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Lahore High Court orders probe into suspicious media company

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Lahore High Court orders probe into suspicious media company

The Lahore High Court has ordered probe into a newly launched media group following a PIL filed, that mentions the name of the group as Axact/BOL.

The PIL alleges that the group, which reportedly has a paid up capital of around Rs 6 million, is claiming to be the biggest IT company in Pakistan. According to the PIL, Axact has been offering journalists salaries that many times their current salaries, besides Mercedes Benz cars, scholarships for their children and more.

The PIL also states that Axact, which is the sponsor of a new TV channel, has no known financiers or clients, besides almost 99 per cent of the shareholders are foreigners, whose identities are not known.

The PIL makes several Pakistani government bodies as respondents and alleges that they had overlooked a number of rules while okaying the new media group. These bodies include the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Pakistan Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Interior, federal Investigation Agency, National Accountability Bureau, Federal Bureau of Revenue, State Bank of Pakistan, and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

The PIL also mentions another company, Labbaik, which it claims is a sister concern of Axact sharing the same management. However, the shareholding of Labbaik is shown to be local to meet the legal requirement that broadcast licence can only be held by a company that is owned or controlled locally. Labbaik reportedly acquired two licences from PEMRA, which the PIL alleges, overlooked the law.

One of these licences was for Bol News channel, which was formerly christened Jinnah TV. Interestingly, though the licence for Jinnah TV was acquired in 2008 by the original owners, Asia News Network, the channel is yet to commence its broadcast operations. On April 9, 2013, Asia News applied for change of name of its license from Jinnah TV to Bol News, which was okayed by PEMRA. Then on April 30, 2013, just 10 days before the Pakistan general elections, PEMRA gave written permission for transfer of the Bol News TV licence from Asia News to Labbaik.

The PIL goes on to seek a probe into who the financiers of Axact and Labbaik are and what is the source of their funds.


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