ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court on Monday annulled a verdict by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) — wherein the bench had rejected an appeal by Neo Television’s management requesting it to direct Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to change its category from “entertainment” to “news and current affairs” — and ordered that the channel be returned to the airwaves.
On April 30, Pemra had directed the channel to air entertainment content only and stop airing news and current affairs programmes as it did not possess a licence for it. However, when the channel failed to comply with the order, the media regulatory body suspended the channel’s licence last week.
Subsequently, the channel’s management moved Islamabad High Court (IHC) challenging Pemra’s decision but the court rejected its plea of change of category and upheld Pemra’s decision.
Today, a two-member bench, comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Yahya Afridi, which presided over the hearing, directed the channel’s management to appeal before IHC court to seek further relief from the regulatory body.
Pemra had said that due to the non-compliance of licence terms and conditions and the orders of the authority, it suspended the licence given to M/S Fun Infotainment (Pvt) Ltd. with immediate effect.
The channel had obtained a licence only for airing entertainment programmes but since its inception, the management used to air news and current affairs content, ignoring Pemra’s directives and notices to abide by the agreement.
“Authority had directed NEO TV to stop [the] violation of licence category by airing news and current affairs programmes (which amounts to contravening the Pemra laws) and revert back to its approved programming content that is entertainment programming in accordance with the terms and conditions of the licence,” the statement issued by Pemra had said.