TV channels fined for airing news about Imran’s marriage


ISLAMABAD: The Council of Complaints (COC) of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Saturday imposed a fine of Rs500,000 each on several TV channels for airing incorrect news about the marriage of PTI chairman Imran Khan in July this year.

The COC Islamabad, headed by Shamim Humayum, held its final hearing in the case at the Pemra head office. She also announced that apart from the fine each channel should also air an apology.

The COC also recommended to Pemra that news channels that either do not air an apology or pay the fine should be penalised and their operating licence may be suspended.

The complaint against the news aired by the TV channels on July 12 was lodged by Iftikhar Durrani, the head of the PTI central media department.

Though the complainant had asked the COC that action be taken against Dunya News only, the request was not accepted on the grounds that it would be against the norms of justice.

“All those who aired the flawed news and expressed carelessness should be punished,” Ms Shamim announced.

The channels that have been fined include Dunya News, Geo News, Neo News, Royal News, Khyber News, Channel 24, Channel 92, News One, Such TV, Roze News,Channel 5 and Geo Tez.

The council also took up a complaint lodged by Maryam Nawaz Sharif against Channel 24. Ms Maryam said during a talk-show on June 10 the channel showed a picture, claiming she was presiding over a meeting of federal secretaries and running affairs of the government as the prime minister was in the UK for health reasons.

She claimed that the picture was around two years old when she was heading the PM’s youth programme.

Since no representative of Channel 24 appeared before the council, the channel was fined Rs500,000 and directed to air an apology.

The COC also imposed a fine of Rs200,000 on News One for airing a pre-recorded derogatory remarks passed by Senator Hafiz Hamidullah of JUI- F against Marvi Sirmand. However, none of the parties concerned came to defend themselves at the hearing.

The last hearing on Saturday was related to a complaint by Syed Khursheed Shah against Saama TV regarding a news item aired on June 27 claiming Mr Shah was involved in awarding contracts of certain projects in Sindh.

The complainant said the news was incorrect. But a representative of the channel defended the news and said all the contracts had been awarded under the influence of Mr Shah and even inaugurated by him.

After hearing both the sides, the COC adjourned the hearing till a report is finalised by the chief secretary of Sindh regarding misappropriations in the award of contracts.

The councils of complaints of Pemra comprise eminent individuals selected to hear complaints against any TV channel. Their decisions are implemented by Pemra. There are five COCs, one each in Islamabad and the provincial capitals.

The COC members are appointed by the Ministry of Information but they cannot be the officials of Pemra or any other government department. Each council is required to have at least two women members.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2016