US expresses concern over the space for media freedom in Pakistan
Washington, June 07, 2014
First Published: 11:14 IST(7/6/2014)
Last Updated: 11:48 IST(7/6/2014)
The US has expressed concern over the space for media freedom in Pakistan where the licence of Geo News channel was suspended for 15 days.
Pakistani journalists gather in the newsroom of Geo television in Karachi after Pakistan took the country's most popular television channel off air.(AFP Photo)
"We have very clearly said that we are concerned about the space for media freedom in Pakistan," the state department deputy spokesperson, Marie Harf, told reporters on Friday.
"We are aware that Geo TV's broadcast license has been suspended for 15 days and that a fine has been imposed on the outlet by the regulatory authority. We have also seen reports that Geo TV has filed suit against the regulatory authority as well," she said.
"Not going to take a position on the merits of these actions, but we have long been clear that freedom of the press, including freedom of the airwaves and safety for journalists, is of paramount importance to freedom of expression in Pakistan and everywhere else," Harf said.
The suspension of the licence of Geo News was announced by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) after a meeting chaired by its chief Parvez Rathore.
It also asked the channel to pay Rs. 10 million as fine.
"The Authority, after thread-bare discussion while considering all the relevant provisions of PEMRA laws, took a strong notice of violations committed by Geo News and unanimously decided to immediately suspend the license of the said channel for a period of 15 days besides imposing a fine of Rs. 10 million, to be paid before the expiry of the suspension period," PEMRA said in a statement.