NA passes PEMRA bill
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday passed the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Bill-2005, giving sweeping powers to the authority amid criticism by the Opposition calling it a black law.
The bill was presented to the house by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting.
The bill empowers PEMRA to seize operations by any licensee or his equipment and premises without warrants, and increases the fine from Rs 1 million to Rs 10 million. The equipment, however, will be returned to a valid licence holder after the authority imposes penalty.
The Opposition suggested 10 amendments to the bill, including the inclusion of public representatives in the authority but the government voted them out. The Opposition also flayed the powers given to police to arrest broadcasters without warrants. The authority has also been empowered to revoke or suspend the licence of the electronic media or distribution service because of failure to pay licence fee, annual renewal fee, contravention of rules and the failure to comply with conditions of the licence.
The Opposition, which apparently opposed the bill, let the government adopt it despite the lack of numerical quorum in the house.