GEO NEWS Selling Airtime to U.S Government – A Question on Sanctity of Pakistani Media

Geo Network does not seem to be catching a break these days. Already caught amidst the whirlwind of Media commission Report and PEMRA’s allegations, the leak of document from MKR foundation begging their foreign lords for funds might serve as the final nail in the coffin for GEO Network. With its primetime programming and anchorpersons open for sale to foreign Lords for the price of more than million pounds, Geo Network is planning to make the most out of the cash cow status of its influence in Pakistani media scene with total disregard to sanctity of journalistic professionalism and nationalism.

The leaked Document is from Mir Khalil ur Rahman Foundation (the governing NGO of Jang / Geo Group). This document was submitted to the Bureau 0f Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), United States Department of State on 30th June 2013, asking for a “grant” for their upcoming campaign “Access to Justice: Media Campaign “.

In the leaked document, MKRF foundation claims about running different campaigns in Pakistan. Ironically, campaign against Islamic laws (Hudood ordinance) and foreign funded Aman Ki Asha are the most proudly owned and presented in this document. The reality of Aman Ki Asha was also revealed through media commission report two weeks before that how the Norwegian NGO funding Aman Ki Asha is connected to Indian sponsors including the Indian state television, the Doordarshan.

Such controversies are nothing new for Geo Network. Geo News and its anchors are known for their anti-ISI and anti-Armed forces inclination dejecting the security apparatus when the armed forces are busy fighting India-funded insurgency in Baluchistan, FATA, and Karachi.

The question arises in one’s mind that how low can a Pakistani Channel stoop by campaigning against Islamic Laws and Two Nation Theory – the theory giving birth to the very existence of Pakistan. Would greed and gluttony make them so desperate to sell their nationalism to their foreign lords? Will there be any end to the hypocrisy of the black sheep of Pakistani Media, Geo Network?

GEO Network blatantly violates PEMRA’s policies yet PEMRA stays silent

Petition filed against GEO Network’s channel Geo Kahani for airing objectionable content and violating PEMRA’s policies.

* GEO Network violated the PEMRA policy for all its entertainment channels.
* GEO Kahani airing more than 40% – 70% foreign content against allowed limit of 6%.
* PEMRA’s failure to enforce its policy on GEO Network is discriminatory.
* Petition demands cancellation of GEO Kahani’s license.

Violating the PEMRA policies by airing more than 40% foreign content, Pakistan’s largest law firm has filed a petition on behalf of URDU1 against ‘GEO Kahani’ which comes under the banner of GEO/Jang Network.
GEO Network is on a foreign agenda; promoting foreign content consequently Pakistan being subjected to cultural invasion.

According to PEMRA’s policy, 10% of the entire broadcast content of any entertainment channel can be foreign. Out of this, 4% of foreign content should be English and the remaining 6% can be non-English i.e. dubbed in Urdu or India.
GEO Kahani, however is clearly violating PEMRA policy by broadcasting more than 40% – 70% of foreign content as of today, even after the petition.

Holding power in the industry doesn’t give anyone the right to break laws. PEMRA being the lawful authority is responsible for taking actions against all such illegitimate activities. While in GEO’s case, no such action has taken on this open violation.

It has always been the case that GEO Group influences power circles through its dominancy. Does this mean it also has an influence on PEMRA? Is PEMRA covering GEO or will they take the stand and cancel GEO Kahani’s license in the light of this evidence!

Here’s what the petition states:

  • Geo Network violated the PEMRA policy for all entertainment channels that states that only 10% of the entire broadcasting content can be foreign out of which 4% should be English content while rest of the 6% can include Non-English (Indian or other) content.
  • The Programming of Geo Kahani, a part of Geo Network consists of more than 40% of Foreign content which consist of Indian and other non-English foreign content dubbed in Urdu – which is in clear violation of PEMRA’s aforementioned policy.
  • PEMRA has not taken any action against this blatant violation of its policies by GEO Network on account of latter’s vast influence and power.
  • GEO Network is abusing its dominant position and political influence as Pakistan’s largest media group to oust competitors.
  • PEMRA’s failure to enforce its policy on Geo Network is discriminatory, unreasonable and arbitrary – which is in clear renunciation of PEMRA Ordinance.
  • It is statutory obligation of PEMRA to ensure licenses are treated equally and fairly and do not exceed their programming mix limits imposed in their licensing terms.
  • Such absence of action will have an adverse effect on diversity of electronic media in Pakistan and choice available to viewers.