Pakistan suspends TV channel ARY News 'for defamation'

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Pakistani viewers watch television news broadcasts at an electrical store in Karachi, Pakistan on 2 May 2011Image source, AFP
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The suspension of ARY News TV comes four months after GEO TV was briefly taken off air

Pakistan's authorities have suspended a TV channel supporting opposition politician Imran Khan for 15 days for allegedly defaming the judiciary.

ARY News TV was also fined 10m rupees ($97,089; £60,182) by broadcasting regulator Pemra.

It is the second time in four months that regulators have halted broadcasts by a network.

In June, Pemra gave a similar suspension to GEO TV - Pakistan's most watched news channel.

In a statement, the watchdog said ARY News had been "maligning honourable courts and judiciary".

It added that the station had a habit of not complying with Pemra's regulations.

ARY News has allied itself with Mr Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, who both accuse Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of vote-rigging in last year's elections.

Its suspension mirrors that of Geo, Pakistan's largest and most influential TV station, which was suspended for 15 days in June following a defamation row with the powerful ISI intelligence agency.

Pakistan began giving private channels licences in 2002 prompting a media boom. Critical reportage on the army and judiciary, however, remains a sensitive subject.

Monday's decision has been condemned by local and international human rights groups.