Sindh HC orders Pak media regulatory authority to restore ARY News transmission immediately

Karachi [Pakistan], August 23 (ANI): The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and cable operators to immediately restore the transmission of ARY News, local media reported.

A single-judge bench headed by Justice Aqeel Abbasi heard the plea and issued directives to PEMRA and cable operators to immediately restore the ARY News transmission.

The court also directed the media regulatory authority to take action against cable operators, who defy the Sindh High Court’s decision, ARY News reported.

During the hearing, Justice Aqeel Abbasi said that PEMRA should take action as per rules and court orders. “The PEMRA should utilize its broad powers to implement the court’s decision,” the judge said, asking how can a cable operator defy PEMRA’s instructions.

Meanwhile, PEMRA counsel urged the SHC to suspend the contempt notice against the authority’s Chairman. “At least, he should be exempted from his attendance tomorrow”, the counsel said.

To which, the channel’s lawyer Ayyan Memon noted that the contempt petition against the Chairman of PEMRA will be withdrawn when he implements the SHC decision, ARY News reported.

Meanwhile, countrywide Black Day was observed on Tuesday on the call of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) against the suspension of ARY News transmission.

Journalists across Pakistan observed Black Day and black flags were hoisted at press clubs to lodge protests against the suspension of the Pakistan TV channel.

The PFUJ official said the suspension of ARY News transmission is ‘illegal’ and should be restored immediately as per Sindh High Court’s orders.

Thousands of media workers are associated with ARY News, the suspension will ultimately create financial problems for them, PFUJ President Afzal Butt said.

Afzal Butt on Monday said that protests will also be held across the country, PEMRA chairman said that they have not taken down transmission of ARY News, the cable operators will be present in the court on August 24, let’s see whether PEMRA asks the cable operators to restore the channel before the court or not.

He said that after August 24, we will take a solidarity march and go to the Karachi office of ARY News.

Notably, the Sindh High Court on August 17 ordered PEMRA chairman Saleem Baig to appear before the court along with cable operators if he fails to restore ARY News transmission on cable by August 24.

The orders were passed by the SHC bench while hearing a contempt of court plea against the PEMRA chairman and cable operators over the failure to restore the transmission of ARY News.

Barrister Abid Zubairi, the counsel of ARY News, in his arguments before the court, said PEMRA is responsible for handling cable operators as per article 20 of the PEMRA Ordinance, ARY News reported.

The SHC while issuing notices to the PEMRA chairman and more than 200 cable operators, directed to restore the broadcast of ARY News on the earlier numbers it was on air before the suspension.

The SHC had also directed the PEMRA chairman to appear before it if the transmission of ARY News remains suspended and adjourned the hearing until August 24.

The Sindh High Court (SHC) had earlier issued the written order regarding the restoration of the ARY News transmission and sought a compliance report from the parties within two days.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Ministry of Interior cancelled the NOC of ARY News without serving any notice.

The notification issued, dated August 11 to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) reads: “The NOC issued in favour of M/S ARY Communications Private (Ltd). is cancelled with immediate effect and until further orders on the basis of adverse reports from agencies.”Earlier, on August 10, the Sindh High Court directed Pemra and cable operators to immediately restore the transmission of ARY News, which had been suspended on orders of the government.

In the 10-page order, the Sindh High Court suspended the show-cause notice issued to ARY News by PEMRA. The court also stopped the media regulatory authority from suspending the license of TV channels till the next hearing, reported ARY News.

Prior to the issuance of the notice, ARY News went off the air in many parts of the country.

ARY News’ transmission was suspended in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, and other cities.

The entire episode was perpetuated due to a news piece aired by the channel on how the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has reportedly activated its strategic media cell to malign Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman and the country’s former prime minister Imran Khan.

The PEMRA issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing what it called “false, hateful and seditious content.”The court also issued notice to PEMRA and the deputy attorney general and adjourned the hearing until August 17, ARY News reported.

Soon it was revealed that PEMRA had ordered the suspension over a statement given by a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shehbaz Gill among other reasons, the ARY News distanced itself from Gill’s statement and issued a statement on the matter.

Gill was arrested for “making statements against the state institutions and inciting the people to rebellion,” according to the police.

The Human Rights Commission in Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly opposed the disruptions to ARY News and asked the country’s regulatory authorities not to take channels off the air arbitrarily. (ANI)

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