Lahore: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday stopped Pakistan's electronic media regulator from taking any adverse action against TV anchors who challenged a directive, which barred them from giving their opinions during talk shows, until further orders, according to a media report.
Around 11 anchors have filed a petition in the high court against Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority's (Pemra) notification, saying the directive violated Article 19 of the country's Constitution, which grants every Pakistani citizen the right to freedom of speech, the Dawn reported.
They urged the court to suspend Pemra's notification until the issuance of a final verdict in the case.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Pemra's lawyer said the regulatory body has already issued a clarification on the matter.
He said that the LHC did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case as it can only be heard by the Islamabad High Court.
The high court accepted the petition for hearing and ordered all respondents, including Pemra and the ministry of information, to submit written responses. The hearing was adjourned indefinitely.
Pemra was criticised by the media as well as government officials for a notification issued on Sunday, which barred anchorpersons from giving their opinions during talk shows and limited their role to moderator.
The notification also attracted the wrath of the IHC, which issued a contempt of court notice to the regulatory body's chairman on Tuesday for using the court's name to issue strict guidelines to media houses and anchorpersons.
The notification issued by Pemra had ordered anchorpersons "not to appear as experts in talk shows in their own or other channels and to make sure that guests invited on news shows are "selected with due care".
It said the participants or invitees should be selected with due care having credibility as fair and unbiased analysts with requisite knowledge and expertise on the subject matter.