PEMRA bans TV coverage of terrorist attacks

KARACHI: In just the first two months of the new year, Pakistan has had to face two terrifying terrorist attacks. Just as the nation came to terms with the Peshawar mosque bomb blast that killed over 60 people, most of whom were police officers, we were attacked again. This time the attack was on the police headquarters in Karachi. Going on for three hours, the harrowing reality of the attack on the police headquarters in Karachi was all caught on camera in real time. Since then, PEMRA has taken strict measures to ban TV coverage of terrorist attacks.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued a notice which read, “It has been observed with grave concern that despite repeated directives satellite TV channels are unable to comply with provisions of Electronic Media Code of Conduct-2015 in letter and spirit.” It went on to note, that as with the coverage of the attack on the police headquarters in Karachi, “Satellite TV channels and their staff is found ambivalent of not only their security but also create hurdles in rescue as well as combat operations.”

The notice highlighted that in order to get higher ratings and being the first channel to cover the story, channels were violating journalistic ethics by, “airing live images of the crime scene.” PEMRA also noted that channels were making reports that were, “unverified, speculative without consulting security agencies present on the spot,” which in turn were causing widespread panic, “Such reporting hence creates panic and unwarranted chaos among the viewers not only in the country but also Pakistanis living abroad.”

The notice issued by PEMRA also warned news channels of the dire consequences of their irresponsible reporting. It claimed that it was allowing terrorists to be “using media as a form of political advertising” and thus, “publicizing their campaign”.

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