Pakistani regulator suspends Geo News

New York, June 6, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a decision today by Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to suspend the license of Geo News. The regulator said if the channel does not pay a fine of 10 million rupees (US$100,000) by the end of the 15-day suspension, it will remain off the air, according to news reports.

“We are troubled by the decision by Pakistan’s regulator to suspend Geo News’ license,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The move to shut down one of Pakistan’s largest media outlets is short-sighted and politically motivated, and runs counter to the spirit of the commitments Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made to CPJ.”

A CPJ delegation met with Sharif in March and secured commitments to combat risks to journalists in Pakistan. Since then, however, violence against journalists has escalated, with shootings, attacks, and threats. Following an assassination attempt on Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir in April, tension escalated when Geo TV broadcast allegations that the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) was involved in the shooting, allegations the ISI denied. Pakistan’s Defense Ministry brought a complaint against Geo for “undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image” of the ISI. Today, Geo filed its own defamation lawsuit against the ISI for accusing it of being anti-state, reports said.