporting court proceedings; however, the emphasis was on responsible journalism. Justice Farooq specifically highlighted the issue of sensational tickers as problematic.

Pemra submitted its response during the hearing, while the court clarified that the matter primarily concerned Pemra, not the federal government.

Barrister Umer Ijaz Gilani, representing one of the petitioners, argued that Pemra’s regulations did not prohibit reporting on ongoing cases.

The court scheduled final arguments for the next hearing, adjourning it until June 11. Earlier, on May 24, the IHC had issued notices to Pemra and the secretary of information following petitions challenging Pemra’s notifications restricting television channels from airing news about court proceedings.

Pemra’s directives, issued on May 21, instructed TV channels not to broadcast any content that could prejudice ongoing court cases and to refrain from airing tickers or headlines regarding court proceedings until final orders were issued. Failure to comply could result in legal action, warned Pemra.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) had filed a petition against Pemra’s decision, urging the IHC to overturn the ban on reporting judicial proceedings.

Pemra’s directive was in line with the Supreme Court’s judgment in Suo Moto Case No. 28 of 2018, and all satellite TV channel licensees were instructed to strictly adhere to Pemra laws.

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