Pakistan: Regulatory body suspends Geo News television channel

7th Jun 2014
Pakistan: Regulatory body suspends Geo News television channel




Pakistan’s media regulation authority has forced the country’s leading news channel off the air. This came as the result of a row between Geo News and Pakistan’s spy agency. 

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said in a statement released on Friday that it had suspended the operating license of Geo News for a period of 15 days and imposed a fine of 10 million rupees ($100,000) after taking “a strong notice of violations committed” by the broadcaster. “In case of non-payment of fine, the suspension of the license shall continue,” it added.

Geo News reportedly remained on the air for a few hours after its license had been revoked, reporting on the news of its own suspension, before the signal was cut.

After that, viewers saw a blank screen with the message: “The license of Geo News has been suspended by PEMRA, therefore the broadcast of the said channel has been terminated.”

Accusations related to attack on presenter

The move comes two months after  the army called on PEMRA to ban the channel, after it accused the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of being behind an attack on one of its presenters.

Hamid Mir (pictured above) was shot multiple times in Karachi back in April, but survived the attack. This came after the television program that he presents gave prominent coverage to a group campaigning against the disappearances and torture of insurgents and their supporters – allegedly by the ISI – in southwestern Baluchistan province.

Hamid’s family has accused the head of the ISI, General Zaheer Ul-Islam, of attempted murder in connection with the shooting. His brother, Amir Mir, has said that Hamid had told him prior to the attack that he felt under threat and that if anything happened to him, the head if the ISI “would be responsible.”

Friday’s decision comes despite that fact that the media group that operates Geo News apologized last month for allegations made against the ISI.

pfd/hc (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)

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