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Pakistan Suspends License of Leading News Channel (NYT)
The Pakistani government on Friday suspended the broadcasting license of Geo News, a popular television channel, in a major escalation of Geo’s dispute with the country’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency. WSJ Pakistan’s media regulator said it would temporarily take off the air the country’s largest news channel after it aired allegations that the spy agency was behind the shooting in April of the channel’s star anchor. Bloomberg The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority ordered the closure of Geo for two weeks and imposed a 10 million rupee fine, according to a statement. “The authority further decided that in case of repeated violation by the said licensee, proceedings for the revocation of the license shall be initiated,” according to the statement. Al Jazeera Geo stayed on the air for a few hours and reported the news of its own license being pulled along with a graphic showing the Geo News logo wrapped in chains before the signal was cut. Rights group Amnesty International described the ban as a “politically motivated attack on freedom of expression and the media.” BBC News Geo argues that it has already publicly apologized to the ISI for its coverage in the aftermath of the shooting of Hamid Mir, one of Pakistan’s best known TV presenters. He was hit six times in the abdomen and legs after his car was fired on by men on motorbikes as he was leaving Karachi airport on April 19. It remains unclear who fired the shots and no group has said it carried out the attack. In May, a group of PEMRA board members had tried to suspend Geo TV’s license on the same issue, but that decision was quickly “disowned” by the regulatory body.