ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage yesterday termed the ban on Dr Shahid Masood’s TV talk show violation of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority‘s code of conduct.

Chairman Committee Senator Kamal Ali Agha had taken suo motu notice of ban imposed last week on the TV talks show. He said that authority cannot impose ban on any anchor or programme without hearing him. He said that body wants to see PEMRA as non-controversial institution. The PEMRA has not taken notice of Indian, Italian songs and Hindi programmes so far but it closed the programme of a Pakistani journalist, Agha said.

Agha said that he did not find Masood guilty during PEMRA’s briefing and cannot impress with the clips of different newspapers.

Chairman PEMRA Absar Alam told the committee that Authority had taken the action against Geo and AJJ TVs and shutdown programmes of two senior anchors in Ramazan due to violation of PEMAR code of conduct. He said that Dr Shahid Masood raised baseless questions after kidnapping of Chief Justice Sindh High Court’s son Awais Shah.    

The committee also discussed the revival of national institutions like Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Lok Virsa and National Book Foundation. The issue was raised by Syed Shibli Faraz who attended the meeting on special invitation. He said that it appears the above mentioned institutions have failed to fulfill the mandate given to them.

He said that these institutions have been unable to serve art, culture and literature as 90 per cent of their budgetary allocations are spent on salaries. He said that the committee should recommend allocation of more funds for the Lok Virsa, PNCA and NBF.

Mushahidullah Khan said that the nations which do not pay attention to art, culture and literature, they make no progress and face extinction.

He said that a committee comprising eminent literary figures should be constituted to present recommendations for revival of the Lok Virsa, PNCA and NBF. Kamil Ali Agha said that despite assurances by the former secretary IB&NH, retired employees of Lok Virsa were not being paid pensions.

The meeting was attended by Senator Farhatullah Babar, Yaqoob Nasir, Senator Robbina Khalid, Senator Ashook Kamar, Secretary Information Saba Mohsin and officials of PEMRA, Lok Virsa and ministry of Information.