Pakistan media regulatory authority slaps ban on Bol News for live coverage of PTI-police clashes

Mar 19, 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], March 19 : Pakistan's electronic media regulator has imposed a ban on Bol News for the live coverage of clashes between law enforcement personnel and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers in Islamabad, Dawn reported.
PTI workers and law enforcement personnel came face-to-face on Saturday when former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reached Islamabad to appear before a judge in the Toshakhana case.
As the situation escalated, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) ordered all news and current affairs channels to stop live coverage from outside the Judicial Complex. However, Bol News continued to air the situation, prompting the regulator to order cable operators to stop its transmission, as per the Dawn report.
Pemra said that live coverage of public outrage against law enforcers caused panic among viewers and police personnel. In the advisory issued on the Islamabad district administration's request, the PEMRA said TV channels showing live footage and images of a violent mob and attacks were a matter of concern.

"Such footage/images were seen on TV screens without any editorial oversight during a recent standoff between political party workers and law enforcing agencies in Lahore wherein, [a] violent mob used petrol bombs, injuring [unarmed] policemen and blazing police vehicles," Pemra said in the advisory as per the Dawn report.
"Live telecast of such footage on different satellite TV channels created chaos and panic among the viewers and the police."
Pemra said such actions by a mob not only affect the law and order situation but also make people's lives and properties vulnerable. Pakistan's media regulatory authority noted that airing such content is in violation of the Supreme Court's judgement in suo motu case No 28 of 2018.
The Pemra stressed that in case of non-compliance, the channel's licence shall be suspended without any show-cause notice "in public interest along with other enabling provisions of law," the news report said.
Meanwhile, Bol News management termed the regulator's action as "unfair" and said that it will continue to fight at all forums. Siddique Jan, who is Bol News bureau chief in Islamabad, said that their channel has been repeatedly targeted over their stance to give fair coverage to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
"Bol [News] has been repeatedly targeted by Pemra over our stance to give fair coverage to the mainstream political opposition, the PTI," Siddique Jan, who is the channel's bureau chief in Islamabad said. He further stated that cable operators said they were directed to move the channel's number, making it difficult for people to watch its coverage.
As Imran Khan reached outside Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) to appear in court in the Toshakhana case on March 18, at least 25 people were injured, 30 automobiles, including motorbikes, and a police station was set on fire during clashes between the police and PTI supporters in Islamabad, as per the Dawn report. Law enforcers and PTI supporters used anti-riot gear against each other with teargas used from both sides to push the opposing side back.