Islamabad: The licences of three television channels of the Geo TV network were on Tuesday suspended by Pakistan`s electronic media watchdog for levelling allegations against the country`s powerful spy agency ISI.
The licences of Geo News, Geo Tez and Geo Entertainment have been suspended untill May 28 by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Mian Shams, a PEMRA member, told reporters.
"The licenses of these three channels have been suspended till May 28 when final decision will be taken about their future," siad Shams.
He said it was unanimously decided that the licence for Geo News be cancelled.
However, due to a legal formality that could not be completed, the recommendations were send to the Council of Complaints, advising that they respond before May 28, the date for the next meeting of PEMRA, Shams said.
He said these channels have been ordered to be taken off air and their offices will be sealed.
However, it is not clear how the decision will be implemented as it was taken by private members only with government members of the PEMRA executive board not present in the meeting.
"PEMRA is an independent organisation, and it would have been better if a government representative attended today`s meeting as well and help us come up with a decision," Shams said.
State-run PTV quoted a PEMRA spokesman as saying that no meeting was held today and the reported meeting by some private members was "illegal".
Besides Shams, four other private members of the media authority attended the day-long meeting which included Israr Abbasi, Shama Parveen, Zeba Hussain and Fariha Iftikhar.
PEMRA member Abbasi said that one-third members were present during the meeting today.
"The committee, which included Syed Ismail Shah, Pervez Rathore and Israr Abbasi, was tasked to review the Ministry of Defence`s application filed against Geo TV network for levelling allegations against an intelligence agency of Pakistan," Dawn News reported without naming ISI.
Last month, Pakistan`s leading news anchor who works for Geo TV Hamid Mir, who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, had said he faced threats from both non-state and state actors including the powerful spy agency ISI.
Following the attack on Mir, Jang group which owns Geo TV had said, "We also want to bring it on the record that the ISI has been continuously and strongly complaining to our senior editors against some of our senior journalists, particularly against Hamid Mir. We will prove this and many other things at the proper time."