August 11, 2016
ISLAMABAD – Electronic media’s watchdog PEMRA Thursday attempted to explain why a 45-day ban had been slapped on prominent ARY News analyst Dr. Shahid Masood after its decision was termed politically motived and widely criticized as harsh.
“Shahid Masood….had cast aspersions on the superior judiciary in his program on June 22, 2016, accusing Chief Justice of the Honorable Sindh High Court, without any proof, for taking money from someone,” a PEMRA press release said.
The popular analyst who appears in the program Live with Dr Shahid Masood, earlier in the day expressed surprise over PEMRA’s decision that comes into effect from August 15.
“What anyone could do if the government misconstrued my statement in the program,” he was quoted by ARY News as saying. He said the government must tell what actually was objectionable in the program that stirred up a hornet’s nest.”
Last year in November the Nawaz Sharif government appointed Absar Alam, a journalist quite close to him, as the Chairman of PEMRA. In this light, many people see the decision to punish Dr. Masood as a ‘targeted’ action.
Explaining its decision further in the release, PEMRA said in his program, he also alluded that the son of the Chief Justice was kidnapped because the Chief Justice did not fulfill his promise after receiving money.
The release added that according to Dr. Masood’s allegations, the deal between the Chief Justice and the alleged bribers was struck in a Gulf state and the CJ’s son was kidnapped by the bribers when the CJ did not deliver.
PEMRA termed the allegations as baseless against ‘an honest judge’ and said they were not only painful for the entire family but were also malicious and contemptuous.
The Pakistan Army recovered CJ’s son later in a successful operation against terrorists near the Afghan border “which proved the shallowness of these allegations.”
PEMRA said it served a show-cause notice on ARY News on July 19 giving them seven days to respond. However, their reply was “unprofessional” and “no apology was tendered.”
The release pointed out that despite this, a second opportunity was given and to ensure fair treatment the case was referred to the Council of Complaints, an independent body. The channel was asked to explain its position on August 4.
However, on the day of the hearing, the channel sought an adjournment, which was duly granted. PEMRA added that on the third hearing on August 10, the channel’s representative could not satisfy the Council and did not extend an apology and hence the decision to ban the program.
PEMRA pointed out that a five-day period had been given to ARY before the ban comes into effect so that they could go to the High Court or the Supreme Court if they so wanted.
PEMRA clarified the ban on Dr. Masood was applicable only on ARY News.
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