Karachi (PR) - The All Pakistan Newspapers Society appreciates that the government is contemplating to reform present structure of state-managed media bodies. However, the proposed merger of various media regulatory authorities into Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority would be problematic and counter-productive as the Press Council has been formed as a voluntary organisation whereas Pemra is a regulatory body formed by the government with a different role.

APNS President Hameed Haroon and secretary general Sarmad said that any law or amendment, if required, should be undertaken in consultation with the APNS and other stakeholders. The APNS office-bearers recalled that the previous government had also proposed a law which was strongly opposed by the media organisations, as it affected freedom of press won by the media after a prolonged and protracted struggle. They stated that in the last year of the previous government, Ministry of Information had dug out notorious law promulgated by military dictator General Ayub Khan from the dustbin of history and presented it to the last government with a new title. However, on the strong protest of media organizations, the proposed law was withdrawn.

“The APNS is of the considered opinion that any proposed law if it contravenes the provisions of 18th Amendment and the freedom of Press as enshrined in Article 19 and 19A of the Constitution of Pakistan will not be acceptable to the media,” they said. The APNS also pointed out that after the 18th Amendment, legislation in relation to newspapers, books and printing presses has become an exclusive provincial subject.

The APNS hoped that the new government will ensure a meaningful consultation with the stakeholders in the media before considering any structural changes in state-managed media bodies. The APNS office-bearers were confident that Prime Minister Imran Khan will not support enactment of any law that is inconsistent with Freedom of Press and Expression.