Samaa TV, despite being one of the major broadcasters in Pakistan, is no stranger to controversy. The company was yet again involved in a major issue regarding its content. During the coverage of Punjab Governor Shahbaz Taseer’s assassination in 2011, Samaa TV decided to air interviews of the assassin Mumtaz Qadri. PEMRA took immediate action on the matter and confirmed that both Samaa TV and Waqt TV had clearly violated PEMRA Code of Conduct.
According to the PEMRA press release, both channels were fined Rs1 million each for “projecting terrorists and airing blood and gore”, in a clear breach of broadcast protocols, rules, and regulations in Pakistan. PEMRA added that both channels and their management will be provided sufficient time to respond in personal airings to interviews of the assassin Mumtaz Qadri.
Even though Chairman PEMRA Mushtaq Malik had denied placing any fines on the two private channels, the regulatory body soon confirmed that it had taken strong action.
As a major stakeholder in presenting and shaping narratives, the media must play a responsible role. Incidents such as these show the influence held by major media houses and broadcasters. Key organizations such as PEMRA must continue playing an effective role in order to ensure that media plays a positive role in the country.