I faced pressure but didn’t shut TV channels, says Pemra chief

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Chairman, Absar Alam on Friday said since the regulatory body could not play its due role since its inception, TV channels became totally free to air whatever they wanted to.

Talking informally to media persons here on the occasion of lunch, he hosted for them, Absar Alam conceded to having faced pressure to ban certain TV channels but he did not, resisting the pressure. “We are keen to see a responsible electronic media in Pakistan and are working to achieve this objective,” he said.

He said that Pemra was not in favour of imposing too much restrictions on electronic media but wanted them to report with responsibility and follow the rules and code of conduct. He explained how in print media in case of misreporting, a newspaper prints corrigendum or apology next day. “Today, what we see is that an anchorperson says something and it is denied, he does not have moral courage to apologise on that next evening on the channel,” he pointed out.

He also noted that many TV anchors had parachuted, having no journalistic experience and this was also one of the reasons of problems with regard to electronic media, as he received so many complaints on daily basis about content. The Pemra chairman explained that due to undue criticism on television channels regarding Parliament, confusion was being created and noted that according to a study, persons between the age of 15 and 30 years were confused about the state institutions and the system. He said that people’s trust in the media is fading which needs to be corrected.

He emphasised that instead of playing with sanctity of the state institutions, we should try to bring about improvement in our system. Absar Alam asserted he was least bothered about threats hurled by certain anchorpersons and their blackmailing tactics. He said some big anchors were issued warnings time and again, but when complaints continued to pour in their programmes were shut with due process.

He pointed out that when anchors would purchase planes, build large houses and own big cars, they would face questions and criticism. The Pemra chairman said fines over violations of Pemra rules and conduct were being increased to ensure compliance. He said that verbal abuse could not be allowed to be hurled during talk shows or reporting.

The News

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