Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Information Kamil Ali Agha said on Tuesday that a no-objection certificate issued by a government authority cannot be withdrawn in a unilateral manner with the change of faces as it would create chaos and is against the principle of good governance.
Agha, a senator belonging to the PMLQ, made these remarks while discussing the issue of Bol News Channel which was forced to shut its operations on September 30, 2015 after the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) suspended its license on the orders of Information Ministry.
PEMRA violated the Sindh High Court orders which allowed the news channel to continue its transmission, he said while chairing the meeting of the Standing Committee.
Those who attended the meeting included Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Senator Saeed Ghani, Senator Nihal Hashmi, Senator Rubina Khalid, Senator Ghous Muhaamd Khan Niazi, Senator Ashok Kumar, Senator Usman Khan Kakar and Chairman PEMRA Absar Alam.
The Standing Committee discussed the issue of Bol News in detail and senators expressed concern over its closure that deprived nearly 2,200 media workers of their jobs.
Agha said that the issue of the non-payment of salaries of the Bol employees and the closure of this channel are both interlinked. “PEMRA as a regulator should facilitate the Bol News which got license after due process,” he said adding that PEMRA should get in touch with the interior ministry for this purpose.
Senator Farhatullah Babar of the PPP said that all the concerned people know that the Bol crisis has been manufactured by big vested interests. “The transmission of Bol News should not have been blocked in the first place,” he said. “Ministry of Information has no mandate to direct PEMRA to close the transmission of any channel. It is illegal.”
Babar said that PEMRA chairman should not remain indifferent and play his role to resolve the issue.
Senator Saeed Ghani of the PPP criticized the way Bol issue was handled, saying that it reflected that its management was victimized.
“Everybody knew that Bol News planned to launch in a big way, but if they were suspected of any irregularity none of the government authorities moved against them for the initial two years… the sudden crackdown and suspension of the license shows that the action against Bol is malafied.”
Senator Rubina Khalid said that it was unfortunate that the launch of Bol News was derailed. “Hundreds of people were unemployed the way its operations were shut. Bol News should be allowed to operate.”