Pakistan: BOL broadcast suspended across Pakistan

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has blocked the transmission of BOL News and BOL Entertainment, revoking the broadcasting license of BOL’s parent company. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Pakistan affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), urge the Pakistani authorities to immediately reverse the transmission suspension orders.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority announced it would suspend the transmission of the BOL broadcast on September 5. Credit: Facebook

On September 5, PEMRA announced it would suspend the transmission of BOL News and BOL Entertainment after reviewing legal and government records. The regulatory agency said the media organisation had failed to attain an appropriate security clearance from Pakistan’s Interior Ministry.

At the same meeting, PEMRA announced the cancellation of the channel license of BOL parent company M/s Labbaik Private Limited. The licenses expired in December 2021, however, M/s Labbaik had not applied for a renewal.

According to channel management, BOL News and BOL Entertainment transmission was disrupted after PEMRA issued instructions to cable providers. BOL News has denounced the blocking of the broadcast, stating on the outlet’s website that BOL has been punished for broadcasting content of former PM Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party.

PEMRA previously blocked the transmission of BOL News and Entertainment channels in 2017, however this action was challenged in the Sindh High Court by BOL ownership. The legal challenge was settled in July 2021.

In January 2021, PEMRA issued a PKR 1 million (approx. USD 4,500) fine and suspended BOL News’ license for 30 days for the broadcast of “contemptuous” remarks regarding judges of Lahore High Court. On August 21, 2022, state authorities detained BOL News journalist Jameel Farooqui following a video posted to his YouTube channel.

PFUJ President GM Jamali and General Secretary Rana M Azeem said: “Off-airing a channel has a direct impact on the jobs of thousands of journalists. If the suspension orders are not lifted, the PFUJ will fight in the courts and protest across Pakistan.”

The IFJ said: “PEMRA’s suspension of BOL News’ transmission is a concerning restriction on media freedom. The IFJ urges the Pakistani government to protect the rights of all journalists and media workers and maintain freedom of expression and the press in accordance with Pakistan's Constitution.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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