Cover up is always worse than the crime

Jan 12th, 2011 | By | Category: PEMRA, The Nation, Waqt TV

The Nation logoAs was reported by most news agencies yesterday, PEMRA imposed fine on two TV channels for projecting terrorists, showing blood and gore. The two TV channels are Samaa TV and Waqt TV.

Waqt TVDespite this official press release, The Nation published an article on page 12 headlined:PEMRA denies fining Waqt TV. According to this article the newspaper Pakistan Today was “had been asked to publish a contradiction and also apologise”.

Rather than publish a contradiction and also apologise, however, Pakistan Today has a follow up article which reports PEMRA has sent a letter has been sent to CEO Waqt TV Nidai Millat directing to “pay the fine within 15 days and abstain from airing such footages of dead bodies, bloodshed and the interviews of terrorists in future.”

Strangely, even though The Nation denied that Waqt TV was fined by PEMRA still it felt the need to publish an Editorial condemning the fine. In the course of their Editorial, The Nation mocks PEMRA as unintelligent.

It thus became obvious that PEMRA, instead of being an independent regulator, was comfortable with the role of a tool of the government for suppressing the freedom of press and the free flow of information. This exercise of discretionary power was particularly blatant because it should have been obvious to PEMRA that the supposed interview consisted of existing video footage put together. It is frightening enough to learn that PEMRA lacks the expertise to make such a distinction, and it is even more frightening that the government has found itself in the position of such lack of intelligence.

It should be noted that Waqt TV is owned by Nawa-i-Waqt media group which also owns The Nation.

Two questions are raised by this situation.

First, how did such an obviously inaccurate story as to claim that no fines had been issued get past the editors? Surely this would have been caught as incorrect since the newspaper was preparing for the very same day an editorial condemning the fines.

Second, given that Waqt TV and The Nation are owned by the same media group, was this an intentional effort by Nawa-i-Waqt group to misinform its readers due to the embarrassment of having Waqt TV subjected to PEMRA fines?

It is not clear if this was a case of intentional or unintentional mistaken reporting. What is clear is that The Nation not Pakistan Today owes its readers a contradiction and an apology.

Special thank you to dear reader Farrukh for bringing this story to our attention! If you see something inaccurate, inappropriate or unprofessional in media, please report a tip and we will research and post on the item.

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