ISLAMABAD, May 2 (APP): The Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting Belum Hasnain on Monday issued report on the issue of alleged closure of Geo Super by PEMRA raised by Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and referred to the committee for investigation.According to report, the Standing Committee met on 19th April, and invited Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Chairman PEMRA and Representative from Geo Super to hear their points of view.
The Representative of Jang Group (Geo Super) Muhammad Suleman,Group Director briefed the Committee that since Geo Super does not possess the broadcasting license from Pakistan, therefore it filed an application on 1st April, 2011 to PMERA for grant of uplinking permission from Pakistan to show IPL matches being held in India. PEMRA on 4th April, 2011 asked for certain detail which were provided on 6th April, 2011.
However, PEMRA did not allow the uplinking permission and the channel was constrained to stop its programming. He further told that due to denial of uplinking permission, neither the advertisements could be telecast nor pre and post debates during IPL matches could be managed.
He accused the Government and PEMRA of targeting the Geo Group by
denying uplinking pemission and stoppage of government advertisements.
He also blamed PEMRA for giving undue advantage to PTV. Replying to the queries raised by Members, he informed that Jang Group had been paying taxes and government duties except few disputed payment which were outstanding subject to the decision of the Court. He did not accept the claim of Chairman PEMRA and said that the programming was being uplinked from its Dubai Office.
The M/o Information and Broadcasting informed the Committee that the issue had been almost settled before the Lahore High Court after both the parties i.e. PEMRA and Geo Super had agreed upon a consent agreement but unfortunately that could not materialize since the Counsel of Geo Super withdrew the consent on behalf of his client before it was signed by both the parties.
The Honorable Court while dismissing the petition observed in its short order that it did not give any adjudication in the matter owing to the pending proceedings before the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan,
therefore, there was no use of enforcing a consent arrangement on an unwilling part.
The Secretary further informed that it was earlier agreed between both the parties that Geo Super shall revive its broadcast transmission from their station at Dubai and forthwith provide the transmission parameters to PEMRA, whereupon within 10 minutes of commencement of such transmission, PEMRA shall allow temporary unlinking of pre-match and post-match debate by Geo Super from Pakistan.
Clarifying the stoppage of adds to the Jang Group, the Ministry informed that advertisements worth Rs. 8 crore were released to the Jang Group till date. It was also informed that PTV being the national broadcaster mostly caters the population which does not have access to the Cable facility; therefore, it does not fall within the ambit of PEMRA Law.
Later, the Committee heard the point of view of Chairman PEMRA. He
informed the Committee that PEMRA firmly believes in freedom of media
and plays its role as Regulator so as to ensure compliance of PEMRA
Ordinance in letter and spirit.
He said that Geo Super had launched a baseless and questionable campaign
against government and PEMRA, which was contrary to the facts.
He pointed out that Geo Super only possesses landing rights and does not have a Satellite TV License. Therefore, under section 31 of PEMRA Ordinance, it cannot broadcast or uplink any programme from
Pakistan.However, it can uplink its programming from Dubai and PEMRA has
not barred it from doing so.
The Committee was further apprised that request for temporary uplinking permission was received in PEMRA on 4th April, 2011 and was evaluated in light of PEMRA Law and the Management of Geo Super was asked the same
day to remove the deficiencies in their application with a direction
not to uplink from Pakistan while the application was being processed.
However, the channel stopped its transmission and discontinued uploading any contents for broadcast/retransmission just to malign the government and the PEMRA. At present the logo of the Channel is being received by the cable operators from satellite. He further informed the Committee that Geo Super was violating the Law and uploading its programming from Karachi Office
instead of uploading it from its registered office in Dubai.
He informed the Committee that M/s Birds (Pvt.) Ltd. (Geo Super) has been issued Show Cause Notice under section 28 of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as amended vide Amendment Act of 2007 to resume the broadcast/transmission of Geo Super under Landing Rights Permission failing which PEMRA is liable to suspend the Landing Right Permission under the law.
He further informed the Committee that the Channel started telecasting IPL Matches on AAG TV which was a clear violation of the law thus it had to order for suspension of the channel from Cable network besides issuance of a show cause notice to explain the violation of the law, in that regard.
After intense discussion, the Committee suggested that both the parties as a good gesture may agree on the consent statement presented before the Lahore High Court so that the transmission of the Channel could be aired
without further delay. Text of the statement is as follow:
“Geo Super shall revive its transmission/programming from their station at Dubai as per transmission and programming parameters mentioned in Landing Right permission, whereupon within 15 minutes of commencement of such programming, PEMRA shall allow temporary uplinking for local converge in connection with IPL”
The above statement was read out to both the parties i.e. PEMRA and Geo Super. The Representative of Geo Super agreed with the draft statements, however, asked for consultation with the higher management of the group since he was not authorized to commit anything. The Committee agreed to his request and the process of consultations carried for more than one and half hour.
Later, the Representative turned up and informed the committee that his management agrees on the contents of the draft statement except the word “transmission”. He contended that Geo Super had not suspended its transmission but the programming was not being uplinked due to restriction by PEMRA, therefore, the world “transmission” may be replace by the world
“programming” but it was not agreed by the PEMRA since both the
terminology have different meaning.
The Chairman PEMRA suggested that Members of the Committee and Geo Management may physically verify the uplinking status of Geo Super but the Geo Management refused to visit.
The Committee tried its utmost to resolve the issue however due to the indifferent attitude of the Geo Super management; the whole exercise resulted in futility. The Consent Statement prepared by the Committee was signed by All the Members of the Committee present at that time, Minister and Secretary M/o Information and Chairman PEMRA. However, representative of Geo Super refused to sign it on the pretext stated above.
Therefore, the Committee after hearing both the parties and taking into account the facts resolves that since the matter was pending before the Supreme Court for adjudication, therefore, let the Honorable Court decide as per law. A 4-member Sub-Committee comprising of MNAs Chaudhry Saeed Iqbal, Ms.Shireen Arshad Khan, Farhat Mohammad Khan and Istiqbal Khan has also been constituted to physically verify the claims of PEMRA
and Geo Super regarding uplinking of programming from Karachi or Dubai.
The M/o Information and Broadcasting has been directed to review the
PEMRA Law to make the regulatory role of PEMRA more effective.
The Committee comprises of the following members of Belum Hasnain, Chairperson, Chaudhry Saeed Iqbal, Syed Amir Ali Shah, Farha Naz Ispahani, Samina Mushtaq Pugganwala, Shireen Arshad Khan, Waseem Akhtar Sheikh, Bushra
Rehman, Farhat Mohammad Khan, Istiqbal Khan, Pir Fazal Ali Shah Jeelani,
Farzana Raja, Mir Amer Ali Khan Magsi, Begum Nuzhat Sadiq, Rana Nazir
Ahmad Khan, Shahzada Mohiuddin, Sahibzada Muhamamd Mahboob Sultan and
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan.