News / Asia

Rights Groups Condemn Pakistan's Geo News Suspension

FILE - Employees of Pakistan's biggest television station Geo TV attend a protest against the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority after the station's license was suspended, in Karachi, May 22, 2014.
FILE - Employees of Pakistan's biggest television station Geo TV attend a protest against the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority after the station's license was suspended, in Karachi, May 22, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
Rights groups are condemning the move by Pakistan's media regulator to suspend Geo News, the country's largest news channel, due to a dispute involving the nation's powerful spy agency.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders all said the decision undermines press freedoms in Pakistan.

On Friday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said it was immediately suspending Geo's license for 15 days and fining the company $100,000 for committing "violations."

The organization says all field officers have been instructed to ensure implementation of its orders.

PEMRA said if GEO repeats its "violations," it could face proceedings to revoke its broadcasting license.

The suspension orders were issued in response to a formal petition by the Pakistani defense ministry to cancel the channel’s broadcasting rights for what it alleged a “false and scandalous campaign against the ISI and its officers”.

GEO off air

GEO News channel’s transmission went off the air shortly after the official announcement.

The suspension is the latest challenge for GEO News following an assassination attempt in April against its news anchor, Hamid Mir, the most popular political talk show host in Pakistan.

Mir is said to have survived six gunshot wounds to the stomach and legs during the attack in the southern port city of Karachi.

Shortly after the attack, GEO News repeatedly aired accusations by Mir and his family members that the chief of the country’s military spy agency, ISI, planned the attack.

In a recent interview with VOA, the news anchor, Hamid Mir, defended GEO’s coverage of the attack on him.  
 
“I informed my management not once but more than once in advance that the elements of one intelligence agency are after my life. I gave them the names in writing and that is why they [GEO News] mentioned the names,” he said.
 
The broadcaster came under fire from media critics for overstepping journalistic norms and ethics, but they have strongly opposed attempts to shut down Geo News.

Local and foreign advocates of press freedom insist the Pakistani intelligence agency is free to rebut allegations against it but should not censor media coverage.

Abid Suleri, a social analyst and the executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute, says “one can say that perhaps any channel while reporting may not be observing some standard operating procedures and might have overstepped their limit, or they might have not followed the journalistic professional ethics."
 
"But it does not mean that we start shutting down the channels," he added. "So, perhaps we should resist any attempt to shut down any major or minor channel."

A senior official with the Committee to Protect Journalists, Bob Dietz, told VOA's Deewa Radio the suspension seems to be an overreaction by the government.

He said the government is taking out a "vendetta" against the broadcaster for the way it handled the Mir shooting.

“This seems to me to be really punitive and an overreaction on the government’s part," he said. "What we’ve seen is that there’s been a real vendetta taken out against the GEO for the way it handled the attack on Hamid Mir and this is the official extension of all those other activities that we’ve seen in Pakistan over the last month or two.  It’s not a good indicator of who’s controlling the media in Pakistan.”

The military denies allegations that the ISI had anything to do with the assassination attempt on Mir. There have been accusations against the spy agency that it was behind some of the attacks on journalists in Pakistan.  

Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the private Pakistani broadcaster says it is suing the intelligence agency together with two other state-affiliated institutions for “maligning” GEO and accusing it of have an “anti-Pakistan” agenda.

In its legal notice sent to the ISI, the broadcaster said the three government agencies made "baseless allegations" that have resulted in the broadcasters' staff members being "attacked and tortured across Pakistan."

Geo has demanded a public apology within two weeks and $500 million in damages. It alleges that thousands of its workers “are not only being harassed but also attacked and tortured across Pakistan.”

Some information for this report comes from AP, and AFP.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs