Condemnations poured in from across the country on Friday after the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) put a ban on Bol News transmission without any notification late last night.
PEMRA claimed that the Bol News had allegedly violated the ban on the media coverage of the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). Bol News management declared PEMRA’s action illegal, one-sided and in violation of a court order.
PEMRA cannot just suspend transmission of any channel without issuing a notification or hearing the accused party, senior journalists say.
Following the suspension of Bol News transmission overnight, politicians, journalist bodies, the business community and people from all walks of life condemned the PEMRA’s attempt to muzzle Bol News.
Spokesperson Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a tweet that the closure of Bol News without any notice was another example of dictatorship and fascism.
“In three years, Imran Sahib has shut down the opposition, the media and every language, speech, column, programme and TV channel that has criticised his actions,” she added.
بول نیوز ٹی وی کی بغیر نوٹس بندش آمریت اور فسطائی کی ایک اور بین مثال ہے۔ عمران صاحب نے تین سال میں اپوزیشن، میڈیا اور اپنے اقدامات کو تنقید کا نشانہ بنانے والی ہر زبان، تقریر، کالم، پروگرام اور ٹی وی کو بند کیا ہے۔
Senior PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Khawaja Saad Rafique also criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Isaf-led (PTI) government for banning Bol News.
“Bol TV has been shut down for showing a sit-in TLP protest. The voice of the media is being systematically suppressed,” said Abbasi.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Punjab President Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that the ban on Bol News was tantamount to imprisonment of journalism.
PPP’s Khursheed Shah also said that the government was imposing sanctions on channels to cover up its failure.
“Will banning Bol TV hide their flaws?” asked Shah and added that “this is the reason why the government is collapsing.”
Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman Mustafa Kamal said that in civilised countries, there was no concept of curbing press freedom and demanded the authorities to restore Bol News’s transmission.
“Restrictions on freedom of expression are undemocratic,” said Kamal.
Condemning the ban, leader of the ruling PTI. MPA Raja Azhar lauded Bol News for being a voice of the voiceless in Pakistan.
JUI-F leader Hafiz Hamdullah also slammed Islamabad for imposing the ban on Bol News.
Singer-turn-politician Chairman Barabari Party Jawad Ahmed said that the freedom of expression was a right of every citizen.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s Abdul Rasheed said that those, who were harping about media’s freedom, imposed restrictions on it now.
Meanwhile, Majlis-e-Wahdatal Muslimeen, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and MQM-Haqiqi chairman Afaq Ahmed also condemned PEMRA’s action.
PFUJ, LHCBA denounces ban on Bol News
Central Vice-President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Rana Pervez Hameed said that banning Bol News transmission amounted to strangulating media.
Lahore Press Club, in a statement, said that the suspension of Bol News was illegal and asked the authorities to restore its transmission.
President Multan Union of Journalists Shakeel Baloch termed a restriction on any channel as unacceptable.
Pakistan’s business and legal fraternities also supported Bol News and demanded immediate restoration of its transmission.
Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) rejected the PEMRA’s ban and said, “A party [PTI] that rose to power with the help of the power of the media had now become its biggest enemy.”
“The government has exposed its dictatorial face by banning Bol TV,” it added.
General-Secretary Karachi Bar Association Amir Nawaz Waraich said that the PTI government was trying to hide its failure by suppressing the voice of the media – the fourth and most important pillar of the state.
Rejecting the ban on Bol News transmission, President All-City Tajir Ittehad Sharjeel Goplani appreciated the role it played in resolving issues of the trader community in the past.