Pakistan-based news network Geo TV has claimed that its news channel has been compelled to go off-air in most parts of the country. While many reports claim that the Pakistani Army is behind the blackout of the popular channel, there has been no official word on the same so far.
Speaking to The New York Times, GEO TV chief executive Mir Ibrahim Rahman had said on Thursday, “We are off the air in 80 percent of the country.” According to him, the crackdown on Pakistan’s largest television network began in March with Geo News broadcast being prevented in cantonment areas.
In April, even the sports and entertainment channels of the group were blocked in various parts of the country. The media group executive pointed that the broadcast was stopped in areas that are administered directly by the Pakistani Army. However, the group has not said categorically that the crackdown is being carried out by the Pakistani Army.
The New York Times also quoted a statement in this regard by the Committee to Protect Journalist. It said, “The arbitrary suspension of Geo TV on cable TV is a direct assault on Pakistan’s constitutionally guaranteed right to access information. It’s outrageous that the authorities are either unable to find or too frightened to name those powerful enough to orchestrate the blocking of the news distribution.”
Meanwhile, the Jang Group, the parent group of Geo News, also issued a statement saying that the network has “always embarked upon the journalistic mission to not only furnish facts to the public in line with the principles encompassing the freedom of expression, but also to abide by what is enshrined in the Constitution of the country. Pakistan’s Constitution and law guarantees the fundamental right of access to information to the citizens of Pakistan”.
The statement further said: “The Jang Group requests its viewers/readers that if they cannot watch Geo News on their TV screens or if our channels have somehow been shifted from their original numbers, or if they are deprived of receiving their copies of Daily Jang or/and The News, they can lodge complaints at telephone number: 021-32271133 (daily between 9:00 am and 10:00 pm).
They can also register their complaints (text only) through WhatsApp or SMS on the following numbers: 0312-8802222, 0332-2197855, 0337-3160380. They can also email at email@example.com”