ISLAMABAD - National Assembly Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Thursday expressed reservations over delay in “The Protection of Journalists Bill, 2014”.

The committee meeting was held in the chair of Chairman Committee Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla. However, the committee deferred the Bill with direction to the Information and Broadcasting Division to complete all constitutional and legal requirements in consultation with Ministry of Law and Justice, media organisations and all other stakeholders without further delay as the legislation had already been delayed.

The committee said that media persons and their families were vulnerable and measures from the state were imperative for their safety and welfare.

The committee further directed the final draft Bill regarding implementation of the law, up to the extent of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), after consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice be presented in its next meeting positively.

Secretary Information and Broadcasting Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera informed the committee that the welfare of journalists was top most priority of the government.

He said the ministry would approach the provinces for fulfilling the legal requirements as mentioned in the Law and Justice Division’s reply.

The committee deferred “The Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017” till its next meeting, due to the non-availability of mover of the Bill.

Chairman Pemra Absar Alam told the committee that media houses may have some of the clauses of the proposed bill which calls for appointment of retired judges and bureaucrats. The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) wants that professors, lawyers and other members of the civil society should be the members of the Councils of Complaints (CoC). He called for taking PBA and bodies of working journalists like Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on board.

To a question about non-payment of salaries to PTV researchers for past five months, Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera said he had the charge of acting Managing Director PTV for three months and his priority was welfare of the employees especially the low-grade staff.

Sukhera told the committee that as there was no channel for children in Pakistan a proposal was being considered to launch a full-fledged children channel.

Moreover, he said, there was another proposal to launch another sports channel with one dedicated channel for cricket and one for other sports. He said that this year PTV earned Rs1.1 billion profit due to ICC Champions trophy and Ramazan Transmission.

The meeting was attended by MNAs Malik Shakir Bashir Awan, Mian Muhammad Farooq, Tahir Iqbal Ch.Parveen, Masood Bhatti, Zeb Jaffar, Ch. Muhammad Tufail, Syed Amir Ali Shah Jamote, Belum Hasnain.

NOKHAIZ SAHI