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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid