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Geo TV 'Allowed Back On Air' After Talks With Military

The control room of the Geo News television channel in Karachi on April 11.
The control room of the Geo News television channel in Karachi on April 11.

Two sources at Geo TV, Pakistan's largest television network, say the station has been allowed back on the air in some areas after talks with the military on demands that it make changes in political coverage, Reuters reports.

Two sources, identified by Reuters on April 18 as employees of the Jang Group of Newspapers, Geo's parent company, said the network had reluctantly agreed to most of the military's demands, although they added that there was no final deal and the situation remained fluid.

The head of Geo, Mir Ibrahim Rahman, on April 5 said the company's broadcasts had been blocked in about 80 percent of the country.

Although critics speculated that Pakistan's military was behind the moves, Geo officials did not publicly blame military authorities for the disruptions.

However, three major cable operators, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had told Reuters they had pulled the channel after direct instructions from unidentified military officers, even though the military has no legal authority over the media.

Reuters on April 18 said it had seen written instructions by Geo management to staff that listed "key editorial points that we have to manage and implement" to be restored to the airwaves.

The instructions ban negative portrayals of the "establishment" and any allegations the Supreme Court might be interfering in politics. The "establishment" in Pakistan generally refers to the military.

Reuters said Geo TV Network President Imran Aslam would not respond to answer questions about any possible military involvement in the shutdown or whether any deal had been made.

Based on reporting by Reuters and The New York Times

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