Pakistan: Television anchors barred from giving opinion01 Nov, 2019
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), the electronic media watchdog in Pakistan barred the television anchors from giving opinion during the talk shows. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) criticized the directive for being against the journalistic independence, freedom of expression and called on the government to revoke the ban.
Issuing a directive on 27 October, 2019 , PEMRA instructed anchors to limit their role as a moderator and not to serve as an expert on any issue in the channel they are affiliated with and any other channels outside. “[The] role of anchors is to moderate programmes in an objective, unbiased and impartial manner, excluding themselves from their personal opinions, biases and judgments on any issue,” the directive says. It adds: “Therefore, anchors hosting exclusive regular shows should not appear in talk shows whether their own or other channels as subject matter experts.
According to a news report published in Dawn daily, the directive instructed the media houses to select the guests in talk shows with utmost care and keeping in view of their knowledge and expertise in a particular subject. PEMRA argues that the order was issued in line with existing PEMRA laws, Electronic Media (programmes & advertisements) Code of Conduct-2015 and advisories issued from time to time on non-implementation of existing code of conduct vis-a-vis discussions on sub-judice matters.
The PFUJ President GM Jamali and Secretary General Rana Muhammad Azeem have condemned the PEMRA order arguing it being against the freedom of Speech & Expression given by the land of the law.
PFUJ said: “The directory is against the constitutionally enshrined right of citizens of Pakistan to enjoy freedom of speech and expression. Therefore, the PFUJ will stage protests against this move.”
IFJ said: “In a democratic country the government has no power to restrict what the media publishes and broadcasts. It is not the role of PEMRA to dictate who can express opinion and who cannot. We strongly urge the government of Pakistan to revoke the order.”