At the initiative of Reporters Without Borders, TV news executives and editors around the world have come out in support of the privately-owned Pakistani TV news stations that had been banned from broadcasting. In a joint statement, they have condemned the fact that "millions of Pakistanis have been deprived of independent news" since the declaration of a state of emergency on 3 November.
"We, executives and editors of TV stations in Europe, Asia and the Americas, call on President Pervez Musharraf to immediately rescind this decision, which is contrary to free enterprise and the freedom to report the news, and we express our solidarity with the Pakistani TV stations and their staff," they said.
The signatories include Mark Wood, the chief executive of Britain’s ITN, Chuck Lustig, the foreign news director of ABC News in the United States, Torsten Rossmann, the head of the executive board of Germany’s N24, Jörg Harzem, N24’s chief editor, Nik Niethammer, the chief editor of Germany’s Sat.1 and Guillaume Dubois, the deputy director-general of France’s BFMTV.
They also include Peter Kloeppel, the news editor of Germany’s RTL, Yves Bigot, the regional service director of Belgium’s RTBF, Saad Mohseni, the chairman of Afghanistan’s Moby Media Group, which operates Tolo TV, Stéphane Rosenblatt, the head of the Belgian station RTL-TVI, and Gilles Marchant, the head of the Swiss TV station TSR.
The ban on cable distribution for the privately-owned TV stations was lifted yesterday for two of the stations, Aaj TV and DawnNews, but Aaj TV was forced to drop two of its talk-shows. The government has also imposed a new broadcast media law and a code of conduct for the TV stations.