Pakistan’s media regulator stops broadcasters from covering banned religious group protest

Supporters of the banned Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) gather as they prepare to march on towards Islamabad, in Gujranwala, Pakistan, October 28, 2021. (REUTERS)
Supporters of the banned Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) gather as they prepare to march on towards Islamabad, in Gujranwala, Pakistan, October 28, 2021. (REUTERS)
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Updated 29 October 2021
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Pakistan’s media regulator stops broadcasters from covering banned religious group protest

Pakistan’s media regulator stops broadcasters from covering banned religious group protest
  • PEMRA imposed a similar ban on Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s media coverage in April after the group was declared a proscribed entity
  • The country’s interior minister says the religious group has no reason to protest since the French envoy has already ‘fled the country’

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Thursday banned all radio and television coverage of an ongoing protest march by a proscribed religious group by circulating an official notification addressed to satellite TV channels, FM radio stations and distribution service networks operating in the country.
The media blackout was imposed after Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) decided on Friday to march on Islamabad, demanding the release of its top leader, Saad Rizvi, along with the expulsion of the French ambassador for the publication of anti-Islam caricatures in his country last year.
The government initially tried to negotiate with the group and offered to accept most of its demands.

However, it said it could not expel the French envoy or shut down the embassy since it was going to create significant problems for the country.
As the TLP activists continued with street agitation and clashed with police, the Pakistani government announced it would deal with the group as any other militant entity and not let it undermine the state’s writ.
“In exercise of the powers conferred under Section 27 of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA Amendment Act 2007, all satellite TV channels, FM radio stations and distribution service networks (Cable TV Operators, IPTV) are hereby directed to stop the media coverage of proscribed organization ‘Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan’ (TLP),” the notification said.
PEMRA had imposed a similar ban on the media coverage of the organization in April after it was declared a proscribed group for engaging “in act of terrorism [and] acting in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country,” said the official document.
It also reminded the broadcast and distribution networks that “Clause 3 (3) of Electronic Media Code of Conduct, 2015 prohibits media coverage of proscribed organizations.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told the local media that the French ambassador was not even present in the country, adding that TLP had no reason to march on the federal capital anymore.
“The ambassador of France got scared and fled the country,” Geo News quoted him as saying.
Ahmed also warned TLP activists they would be stopped if they continued to march toward the federal capital when the government was trying to negotiate with them.