The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) cautioned private electronic media on Monday not to run information critical of the country’s military forces and courts.
“It has been noted that a few satellite TV stations are airing programming that amounts to casting aspersions on state institutions, namely the military forces and the courts,” the regulatory authority stated in guidelines posted on its Twitter account.
“Airing such content violates Pemra guidelines, sections of the Pemra Electronic Media (Programs and Advertisement) Code of Conduct 2015, and superior court principles,” it continued.
According to the statement, freedom of speech and expression are fundamental rights that are subject to “reasonable restrictions” imposed by the law in the interests of Islam, the integrity, security, or defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency, or morality, or in relation to contempt of court or incitement to an offence.
According to the applicable Pemra statutes and regulations, each firm given a licence by the authority must follow its programme and advertisement guidelines and form an in-house monitoring committee to assure compliance.
“Moreover, all satellite TV channels are directed to put in place an effective time-delay mechanism and to form an impartial and independent editorial board… in order to ensure that their platform is not used by anyone for uttering contemptuous remarks in any manner whatsoever against any state institutions,” the media watchdog said.
It cautioned that any “violation” would cause a legal action under the relevant legislation.
Earlier in the day, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb stated during question hour in the National Assembly that Pemra has built an effective method to verify the code of conduct on TV and radio broadcasts.
She stated that all Pemra licensees are required to follow Pemra laws in text and spirit. She stated that a complaints council has been created at each regional headquarters to address public concerns regarding any part of material shown on private electronic media.
The information minister also stated that Pemra field teams perform surprise visits around the nation to establish infractions committed by cable TV companies.
Pemra has also established criteria for plays, morning shows, and Ramazan broadcasts.