ISLAMABAD - Officials of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) told the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting yesterday that they had not asked the television channels to censor the activities of opposition leaders.

PEMRA Chairman Saleem Baig while sharing figures of coverage patterns of television channels, claimed that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his party leaders were disproportionately getting more coverage than others.

Faisal Javed chaired the committee meeting here at the Parliament House. 

Opposition senators Pervaiz Rashid and Moula Bux Chandio raised the issue of non-coverage of leaders of opposition parties by television channels, alleging that the interviews and speeches of Asif Ali Zardari, Maryam Nawaz and Maulana Fazlur Rehman were being censored. 

The PEMRA chairman said the channels were giving 46 percent of their time for current affairs to Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his party members nowadays. All the activities of Maulana Fazl were being aired, he added.

The opposition senators left the meeting early saying they were not satisfied with the replies of PEMRA chairman.  The chairman committee directed that PEMRA should ensure that cable operators give first four positions in their catalogue to the Pakistan Television. 

He told the PEMRA officials that the owners of FM radio channels were leaving their businesses complaining about heavy licence fees.

The PEMRA official informed the committee that the licences ofo television channels were renewed after 15 years and those of radio channels after 10 years. PEMRA had issued licences to radio channels according to market determined prices, he added. 

Senator Anwar ul Haq Karar said radio channel licence holders should submit their financial statements. He said the television channels were not bound to air the rallies of political parties for hours. 

PTV Managing Director Aamer Manzoor told the committee that the Pakistan Television still could not pay off remaining pension dues of Rs 1.2 billion to its retired workers due to serious financial crunch.

Later, the committee chairman held an in-camera session on the affairs of state broadcaster Pakistan Television.