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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pemra issues show-cause notice to ARY for disseminating “false news”

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing “fake/unverified news” about the views of Asad Majeed, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, on the ‘Cablegate’ controversy, based on informal sources.

The cable in question is a statement sent by Majeed, which former Prime Minister Imran Khan has alleged contained evidence of a plot to overthrow his government. The National Security Committee (NSC) had a meeting on the cable yesterday — the second time in as many months that the NSC met to discuss the cable’s contents — during which the former US ambassador was also present and testified.

The channel aired the news, regarding the ambassador’s attitude in the meeting, at 6:52 pm on Friday, according to the show-cause notice.

According to the comments quoted in the notice, Majeed maintained in the NSC meeting that the cable’s contents amounted to interference in internal affairs, that it was a “reality” that threatening language had been used in the cable and that the ambassador remained steadfast on his stance despite government pressure, according to ARY News, citing sources.

The airing of “fake/unverified news” referencing informal sources without taking Majeed’s perspective appeared to be an “intentional action on the part of ARY News and intended to discredit state institutions,” according to Pemra.

Furthermore, this act violates established journalistic standards because, despite the NSC issuing an official statement, ARY News is relying on unofficial sources with the goal of misleading viewers, according to the notification.

It went on to say that the broadcasting of bogus news and unconfirmed content generated severe issues about the channel’s editorial board’s performance and the gatekeeping methods used.

Airing of such fake /unverified news [is] tantamount to sheer violation of Section 20(f) of Pemra Ordinance 2002 as amended [by] Pemra (Amendment) Act, 2007 read with Clause 3(1)(i,k), 4(1), 4(2), 4(4), 4(7), 4(10), 5, 17 and 24 of Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct 2015, as well as orders of the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in suo moto case No. 28 of 2018, duly communicated to the channel on various occasions,” the notice said.

It ordered ARY Communications Ltd’s chief executive officer to show cause in writing within seven days as to why legal action — including a fine, suspension, and revocation of licence — should not be taken under Section 29, 30 and other enabling provisions of the Pemra Ordinance 2002.

It further ordered the CEO to attend in person or through an authorised representative at Pemra’s Islamabad headquarters on April 29 at 11:30 a.m., along with the written response, for a personal hearing.

“In the event of non-compliance, ex-parte legal action against the licensee will be taken in accordance with relevant Pemra Laws,” the warning stated.

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