MATV has been rapped by Ofcom for broadcasting a show, which put Pakistan in a negative light in April 2019.
Ofcom received a complaint that ‘Tarz e Hayaat’ was biased against Pakistan. The majority of this 30 minute discussion programme covered the protests that had taken place following a terrorist attack on 12th April 2019 at a fruit and vegetable market in Quetta. The attack was allegedly aimed at minority Shi’a Muslim Hazara community. Ten members of the Hazara community were reported to have been killed in the attack.
After introducing the subject of the recent bomb blast in Quetta, in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, the presenter outlined what had happened. There was then footage of a speaker, the Pakistani human rights activist, Jaleela Haider speaking to a crowd. Footage of the aftermath of the bomb blast was shown with accompanying narration by a reporter. Throughout the segment, there were various critical statements directed at both: the national government of Pakistan, headed by Imran Khan, leader of the political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (“PTI”); and the Balochistan provincial government, which is ruled by a coalition government that includes the PTI.
MATV stressed that the programme was factual and that “if people in authority are not working for the welfare of their own people media has an obligation to raise public awareness”.
MATV stated that it features “6-8 hours of content in the Channel which has [a] direct or indirect link to Pakistan”, adding that that due impartiality is being maintained within a series of programmes and provided Ofcom with copies of the following programmes: an edition of Pakistan in Perspective; an edition of Pakistan Reporter; and an edition of Sarhad Ke Do Rukh (the Licensee did not provide details of when exactly these programmes had been broadcast).
Ofcom concluded that it was concerned that the broadcaster had breached Rule 5.5 on two previous occasions. In light of this breach Ofcom held a meeting with MATV to discuss its compliance in this area.
Ofcom is therefore concerned about this decision of a further breach of the due impartiality rules. It is now putting MATV on notice that if any further similar breaches occur, Ofcom will consider taking further regulatory action.