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All media regulatory authorities to be merged into one top body: information minister

Updated August 29, 2018

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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry talks to the media on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry talks to the media on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday announced that after reviewing the role of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP), it has been decided that all media regulatory authorities will be merged into one top body called the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority.

While speaking to the media, Chaudhry said that in coordination with "our media friends", the government has decided to do away with Pemra and PCP and constitute a new body "which will not only look after electronic media, but also print and cyber media [social media]".

"There should be one regulatory authority to look at all mediums, and the same laws and censors should apply across the board," he added.

According to Chaudhry, this proposal would also save the government's resources. "All authorities will be merged into one body of professionals, which will also include media representatives."

He then referred to the Supreme Court's remarks during a case today regarding media having its own code of ethics, saying that would also be taken into consideration.

"In the coming days, you will see major changes in the information ministry, regulatory bodies, and Pakistan Television (PTV)."

Last week, the information minister had announced that the PTI-led government had lifted political censorship on state-run news organisations.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the minister had said that both PTV and Radio Pakistan would now enjoy complete editorial independence over the content they produce.

The state-run TV channel has since been broadcasting news on opposition parties, and even tweeted criticism of the Punjab chief minister.

The minister has also said that far-reaching changes are being introduced in the information ministry, and expressed confidence that the changes will be visible within the next three months.

Govt advertisements

Chaudhry, during his talk on Wednesday, also said that a media cell was operating from the PM House under the supervision of Maryam Nawaz, controlling allocation of government advertisements allegedly beyond the jurisdiction of the Information Ministry.

"We merely asked about the details of the expenses and the PML-N leaders walked out [from the Senate]," he added. "The previous government was only functioning on the basis of advertisements."

The minister said a review committee has been formed to formulate a policy for government advertisements, adding the prime minister has strictly instructed that state's money will not be used for personal publicity.