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PEMRA issues notice to ARY for airing ‘fake news’


The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing what it termed was “fake/unverified news” based on informal sources about the stance of Pakistan’s former envoy to the United States, Asad Majeed, regarding the “lettergate” controversy.

According to the comments quoted in the notice, ARY News cited sources claiming that Majeed, in the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, maintained that the cable’s contents amounted to interference in internal affairs, and that it was a “reality” that threatening language had been used in the cable and the ambassador remained steadfast on his stance.

Pemra said that the airing of “fake/unverified news” quoting informal sources without taking Majeed’s point of view appeared to be an “intentional move on the part of ARY News and tantamount to malign state institutions”.

The channel had also reported that it had been taken off air in various parts of the country on Thursday evening.

“Many people are telling me that @ARYNEWSOFFICIAL has been shut down in many areas in Punjab! Especially PTCL!!! I imagine why. #azadiyasahafat #pakistan,” Salman Iqbal, founder and CEO ARY, tweeted.

However, PEMRA, taking to Twitter as well, denied the claims. “ARY News is being broadcasted uninterrupted on cable as well as PTCL across the country,” it said.

The authority denied the channel’s claims, saying the reports were untrue.

Responding to the allegations, PTCL had also said that its smart TV has not stopped broadcasting any channel anywhere in the country.

Earlier in the day, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that legislation would be made in PEMRA laws to eliminate fake news.

Read more: Govt to introduce legislation to eliminate fake news: Marriyum

The decision was reached during a meeting between the information minister and the Media Joint Action Committee. The forum reached a consensus that fake news damages national security interests and societal cohesion.

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will not compromise on the protection of freedom of expression,” Minister Aurangzeb said. “The prime minister wants to promote this constitutional and civil right. Death of journalism is the death of politics and democracy.”

“For four years, the people, politics and journalism has been derailed,” she said. The minister said during this time, attempts were made to snatch the ‘freedom of the nation’.

Aurangzeb added that ‘black laws’ such as the PECA Ordinance and Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) conspired to enslave 220 million people.

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