ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information on Wednesday expressed reservations over the code of conduct for electronic media, prepared by the government on the orders of the Supreme Court.

The senators criticised the information ministry for not presenting the correct picture before the Supreme Court, and demanded that a review petition be filed.

The senate committee meeting was held here in the Parliament House with Senator Kamil Ali Agha in the chair.

The members were of the view that before preparing the code of conduct the government had not incorporated the inputs taken from the appropriate forum.

Senator Farhatullah Babar of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) asked whether the code of conduct notified on August 19, 2015 was the same which had been finalised by the senate standing committee.

The secretary information Mohammad Azam conceded that the notified code of conduct was not the same draft as approved by the committee. This infuriated the senators including the chairman of the committee.

“This is irresponsible attitude of the government,” senator Kamil Ali Agha said adding, “We formulated the draft code of conduct after discussions and receiving inputs from all the stakeholders including Pemra, but their exercise has been rendered worthless by the information ministry.”

The committee unanimously demanded the chairman of the committee take up the matter with the senate chairman.

“Besides, we will want the information ministry to tell the Supreme Court that the parliamentary body has formulated a comprehensive code of conduct.”

The senators also pointed out that the code of conduct had placed the entire responsibility of monitoring the broadcast content and implementing the code provisions into the hands of channel owners leaving no role for Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

The senators pointed out that Pemra law required the regulatory body to prepare a broad based code of conduct and also implement the same whereas Pemra was not even the part of the committee that prepared the code of conduct.

Taking up the issue of the appointment of Pemra Chairman, the secretary information told the committee that advertisement had been published in the newspapers inviting applications for the post and that the selection process had already started.  — A Reporter

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2015

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