PEMRA headquarters in Islamabad. (PHOTO: Dawn)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Considering the current political rhetoric, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on a press release Monday warned local channels to refrain from broadcasting “malicious content” against its institution.

The electronic media regulator issued directives for all satellite TV channels — both news and current affairs — to withhold from telecasting content against state institutions.

While issuing a directive warned all satellite TV channels, PEMRA exclusively named the judiciary and armed forces as state institution, saying such criticism has to be avoided while airing talks shows and news bulletins.

“Licences have been sensitised of the fact that ridiculing state institutions, especially the judiciary and armed forces is against Pemra laws and various judgements of the Superior Courts,” it said, as local media Dawn reported.

However, the regulator did not specify any political party or group accused of criticizing the country’s armed forces or judiciary.

“In the past PEMRA has repeatedly directed its licensees to follow the PEMRA laws and court orders in letter and spirit and refrain from airing slanderous campaign/content against any state institution, as airing of such content, prima facie, is deemed as propaganda.”

The authority has also warned the channels that in case of any intentional/unintentional violation committed, PEMRA laws shall be invoked, leading to prohibition of programs and talk shows.  

Who is PEMRA and What is its Authority?

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is an independent and constitutionally established federal institution responsible for regulating and issuing channel licenses for establishment of the mass media culture, print and electronic media.

Codified under the Article 19: Chapter I of the Constitution of Pakistan, it has jurisdiction to impose reasonable restrictions in the interest of the religion, the integrity, national security of Pakistan. 

Established on 1 March 2002, PEMRA’s principal objectives are to facilitate and regulate the private electronic mass-media industry and to improve the standards of information, education and entertainment.

Its constitutional mandate is to enlarge the choice available to the people of Pakistan including news, current affairs, religious knowledge, art and culture as well as science and technology.

On 28 June 2018 after the Supreme Court’s order, Saleem Baig was appointed as the Chairman of PEMRA.