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Pakistan's Government Places New Curbs on Media

Pakistani journalists are accusing the government of trying to restrict election coverage, after authorities barred them from airing live broadcasts.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has warned satellite television networks against airing live coverage, including telephone calls, that could incite violence.

Broadcasters who violate the regulation face up to three years in prison and a fine of $164,000.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Wednesday called the warning a government attempt to silence the free media.

President Pervez Musharraf has imposed curbs on the media since imposing emergency rule on November 3.

Newspapers and television channels are barred from showing pictures of suicide bombers and their victims. The order also outlaws any material that defames government officials.

Many Pakistani television stations were shut down and had to sign a government code of conduct to return to the air.

Separately Wednesday, former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif continued campaigning across Pakistan for the January 8 parliamentary elections.

Ms. Bhutto, who heads the Pakistan People's Party, addressed hundreds of supporters in the northwest tribal region. Mr. Sharif campaigned for his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party in the northeastern Punjab province.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.