The licence of Geo News, Pakistan’s leading television channel, was on Friday suspended for 15 days and fined Rs 10 million by the media regulatory authority for defaming the army and the powerful ISI.
The decision was announced by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) after a meeting chaired by its chief Parvez Rathore.
“The Authority, after thread-bare discussion while considering all the relevant provisions of PEMRA laws, took a strong notice of violations committed by Geo News and unanimously decided to immediately suspend the license of the said channel for a period of 15 days besides imposing a fine of Rs 10 million, to be paid before the expiry of the suspension period,” it said in a statement.
“In case of non-payment of fine, the suspension of the license shall continue. The authority further decided that in case of repeated violation by the said licensee, proceedings for the revocation of the license shall be initiated,” it further said.
ll field offices of PEMRA have been directed to implement the decision in letter and spirit with immediate effect.
The meeting was held to address a complaint filed by Ministry of Defence against Geo News for naming Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and its chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam for attack on leading journalist Hamid Mir, who was seriously injured in a gun attack in April.
The Defence ministry had demanded that the licence of Geo News be suspended after it reported that the ISI was behind the attack on Mir in Karachi.
Geo TV network and Jang Group, which owns the channel, on May 26 had tendered apology to Pakistan’s armed forces and the ISI for hurling allegations on its chief over the assassination attempt on Mir.
The controversy erupted after Mir’s brother accused “certain elements” in the ISI and its chief of orchestrating the attack, a charge denied by the military.
The Jang Group had also said: “We also want to bring it on the record that the ISI has been continuously and strongly complaining to our senior editors against some of our senior journalists, particularly against Hamid Mir. We will prove this and many other things at the proper time.”
The Jang Group later clarified that the allegations were not hurled by the institution but by Mir himself and later repeated by his brother soon after the attack.