Home Latest News PEMRA Bans Broadcast of ‘Hate Mongers, Facilitators’ for ‘National Harmony’

PEMRA Bans Broadcast of ‘Hate Mongers, Facilitators’ for ‘National Harmony’

Regulatory watchdog reiterates need to implement time-delay mechanism for live programs to screen out political outfits ‘polluting’ minds of public

by Staff Report

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Wednesday directed all TV channel licensees to completely “screen out” from media “hate mongers, rioters, their facilitators and perpetrators” to promote “coherence and national harmony.”

While the circular issued by the watchdog did not single out any party or individual, its aim appears to be to push the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) off TV screens following the May 9 riots triggered by the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan, which saw his supporters attacking state properties, including the Lahore Corps’ Commander’s house and the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Stressing that Article 19 of the Constitution granted freedom of speech and press, “subject to any reasonable restrictions,” PEMRA stressed that “in Pakistan, like many other countries, speech that incites violence, promotes hatred, or poses threat to public order and security can be restricted or prohibited.” In this regard, it said, a “balance” must be achieved between protecting freedom of speech and maintaining public order. “Restrictions on speech during riots or situations of unrest are often aimed at preventing the escalation of violence and safeguarding the safety and well-being of the general public,” it added.

Referring specifically to the May 9 riots, the circular said all “anti-state activities” of the “black day” were orchestrated by “the politically charged-up zealots of political party behaving largely as hate mongers to instigate stock political activists as well.” Alleging this was done with the ulterior motives to damage the state and its institutions, it said it was a “fact” that such hate mongers representing political outfits were abusing power against Pakistan and state institutions by “polluting innocent minds of public.”

Stressing that this “horrific trend” must be condemned, PEMRA said all those involved in promoting such activities “must be boycotted on media for damaging peace and tranquility.” Directing TV channels to remain “vigilant” and not promote any such elements, it evoked the electronic media code of conduct and relevant court orders to state air time should not be given to individuals who propagate hate speech or provoke public sentiments against the federation and state institutions. Noting that airing such content violated sections of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002, it reiterated that all TV channels should sensitized their editorial boards to “strictly ensure compliance of PEMRA laws as well as principles laid down by the superior courts.”

In this regard, it said, a time-delay mechanism must be utilized for live programs and “impartial and independent” editorial boards constituted to ensure no “hate mongers, rioters, their facilitators and perpetrators” had access to media to ensure “coherence and national harmony.”

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