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EditorialAction against TV channels is undesirable

Action against TV channels is undesirable

This is a pity that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has pulled the regulatory trigger on ARY, one of the top news television channels in the country, citing some unnecessary reasons, while the government has initiated criminal proceedings against the channel’s three anchors and the owner. The action is in bad taste. This is the practice that PEMRA has continued under almost every government, only to bring a bad name to the authority. The sad events unfolded after the channel aired Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Shehbaz Gill’s message, which certain quarters deem ‘controversial’, but that too should have been overlooked. Now, the channel has been taken off air all over Pakistan. We have several instances when PEMRA took such action against channels, but the courts overturned its actions. The same would happen in this case too, but it makes a point that PEMRA keeps learning nothing. The ARY channel has been show-caused by PEMRA that it allowed a guest on one of their programmes to “malign the federal government”, with a speech that was “hateful, seditious, and malicious”. The government should come out of the censorship mentality. The government should keep in mind that we are living in a democratic era, and it should have the level of tolerance to tolerate dissenters instead of following the actions of dictators. Gone are the days when one can silence the media.

The recent incident also highlights the value of placing stricter editorial checks on guests, anchors and reporters in TV programmes. But any lapse in editorial control should be dealt with by the media houses themselves, instead of some external hands. The channel did not endorse Mr Gill’s remarks, and even if some quarters find some elements of controversies in his remarks, the law of the land provides a due course to tackle such issues, instead of arresting Mr Gill in a thrilling film scene manners and pulling the channel off air. Already, the media are already struggling financially and professionally, and the fresh actions may result in layoffs and more financial troubles for the media. Hopefully, sanity will prevail in PEMRA and government quarters.

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