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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

PEMRA’s Dictatorial Order: PTI Leaders Regard it As Illogical & Unnecessary

Leaders of the PTI-led government and journalists are calling out the new PEMRA regulations for suppressing opinions and being dictatorial. The question asked is "who is controlling PEMRA?"

Leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government expressed their thoughts over the new PEMRA notification, which banned TV anchors and talk show hosts from appearing on other talks shows and expressing their opinions.

Asad Umar, former Finance Minister, was joined by Shireen Mazari, the Federal Minister for Human Rights and Fawad Chaudhry, the Federal Minister for Science & Technology in expressing concern over the decision taken by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) decision, urging the media watchdog to focus on taking better initiatives.

Suppressing Opinions 

Taking to Twitter, Asad Umar mockingly said, “Amazing decision by PEMRA to stop anchors to go on any other talk show and express their opinion!”

The PTI leader added, “PEMRA should be doing a better job taking action against completely fake news and not suppressing the right of individuals, including anchors, to express their opinion.”

Shireen Mazari, the Minister for Human Rights, put forward an interesting question. Taking to Twitter, Mazari said, “Who is an “expert”? An interesting though unintended debate has been generated – so purely at an academic non-political level: Do I need a degree in politics to be an expert on politics? I have no degree in “human rights” so should I go on TV to discuss “human rights” issues?”

Mazari continued, “Do I need a degree in IR/Strategic Studies to discuss foreign/defence policy? What degree do I need to talk about Information? Is expertise defined by a degree? Finally, we have a debate at an abstract level media should focus on! But what “experts” would be needed for such a debate on TV?”

Agreeing with the arguments put forward by Shireen Mazari, Fawad Chaudhry, the Federal Minister for Science & Technology said that the “PEMRA notification to ban anchors to appear on other shows is uncalled for, illogical and unnecessary.”

PEMRA, on Sunday, issued a notification banning regular anchors and TV talk show hosts from appearing in other talk shows and giving their opinions. The media watchdog has also issued a warning against analysts indulging in “inappropriate and biased analyses and negative propaganda”.

As per the PEMRA notification, the regulations state that anchors must take responsibility to host their shows in an impartial and objective manner, without dictating a verdict on any given issue.

Read more: Journalists denounce media censorship, ministry dismisses allegations

As per the new regulators, TV anchors and talk show hosts are not allowed to offer their expertise or analysis in any other TV show. The owners of media platforms and TV channels have been directed to disallow any analyst or expert from using their channels and broadcasting platforms to spread disinformation, speculations and alter information in a manner that would misguide the masses.

The notification stated that the guests and participating commentators of talk shows must be carefully selected, and only those can be invited to give their opinion who are extensively experienced, boost a fine reputation, and provide an unbiased opinion, stemming from their knowledge and expertise on the matter.

Prominent journalists and talk show hosts have called out the PEMRA notification to be dictatorial and a measure to curb the freedom of speech enjoyed by analysts and anchors across the country.

Defending the PEMRA notification, Special Assistant to the PM on Information and Broadcasting, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said, “No anchor has been stopped to express. They have their exclusive shows to discuss anything and everything.”

Read more: Govt. to ban media coverage for convicts, Denies influencing PEMRA

Awan added, “The advisory has been a reiteration of existing code of conduct on court orders which needs to be taken care of to avoid conjecturing.”