By H.Saqib, Pakistan Express, Jul 13, 2013

Clip_284The Media Commission Report has revealed that among other channels, Geo News has been receiving foreign funding from dubious sources notably from India.

This has confirmed the suspicion that the foreign sources are not just the USA and some countries of Europe but also India.

The blatant bias of some TV Channels and Anchors against the Pakistan Army and the inaction of state regulatory and judicial institutions has been demoralizing for the military and undermined their operational zeal in the conduct of operations against insurgents.

The majority of the people have faith in the military and attributes the ‘inaction’ to executive and judicial bias, which has undermined their credibility and public support.

The Media Commission Report gives an opportunity to redress the error by enacting legislation to outlaw foreign ownership of electronic and print media and to ensure that PEMRA keeps a close watch on dubious or foreign advertising revenues.

Cross ownership of print-electronic media needs to be phased out, accounts of media houses to be audited, submitted to PEMRA, and insolvent media houses closed down. + Usman Khalid+

The calculated leak of Abbotabad Commission Report through Aljazeera has clouded another explosive report of Media Commission.

This report contains revelations by the media regulator, PEMRA and observations of the Commission.

As expected by those closely watching and monitoring the contents of Jang media house, it was revealed that its Channel GeoNews receives foreign funding for its various programs. In its version before the Commission, PEMRA informed that a couple of media houses receive large grants in the form of advertising contracts from overseas sources; one such grant is 20 million British pounds. Some part of this amount may be for paid advertising or sponsorship of a program.

The actual facts are still under the wraps as Geo News is perceived to be very powerful and exercises strong clout in the establishment which in today’s Pakistan.

Why PEMRA is afraid to take any action against Geo?

According to the Report, all or part of this amount is received by an entity which is part of the media group and is used to sponsor non-advertising campaigns.

Any attempt by PEMRA to probe such matters immediately leads to claims that there is an attempt to curb freedom of the media and there is always the recourse to obtaining a stay order if an inquiry is held.

Specifically identifying the programs which received funds from foreign sources, the official statement of the Regulator before the Media Commission says that Zara Socheeya had received sponsorship to the tune of Pounds 20 Million.

Citing another instance of Aman ki Asha the PEMRA officials said the program was being funded by Norwegian NGO named ‘Friends without Borders’. It was found by PEMRA that the footprints lead to Indian sponsors including the Indian state television, the Doordarshan.

The programs stated to have been funded by foreigners deal with contents that are, prima facie, harmless. For instance, who would object to peace with India and people-to-people relations that the media group is promoting?

The Regulator, however, failed to identify that the Indian funding is actually and indirectly meant for those programs which have launched sustained campaign against Pakistan armed forces and security establishment. The armed forces are engaged in a fierce battle against Indian proxies in Balochistan and FATA and also in Karachi. Running anti-army programs by this channel at the moment is like stabbing Pakistan in the back and weakening the resolve of armed forces to fight.