IFJ in Sharif: restore Bol News, defend press freedom

ISLAMABAD: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the Prime Minister to authorize the reinstatement of News Bowl days after the popular cable TV station was suspended reportedly for operating with an expired license.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Monday stop transmitting News Bowlcriticism of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government and its sister station Entertainment Bowl as what he claimed was their inability to obtain security clearance from the Home Office.

A meeting of the digital media watchdog was told it also revoked the stations’ licenses in 2017, recalling that the case was pending in the Sindh High Court (SHC) until the year last.

He noted that the High Court had also settled the case in July 2021. The meeting was informed News Bowl could not be allowed to operate until the Interior Ministry, led by a stalwart of the Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), issued a security clearance.

“As a result, PEMRA has reviewed all records, court orders and notices from the Department of the Interior and has subsequently decided to revoke the licenses issued to Labbaik (Pvt.) Ltd. (the stations’ holding company) with immediate effect. .”

The watchdog noted the license of Entertainment Bowl expired in December 2021 and the company has not approached PEMRA for its renewal.

Expressing concern over the “restriction” of media freedom, the IFJ, the world federation of journalists’ unions, in a statement, urged the administration of Shehbaz Sharif to “protect the rights of all journalists and media workers and uphold freedom of speech and of the press in accordance with the Pakistani Constitution”.

Freedom of expression activists have criticized the rampant censorship and control of the country’s internet, print and electronic media by the current government.

“It’s digital martial law,” said Usama Khilji, a digital rights activist. AFP.

Pakistan has a history of those in power using the police and courts to stifle their political opponents, and Sharif also has several ongoing cases since he was in opposition.

– With AFP

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