Pemra over alleged ISPR-run radio stations
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government and regulator of the electronic media to respond to allegations that the army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), is illegally running radio stations.
Through an application filed on behalf of journalist Rashid Rehman, human right activist Asma Jahangir has requested an apex court bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, to instruct the government to disclose the number of radio stations being run by the ISPR.
The bench is hearing petitions filed by journalists Hamid Mir and Absar Alam and others, seeking a court order for abolishing secret funds being maintained by the information ministry.
The bench on Wednesday issued notices to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf with a direction to submit a comprehensive rejoinder to the allegations levelled in the application filed by Ms Jahangir.
The application has requested the government and Pemra to disclose the number of FM radio stations being run by the ISPR and also whether these stations are being regulated properly, if at all.
The government and Pemra have also been requested to disclose the amounts made available to these facilities and also the expenditures incurred on producing films and dramas.
The petition has requested the government to inform the public whether any working journalist was ever engaged by ISPR in any capacity.
It has also alleged that radio networks using frequencies FM89.04 and FM96 have an outreach of more than 55 cities and are being controlled directly by the ISPR but Pemra has failed to regulate these stations.
The court directed Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman to furnish the government’s response on a petition moved by journalist Asad Kharral that highlighted the setting up of a media communication cell being managed by the daughter of the prime minister.
The cell employing 38 highly paid employees has so far issued advertisements worth Rs9 billion to the electronic and print media organisations. The adverts mainly aim to publicise high government functionaries in violation of earlier court orders.
Referring to the social service messages the electronic media are supposed to telecast, Pemra Chairman Absar Alam conceded that none of the private television channels had allocated 10 per cent of their airtime for dissemination of such messages.