Updates on Geo TV’s License Suspension

Geo-News-tv-LogoThe Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Friday suspended the country’s leading channel Geo TV’s license for 15 days and imposed a 10 million fine on a complaint filed by the ministry of defense for blaming Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The 96th Authority Meeting of PEMRA was held on June 6 at PEMRA Headquarters in Islamabad. The meeting was convened by the newly appointed PEMRA Chairman Muhammad Parvez Rathore under Rule 3(4) of PEMRA Rules 2009.

Besides other agenda items, the complaint filed by the Ministry of Defense against GEO News was deliberated upon in light of the legal opinion of the Ministry of Law.

The Authority took a strong notice of violations committed by GEO News and unanimously decided to immediately suspend the channels’ license for a period of 15 days in addition to imposing a fine of Rs. 10 million, to be paid before the expiry of the suspension period. The Authority further decided that in case of repeated violation by the said licensee, proceedings for the revocation of the license shall be initiated.

All field offices of PEMRA have been directed to implement the decision of the Authority in letter and spirit with immediate effect.

Earlier on May 20, PEMRA’s private members had announced their decision to suspend the licenses of Geo News, Geo Entertainment and Geo Tez until May 28. Hours after the announcement, however, the decision was disowned by the PERMRA spokesperson.

In an unprecedented move, Geo News, part of the privately owned Jang Group, is suing the powerful spy agency for defamation over accusations of being anti-state, it said on Friday.

It has also given the ISI 14 days to issue a public apology.

“Geo and Jang Group (have) served a legal notice on the Ministry of Defense, Inter-Services Intelligence and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority for defaming and maligning the group,” the channel said in a report published in a newspaper owned by the media house.

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“More than 8,000 journalists, workers and professionals attached to the group and their families are not only being harassed but also attacked and tortured across Pakistan.”

In April, the defense ministry had demanded that the license of Geo News be suspended after it reported that the ISI was behind the shooting of one of senior journalist Hamid Mir.

Since the dispute began, Geo News has been taken off the air in several parts of the country or been moved to obscure slots on the channel lineup by the cable operators, allegedly under pressure from the military, according to the lawsuit.

Distribution of the parent group’s newspapers has also been disrupted.

Tayyab Baloch is an Islamabad-based multimedia journalist. He tweets at @blochjournalist. Read other articles by Tayyab.