A short guide to the PEMRA Ordinance

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was established in March 2002 through an Ordinance.

According to the PEMRA Ordinance, the objectives of PEMRA include:

  •  improving standards of information, education, and entertainment;
  • enlarging the choice of people for news, current affairs, and music;
  • improving access of people to mass media at the local and community level;
  • and ensuring accountability by optimizing the free flow of information;

Comprising of thirteen members including the chairman, PEMRA is mandated to issue licenses to the private sector for broadcast media and distribution stations at international, national, provincial, and local level.

PEMRA is authorized under this Ordinance to:

i) issue licenses for broadcast media – radio and television;

ii) issue licenses for distribution systems – Cable TV, MMDS/LMDS, and Direct to Home (DTH) and

iii) regulate the establishment and operation of the licensees.

Power of the Federal Government to issue directives:The Federal Government may, as and when it considers necessary, issue directives to the Authority on matters of policy, and such directives shall be binding on the Authority, and if a question arises whether any matter is a matter of policy or not, the decision of the Federal Government shall be final.

Members of Authority: The Authority shall consist of a Chairman and twelve members to be appointed by the President of Pakistan.The Chairman of the Authority shall be an eminent professional of known integrity and competence having substantial experience in media, business, management, finance, economics or law.

Members of Authority

Out of twelve members one shall be appointed by the Federal Government on full time basis and five shall be eminent citizens chosen to ensure representation of all provinces with expertise in media, law, human rights, and social service. Of the five members from the general public, two members shall be women. Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Secretary, Interior Division, Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Chairman, Central Board of Revenue shall be the ex officio members.The remaining two members shall be appointed by the Federal Government on need basis on the recommendation of the Chairman.

Categories of licences

  • International and National scale stations;
  • Provincial scale broadcast;
  • Local Area or Community based Radio and TV Broadcast;
  • Specific and specialized subjects;
  •  Distribution services; and
  • Uplinking facilities including teleporting and DSNG.
  • Terms and conditions of licence
  • License is obtained through bidding.

In granting the licence PEMRA is under a duty to

  • ensure preservation of the sovereignty, security and integrity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan;
  • ensure preservation of the national, cultural, social and religious values and the principles of public policy as enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan;
  • ensure that all programmes and advertisements do not contain or encourage violence, terrorism, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination, sectarianism, extremism, militancy, hatred, pornography, obscenity, vulgarity or other material offensive to commonly accepted standards of decency
  • comply with rules made under this Ordinance;
  • Broadcast programmes in the public interest
  • specified by the Federal Government or the Authority in the manner indicated by the Government or, as the case may be, the Authority,
  • provided that the duration of such mandatory programmes do not exceed ten per cent of the total duration of broadcast or operation by a station in twenty-four hours except if a station chooses to broadcast such content for a longer duration;
  • comply with the codes of programmes and advertisements approved by the Authority and appoint an in-house monitoring committee, under intimation to the Authority, to ensure compliance of the Code
  • not broadcast or distribute any programme or advertisement in violation of copyright or other property right;
  • obtain NOC from Authority before import of any transmitting apparatus for broadcasting, distribution or teleporting operation
  • not sell, transfer or assign any of the rights conferred by the licence without prior written permission of the Authority.

Duration for consideration of the application for a licence

The Authority shall take decision on the application for a licence within one hundred days from the receipt of the application.

Exclusion of monopolies

No person shall be entitled to the benefit of any monopoly or exclusivity in the matter of broadcasting or the establishment and operation of broadcast media or distribution service .Undue concentration of media ownership is not created in any city, town or area and the country as a whole

Licence, application, issuance, refusal and validity.

1-Authority shall hold public hearings in the respective provincial capitals of each Province

2-Each application shall be accompanied by such fee as the Authority may prescribe.

3-A licence shall be valid for a period of five, ten or fifteen years subject to payment of the annual fee prescribed from time to time.

4-The Authority may renew a licence on such terms and conditions

Certain persons/companies who may not to be granted licence by PEMRA

1-a person who is not a citizen of Pakistan or resident in Pakistan;

2-a foreign company organized under the laws of any foreign government

3-a company the majority of whose shares are owned or controlled by foreign nationals or companies whose management or control is vested in foreign nationals or companies

4-any person funded or sponsored by a foreign government or organization

Council of Complaints

The Councils of Complaints at Islamabad, the Provincial capitals and also at such other places as the Federal Government may determine, receive and review complaints against any aspects of programmes broadcast or distributed by a station.The Councils shall have the powers to summon a licensee against whom a complaint has been made and call for his explanation regarding any matter relating to its operation.The Councils may recommend to the Authority appropriate action of censure, fine against a broadcast or CTV station or licensee for violation of the codes of programme content and advertisements

Prohibition of broadcast media or distribution service operation

The Authority shall by order in writing, giving reasons therefore, prohibit any broadcast media or distribution service operator from broadcasting or re-broadcasting or distributing any programme or advertisement if :

(a)it is against the ideology of Pakistan or

(b)is likely to create hatred among the people

Prohibition of broadcast media or distribution service operation

1-is prejudicial to the maintenance of law or order

2-is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility

3-endangers national security

4-Is pornographic, obscene or vulgar or is offensive to the commonly accepted standards of decency

5-engaging in any practice which amounts to abuse of media power by harming the legitimate interests of another licensee or other person.

Power to authorize inspection

A broadcast media station or distribution service premisesshall, at all reasonable times, be open to inspection by an authorized officer under sub-section (1) and the licensee shall provide such officer with every assistance and facility in performing his dutiesThe authorized officer shall, within forty-eight hours of the inspection, submit his inspection report to the Authority.

Power to vary conditions, suspend or revoke the licence

PEMRA can suspend, revoke or vary a licene if the licensee has failed to pay any fee (Suspend), contravened any provision of this Ordinance or licensee has failed to comply with any condition of the licence (Revoke), or the licensee is a company, and its shareholders have transferred a majority of the shares.PEMRA Authority may vary any of the terms and conditions of the licence where it deems that such variation is in the public interest

Appeals

The aggrieved company or individual can, within thirty days of the receipt of such decision or order, refer an appeal to the High Court

Offences and penalties

Any broadcast media or distribution service operator or person who violates any of the provisions of the Ordinance shall be guilty of an offence punishable with a fine which may extend to tenmillion rupees.Repeating the violation or abetment, is anoffence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.Where the violation is made by a person who does not hold a licence, such violation shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to four years, or with fine, or with both, in addition to the confiscation of the equipment used in the commission of the act.Whosoever damages, removes, tampers with or commits theft of any equipment of a broadcast media, will be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or both.

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