SC asks TV channels to act responsibly

WEB DESK: Supreme Court Chief Justice Anwer Zaheer Jamali on Tuesday observed that some television channels are working against sectarian harmony and making monetary deals to carry out ‘planted’ programmes.

Heading a three-member bench comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the CJP made these observations while hearing a constitutional petition filed by Jamaat-e-Islami against obscene and other objectionable material carried by broadcast media.

“The rates are fixed with TV channels if you want to do a programme against someone, and then do whatever you like to tarnish his image through media,” the CJP remarked. In an obvious reference to former military ruler General Ziaul Haq’s regime, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said a woman newscaster would face removal from job if she appears before screen without covering her head.

Justice Saeed further remarked that TV talk shows are characterised by loose talks, adding the media has the right to criticise but it must not cross the “red line”. “We don’t want complete silence that may harm the freedom of speech, but loose talks on television talk shows should be avoided,” he added.

The counsel for PEMRA had nothing plausible to say when the bench asked him about the issues. He said that whenever the regulatory body notices something objectionable, it issues a notice to the concerned TV channel.

This prompted Justice Jamali to say that rules must be applied on those who violate the code of conduct set by the authority, adding “if exemplary punishment is given, things will be alright.” The court adjourned the hearing of case for one month with directives to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and PEMRA to submit detailed reports. –Business Recorder