ISLAMABAD, June 6 (UPI) -- Geo News, Pakistan's dominant news channel, had its broadcasting license suspended by the government Friday, in result of its dispute with the country's intelligence agency.
Although based in Dubai, Geo News is aimed at viewers in Pakistan and is broadcast in Urdu, the language spoken by most Pakistanis. The country's Electronic Media Regulatory Authority said a $104,000 fine was imposed and the channel would be off the air for 15 days.
The dispute started with accusations broadcast that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had a part in an Apr. 19 attack on a Geo News journalist, Hamid Mir. It quickly accelerated into a confrontation seen as an assault on freedom of the press, as well as a growing divide between Pakistan's military and civilian leaders.
Television station managers reported their revenues have declined in the past month and claim their four vehicles have been burned in different cities. A journalist in the city of Multan said he was beaten and called a traitor by unidentified people. Some cable operators pulled Geo News from its broadcasting lineup before the suspension, presumably under pressure by the military.
Pakistani journalists feel the dispute is a sign the military intends a clamp down on media.