ISLAMABAD:The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday directed Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to issue a broadcasting licence to Geo Super (Sports Channel) instantly and submit a compliance report within three days. A three-member bench of the SC headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Tariq Pervez and Justice Amir Hani heard the Geo Super’s appeal and stay application for issuing of a broadcasting license.
The appeal was seeking a direction to PEMRA to immediately issue a broadcast license to Geo Super. The appeal was filed two weeks ago after the judgment of a division bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) on May 18. In its judgment, the SHC bench, comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmad and Justice Shahid Anwar Bajwa had set aside the Ministry of Interior’s letter in which it had refused security clearance. The Court had also set aside PEMRA’s letter in which it had rejected the licence application of Geo Super.
In its judgment, the SHC had noted that despite being asked repeatedly, neither PEMRA nor Ministry of Interior were able to produce any justification for refusing security clearance to Pakistan’s first sports channel. However, the Court while setting aside PEMRA’s refusal to grant licence to Geo Super on grounds of security, did not direct the Authority to immediately issue a licence to Geo Super.
It was in 2007 that Geo group applied to PEMRA for a licence for Geo Super sports channel. PEMRA obtained all the information and processed Geo Super’s licence for one whole year after which it forwarded the Geo Super application to the Interior Ministry for security clearance. After waiting for another one year, without giving any reason, the Ministry of Interior refused to grant security clearance for issuance of licence to the sports channel Geo Super. It was thus in 2009 when PEMRA refused to issue the permit to Geo Super on the grounds of the lack of security clearance from the ministry.
Immediately after the refusal of licence, Geo challenged PEMRA and the Ministry of Interior’s decision through a writ petition before the Sindh High Court. After two years, the SHC while concluding the hearing of the petition set aside the letters of Ministry of Interior, refusing security clearance, and letter of PEMRA refusing licence to Geo Super on the basis of Ministry of Interior’s letter. The Court also decided that PEMRA’s rules of 2009 could not be applied to the licence case of Geo Super.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in his remarks observed that if Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman was the security risk then why others channels of Jang Group are broadcasting in the country. The court also warned the authority saying that they could impose Rs 0.5 million fine per day in case PEMRA failed to issue the licence.
Akram Shiekh – the counsel of Geo Super prayed before the court that the Indian TV channels are broadcasting in the country; however, the people are deprived of national sport channel. He further stated that their clients were providing entertainment to the young generation, adding that they portray best picture of the country in the world of sports.
It has been more than 60 days that Geo Super has been closed down due to refusal of the government and PEMRA to allow the channel to uplink sports events, news and views from Pakistan.