APNS flays setting up of media regulatory authority

KARACHI (PR) – The APNS has strongly flayed the decision of the federal cabinet to set up a media regulatory authority replacing all existing statutory media bodies.

APNS President Hameed Haroon and Secretary General Sarmad Ali expressed concern over the formation of Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority and termed it most regressive measure against the media. They stated that the existing media laws namely; Press Council Ordinance, Press Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance and PEMRA are being annulled which were enacted after protected dialogue and consultation by the government with the media bodies.

The proposed PMRA authority is being formed without any consultation with the stakeholders despite firm assurances by Iftekhar Durrani, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Media and Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain.

The APNS office-bearers have stated that it would be impractical to bring print and electronic i.e. TV, radio, social and digital media under one regulatory authority.

The broadcast and digital media can be brought under one umbrella but print media being different in nature, format and issues arising thereof, cannot be lumped with them. Even, in developing countries, print and electronic media are treated separately, they stated.

The APNS pointed out that the Ministry of Information has not provided the draft of the proposed PMRA but only disclosed some salient features of the new body which include a licensing system to control the media and composition of the authority to administer the media whereas the draconian teeth relating to terms of licensing and punishment of any breach have been concealed.

It seems that the officials of the Ministry of Information have dug out the notorious PPO promulgated by military dictator General Ayub Khan from the dustbin of the history and presented it with the new title which is not acceptable to the media in the country, they added.

The APNS is of the considered opinion that the proposed licensing system and measure intended to tame, control and subjugate the media, are in gross conflict with Article 19 of the Constitution and the basic human rights.

The APNS office-bearers also pointed out that after the 18th Amendment, any legislation in relation to newspapers, books and printing presses has become an exclusive provincial subject and any attempt by the federal government to form such authority would be in contravention to the Constitution of Pakistan.

However, the federal government is trying to bring in e-papers of newspapers in the ambit of this authority and impose its draconian laws on print media indirectly by bypassing the Constitution, they stated.

The APNS urged the federal govt to ensure a meaningful dialogue and consultation with all the stakeholders in the media before setting up the proposed authority.

The APNS also appealed to all democratic forces to raise their voice against the undemocratic and anti-people move of the govt to safeguard the democratic norms in the country, they added.

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