The UK TV regulator Ofcom has ordered the ban of three channels of Pakistan’s ARY network in Britain following a High Court defamation case brought against the network by a rival.
ARY was sued by rival GEO Television and its owner Mir Shakil-Ur- Rehman after ARY alleged that Mr Rehman was an agent of Israel’s Mossad foreign intelligence service and its Indian counterpart RAW.
The High Court said ARY had failed to substantiate its claims – which the network said were “opinion” and were not “reported as fact” – and ordered the network to pay Mr Rehman £3 million in damages and costs.
ARY had also claimed that Mr Rehman had accepted bribes from governments hostile to Pakistan and branded him a traitor to his country.
It followed a Geo report which attacked ARY’s journalistic practices.
The court found that ARY failed to substantiate any of its claims against Geo and Mr Rehman, which were based on a string of social media reports.
Among the claims made by ARY against Geo TV and its newspaper affiliate Jang Group was that a campaign run in conjunction between Geo, Jang and the Times of India Group – titled ‘Aman Ki Asha’ an aimed at promoting peace between India and Pakistan – was a front to “promote India’s agenda inside Pakistan”.
ARY also claimed that Geo and Mr Rehman had criticised Islamic tenets.
The High Court judge found that ARY’s reporting had been “unrelenting and calculated to arouse hatred towards the Claimant among members of the Pakistani community” in the United Kingdom.
The court also heard that the coverage had led to a number of Geo and Jang employees being physically attacked both in Pakistan and the UK.
Earlier several Pakistani courts had sided with Geo and Mr Rehman.