By Our Reporter
ARY Network is secretly plotting to return to the UK market few weeks after it was banned by the media regulator Office of Communications (Ofcom) over violation of broadcasting codes. The channel has lost £3 million defamation to Geo and Jang Group’s Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman over defamation campaign and had gone into liquidation before the Ofcom took away its license.
It can be revealed that those behind ARY have acquired a company from a media veteran Petra Oblak. The company bought by ARY Network is called the New Vision TV Limited. This company was acquired by Abdul Majeed Shaheen, a close friend of Fayaz Ghafoor (Ex-Chief Operating Officer of ARY Network Limited in the UK). Fayaz Ghafoor applied for bankruptcy after losing case to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who had sued ARY Network Limited and Fayaz Ghafoor, the COO. Fayaz Ghafoor has left the UK fearing action by the bailiffs and subsequently by the police and criminal prosecution.
Both Fayaz Ghafoor (Ex-COO, ARY Network Limited) and Abdul Majeed Shaheen were together Directors in the UK-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (UKPCCI) and ran many projects together.
Its interesting that Abdul Majeed Shaheen has no media background and has been appointed along with another friendly partner Muhammad Afzal as the Director of New Vision TV Limited in February 2017 – few days after of ARY Licenses being revoked by the Ofcom. An ARY insider said that the reason to buy New Vision TV Limited was because it had an existing license from Ofcom and it will be easy for those behind ARY to camouflage behind this license and launch their content in UK. The insider said that ARY Network plans to launch some content through New Vision TV Limited before getting settled and launching full-throttle operation all over again, dodging the Ofcom action.
This week Abdul Majeed Shaheen, a London accountant, held meetings with ARY owner Salman Iqbal, Fayaz Ghafoor and others in ARY to make arrangements for the launch of ARY in the most dubious manner.
Its understood that a change of license name with Ofcom has been applied by New Vision TV Limited and that ARY intends to run its content with 60% of Urdu content from ARY Digital Channel (Entertainment Channel) and 40% of Content from ARY News (with current affairs and news content that led to the defamation case loss and action by Ofcom).
Abdul Majeed Shaheen’s New Vision Limited is calling it content from South Asian region while in reality its content from ARY and they are only hiding behind the veil of Asian Channel to allow them entry into UK.
Sources have said that the Ofcom has already asked for a DVD of this content to review it.
UK media law expert Patrick Cockburn said: “I feel further investigation is required before Ofcom allows the change of license and if its ARY than Ofcom should not grant this discredited broadcaster a license. Ofcom will face lots of problems and headaches because it will become obvious shortly as who is pulling the strings and all roads will lead to the same source: ARY News in Pakistan. If license allowed at this stage then it will be a mockery of justice and Ofcom will be made a laughing stock by the very ARY which violated laws of the UK to such extent that its licenses were revoked.”
ARY has announced in the South Asian Media market that it is going to be coming into the UK market in first or second week of March 2017 and that it would be launching on the Sky Channel 804 which was previously owned by ARY Network Limited and now owned by New Vision TV Limited.
When contacted, Abdul Majeed Shaheen confirmed that he will be “buying” content from ARY Pakistan to show to viewers in Britain. He said he will take action against Ofcom if problems created for him, adding “Ofcom has no right to ask me unnecessary questions”.