Pakistan's top TV channel's license suspended

By Aamir Latif, Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Pakistani authorities demand that three channels go off the air immediately

The Pakistani authorities demand that three channels go off the air immediately

Islamabad - The Pakistani authorities suspended the license of the country's top TV channel Geo on Tuesday, demanding that it go off the air immediately, 

Should the channel not comply, authorities threatened to close down its offices across the country. 

“We have suspended Geo`s license until May 28, Israr Abbasi, a member of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), told reporters. Geo should go off the air voluntarily, in line with the decision, otherwise we can use the police force for that."

The decision affects three channels - Geo News, Geo Entertainment, and Geo Tez- all owned by the Geo group, he added. 

"The decision has been taken on the basis of serious reservations concerning the Geo group, ranging from airing inciting talk shows to foreign funding," Abbasi said. A definitive decision regarding the lifting of the suspension or permanent closure will be taken on May 28, he added. The TV channel has the right to challenge the decision in the country’s high court.

Geo  has been in hot waters since April 19 when it blamed the country’s spy agency, Inter Services intelligence (ISI), for the shooting of famous journalist, Hamid Mir, in the southern port city of Karachi, sparking countrywide demonstrations in favor of ISI. Last week, Geo aired a controversial morning show, considered blasphemous by many, which unleashed another round of protests in Pakistan. 

However, the decision made by PEMRA, which includes members from both the private sector and the government, was taken only by the former. Members from the government did not participate in the vote thus fanning speculation that the decision may have been an economic one from competitors of Geo TV.

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