ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Wednesday asked Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Ch. Nisar Ali Khan to bring the issue of defaulter TV channels to the PAC.“I request the PAC Chairman, who summons representatives of different public institutions in the committee and conducts hearing and help recover the payable amount from them,to summon all those TV channels which are defaulters.”Speaking in the National Assembly regarding closure of a private TV channel’s transmission, she suggested that a committee of the parliament should be constituted to look into the matter.The Minister said that she had already presented the government stance in the House that it believed in freedom of expression, neither it had banned any channel in past nor it had intention to do so in future.
Clarifying the closure of a private TV channel by the Pakistan Electronic Medai Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), she said that those,who were preaching others to uphold the Constitution, should also follow it, adding that the particular TV channel had violated the law and code of conduct.Responding to the concern shown by Ch Nisar Ali Khan, the Information Minister said that the parliament had empowered the PEMRA to ban the transmission of a channel for violation of its rules and regulations.She said that Geo Super did not have the permission to uplink any programme rather it had only landing rights from Pakistan. The PEMRA had received an application from Geo Super for temporary uplink permission for Cricket World Cup matches, which asked the channel for required technical details of the programmes.In the meantime, she added that the Geo Group started transmitting Indian IPL cricket matches on its ‘Aag’ channel in violation of the code of conduct and contents as the channel was granted a licence for entertainment and not for sports events.She said that the PEMRA summoned the representatives of channel for personal hearing but they did not give any statement. Since it was a violation of the terms and conditions of the licence, therefore, the transmission of Aag channel was debarred from the cable network, she added.The Minister informed that the transmission of Geo Super was closed down by the group on its own as its signals were intact.The Minister said a parliamentary committee should be formed to look into the matter and determine the real facts.
She said that the particular media group wanted to form a state within a state by, what she called, blackmailing and pressurizng the government. But the government would not surrender before it as it was fighting to uphold the national interest, she said.She said that an impression was being given that the government could not face the ‘truth’. “We have always welcomed criticism”,she said, adding that 67 channels were operating in Pakistan, which had no issue. Only a single TV channel had problems, she said. The Minister said that the media was passing through an evolutionary process and the government would support it to dispel the impression of a terrorist and extremist society.She said since the case of closure of the channel was in the court, therefore she could not resolve the matter in her personal capacity.She, however, offered to play a mediatory role between the channel and the PEMRA for the resolution of issue.The Minister said that the government believed in the supremacy of the Constitution and law and would not allow anyone to violate the rules and regulations.“We are fighting to uphold the national interest. The government will continue the struggle for freedom of expression. – APP