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Pakistan's Geo Network Suspended, Still on Air

  • VOA News

Policeman walks past graffiti directed at local media house Geo TV, Karachi, May 20, 2014.

Policeman walks past graffiti directed at local media house Geo TV, Karachi, May 20, 2014.

A private Pakistan television network accused by the country's Defense Ministry of broadcasting "false" and "scandalous" reports has been suspended.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, or PEMRA, announced Tuesday that it has suspended three of Geo Television's channels — Geo News, Geo Tez and Geo Entertainment. A final decision on permanently canceling Geo's licenses is set to be made during a PEMRA meeting on May 28.

The network was given until midnight Pakistan time (19:00 UTC) to take its transmission off the air. Geo had not said whether it would comply with the decision.

The move comes nearly a month after the Defense Ministry called on PEMRA to cancel the network's license, accusing GEO's parent company (Independent Media Corporation) of launching a "vicious campaign" that includes linking the country's intelligence agency with "terrorist outfits and activities."

Geo has aired reports accusing the agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence — or ISI — of being behind an assassination attempt on Geo anchor Hamid Mir.

Mir was shot and wounded by assailants on motorcycles April 19 while he traveled by car in Karachi. No one has claimed responsibility for the shooting. It was not the first attempt against the journalist. Last year a bomb was found attached to Mir's car.

Earlier on Tuesday, PEMRA official Israr Abbasi told reporters that the regulatory authority has the right to seal off Geo's main office.

PEMRA consists of private members and government representatives, but no government official was at Tuesday's meeting.

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