PAKISTAN: MAST FM103 Shutdown by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority 

Karachi, Pakistan – On 3rd of November 2007, MAST FM103 Karachi station was invaded by PEMRA () officials with heavy police force and was forced to shutdown transmission and all broadcast equipment was confiscated. The grounds stated by the officials of PEMRA were Mast FM103 broadcasting hourly news bulletins and current affairs programmes, from BBC. Mast FM103 is the most popular radio network as per AC Nielson’s market survey (copy attached).

Mast FM103 is a masses radio station with a nationwide network penetrating all classes broadcasting news and entertainment programmes round the clock. There are eight other radio stations still broadcasting and only Mast FM103 was shutdown. PEMRA has sealed Mast FM103 Lahore and Karachi stations in the past as well to silence the independent editorial content of the radio network.

The PEMRA amended Ordinance No. LXV of 2007 promulgated along with issuance of Provisional Constitution Order 2007 is a serious attempt to stifle and strangulate the freedom of speech, expression and freedom of information of general public at large. Blanket powers have been given to PEMRA to seize broadcast or distribution service equipment or seal the premises of the licensee under the garb of public interest. The violation of amendments by media channel owner is liable to be punished up to three years imprisonment or with fine which may extend to ten million rupees or with both. This amended ordinance is also applicable to entertainment programming in addition to news and current affairs.

A week has passed and still there is no conformation as to when the radio station’s broadcast equipment will be returned. Mast FM103 is also suffering from huge monetary losses, hardship and is unable to fulfil various obligations towards the advertisers, and other contractual obligations. We request all independent voices, to raise the issue through their platforms in the interest of free speech.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. The above statement has only been forwarded by the AHRC.

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Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : FS-042-2007
Countries : Pakistan,