‘Tighten the editorial supervision,’ PEMRA informs TV channels over NAB reporting

'Tighten the editorial supervision,' PEMRA informs TV channels over NAB reporting
Journalists work in a Pakistani newsroom. The News/Files

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani TV networks have been ordered to “tighten their editorial supervision” by the state’s media watchdog in light of reporting of the anti-graft watchdog and its case proceedings.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) instructed TV channels to abstain from airing what it said was “highly uncorroborated, disparaging, and unipolar statements” about the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The media watchdog said it had “scrutinized with concerns” the statements about the anti-graft regulator being aired on Pakistani talk shows and news programmes via “Satellite TV licensees”.

‘Intent to defame the state institution’

It also indicted TV channels of having an “intent to defame the state institute” — the NAB — and noted that airing such statements was against the instructions issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

“Airing of such unsupported and unipolar remarks are in utter contempt to […] the instructions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan passed in SOU MOTO CASE NO. 28 OF 2018 dated 12.09.2020 concerning the ban of debate on sub-judice and under trail cases,” it wrote.

“Broadcasting of such content is also in breach of Section-20 (d) & (f) of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as revised by PEMRA (Amendment) Act-2007, Rule 15(10 of PEMRA Rules 2009 and Clause 3(10(i). 4(2), 4(4), 14(7) (a,&c), 4(10), 5, 17 & 22 of Electronic Media (Programmes & Advertisements) Code of Conduct-2015.”

‘Observe rational restrictions’

The PEMRA also conveyed fury at the TV channels for running the statements even with its “advice, warnings, notices, and […] training conferences with the media persons/reporters.”

Pakistani channels must “abstain from voicing personal prejudices/opinion in any news story or talk show and moderate the programmes in a fair, stable, objective, and neutral manner”, it repeated, adding that issues under examination or trial should only be broadcasted without “observation, opinion [and] suggestions”.

“The tenants are also compelled through these provisions of law to adhere to sufficient constraints while confiscating contents from court proceedings, police records and court trials and to air them fairly, precisely and in an unbiased manner,” it stated.