Geo TV’s licenses have been suspended by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) effective immediately, reports Dawn. The website also reports that members of the committee ordered the television network’s offices to be shut down and the three television stations to be taken off the air immediately.
Geo TV licenses suspended until next week
PEMRA told the media in Pakistan that the broadcasting licenses held by Geo News, Geo Entertainment and Geo Tez have been suspended until May 28. Officials said that at that point, they will make a final decision about what will happen to the television stations.
The PEMRA committee which suspended GEO TV’s licenses was formed to review a formal complaint against Geo that was filed by the Ministry of Defense. All members of the committee voted unanimously to cancel Geo News’ license. Officials said because of some formality, they have forwarded their recommendation to the Council of Complaints with a request for a response no later than May 28, which is when the committee is next scheduled to meet.
Geo TV makes allegations against Pakistani spy agency
Reports from Pakistani news outlets say that last month, Hamid Mir, Pakistan’s top news anchor, said a number of officials had threatened him. He stated that non-state and state representatives, including Pakistani spy intelligence agency ISI, had threatened him. Mir recently had a brush with death when someone tried to assassinate him.
After Mir’s attack, Jang Group, the owner of Geo TV, reiterated the news anchor’s comments, saying that it wanted 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.” Jang also said it would “prove this and many other things at the proper time.”
PEMRA’s authority questioned
Z News reports that there are questions about whether the PEMRA committee has the authority to carry out the suspension of Geo TV’s licenses. PTV, a station run by the Pakistani government, reported that a spokesman for PEMRA said they didn’t hold a meeting today and that the meeting in question was “illegal.” Reports suggest that there were only private members of the committee present at the meeting and that no government officials attended.
Dawn reports that a PEMRA spokesperson said today’s meeting violated rules instituted in 2009. The agency requires that at least half of its total membership must request a meeting. One of the private members who reportedly attended the committee meeting today said a third of the members were present at the meeting, which he claimed was enough for a quorum on the vote about Geo’s TV licenses.
There have been reports that the popular KPK leader Imran Khan was against Geo TV. Dawn reports that Twitter is also ablaze with comments on both sides of the issue, as some say Geo TV should have its licenses suspended and others saying it’s uncalled for.