This statement was originally published on pakistanpressfoundation.org on 3 April 2018.
The transmission of Geo TV channel continues to be disrupted in many areas of Pakistan. Television programmes in Pakistan are distributed by cable operators, and there are allegations that they are pressured by political groups and law enforcement agencies to disrupt and suspend the transmission of programs as a means to punish channels.
Disrupting the broadcasts of Geo Television started after the channel broadcast an unproven allegation that intelligence agencies were responsible for the near fatal attack on its news Anchor Hamid Mir on April 19, 2014. The circulation of newspapers belonging to the Jang-Geo group were disrupted as were broadcasts by Geo television channels, particularly Geo News, the news and current affairs channel.
Shahrukh Hasan, Managing Director of Jang group, told Pakistan Press Foundation that Geo TV transmission could not be fully restored for the last four years and it faces frequent disruptions. He added that the group’s newspapers (Jang and The News) also face disruptions in circulation in some areas. He added that, around 50 percent of areas in Pakistan do not receive Geo News transmission regularly. He said some people may have issues with editorial policies of the Jang-Geo media group.
Imran Aslam, president of Geo TV Network, termed the disruptions as an attempt to financially damage the organisation and force it to change its editorial policy. According to press reports Aslam said, “With the elections scheduled within months, some feel that this could be a form of pre-poll rigging. The government appears to be crippled and we are told not to have high hopes from the Supreme Court”.
Ahsan Iqbal, Interior Minister, said that neither the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) nor the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had issued instructions to suspend the distribution of Geo TV. He said a high-level meeting on the suspension of Geo’s channels was to be held on Monday, April 2, 2018.
On April 2, Pemra initiated the process of the cancellation of the licenses of two cable operators, Wateen Multimedia and World Call, for violating PEMRA rules and ordered cable operators to restore the transmissions of channels associated with Geo TV Network within 24 hours. The staff of large cable operators World Call and Storm Fiber confirmed the service had been suspended for over three months in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) housing schemes that are managed by the military. Khalid Arain, Chairman, Cable Operators Association, said the channel’s transmission was interrupted in some areas of Karachi and Punjab but he could not confirm the reasons for the suspension.