The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Monday decided to shut down transmission of Bol News and Bol Entertainment for what it said was their failure to secure security clearance from the interior ministry.
In its meeting today, Pemra was told that it had also revoked the licences of the channel — owned by M/s Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd — in 2017, adding that the matter had been pending before the Sindh High Court until last year.
"Hence, the Pemra reviewed all records, court orders, and notices from the interior ministry and subsequently decided to revoke licences issued to Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd (Bol News and Bol Entertainment) with immediate effect."
The watchdog noted that the licence of Bol Entertainment expired in Dec 2021 and the company did not approach Pemra for its renewal.
Responding to the development, the PTI's official Twitter account said banning the channel would affect thousands of people and their families. "The fascism and censorship we are witnessing today in Pakistan is unprecedented!"
Party chairman Imran Khan said the move was "unacceptable", adding that the government had taken "media and journalists' censorship and persecution to fascistic levels".
Earlier in the day, PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhry claimed that there were reports of a media ban on party chairman Imran. "These 'wise' decisions will lead to increasing division in the country," he said.
Later in the day, senior journalist Kamran Khan said he was supposed to interview Imran on Monday night but "have just been told it can't be aired at any cost".
In January 2021, Pemra had suspended Bol News' licence for 30 days and imposed a Rs1 million fine on it for airing "contemptuous" remarks against judges of the Lahore High Court.
The watchdog says the channel's licence cannot be restored until the interior ministry gives the go-ahead.