Anchor Kashif Abbasi has hosted his show “Off The Record” after the 60-day ban imposed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (PEMRA) was lifted within 24 hours of its imposition, following the submission of a written reply by Ary News.
On Wednesday, the media watchdog had issued a notification banning Abbasi for 60 days for “acting unprofessionally” and “not intervening” when Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda produced a boot to put down political opponents during Abbasi’s show.
The ban was roundly condemned by the Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND), which called for the ban to be lifted immediately.
Vawda had earlier this week appeared on the talk show along with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Qamar Zaman Kaira and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) representative Javed Abbasi. He had caught the guests by surprise by suddenly placing a black boot on the table they were sitting around.
He was mocking the opposition parties for their “unconditional” support for the Army Act amendment bill, saying the parties were “lying down to kiss the boot”.
PEMRA, in its notification, had said the content aired live during the programme appeared to be a “willful attempt to debase and demean a state institution by dragging it unnecessarily in a debate”.
“Therefore, in view of the aforementioned reasons the competent authority decides that in the exercise of delegated powers of the authority, the broadcast or rebroadcast of the programme is prohibited with immediate effect for 60 days starting from January 6, 2020.”
The media regulatory authority further said Abbasi was also banned from appearing on television for 60 days. During the ban, he was not to conduct his show or appear on the television channel he was associated with or any other television channel as a guest/analyst or expert.
In case of non-compliance by the TV channel, the authority said it would proceed under PEMRA laws, which may result in suspension/revocation of the satellite TV channel license conferred to the television channel.
Amid protests by the journalist community, ARY reportedly approached PEMRA with its right to reply and was subsequently allowed to continue with the programme with Abbasi in his chair.