Media bodies oppose proposal for regulatory authority

Published June 2, 2021
Media organisations representing publishers, journalists, broadcasters, editors and news directors have rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) Ordinance. — AFP/File
Media organisations representing publishers, journalists, broadcasters, editors and news directors have rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) Ordinance. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Media organisations representing publishers, journalists, broadcasters, editors and news directors have rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) Ordinance, describing the concept as an unconstitutional and draconian law against freedom of press and expression and a step towards imposing state control to regulate all segments of media.

The representative media bodies including All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ, Barna Group), PFUJ (Dastoor Group) and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) in a joint meeting were of the unanimous opinion that the proposed PMDA was intended to hinder media freedoms and take control over the media by the top information bureaucracy.

“The concept is an attempt to tighten federal government hold over the media through one draconian authority ignoring the fact that print, digital and electronic media are separate entities each with their own defined features and respective regulatory laws. The move appears as an extension of now defunct Press and Publications Ordinance 1963 (PPO) of Ayub Khan-era to all media platforms with regimental provisions to take over the independent and free media. This has no place in a democratically-elected dispensation,” stated the joint declaration according to a press release issued by APNS executive director Dr Tanvir A. Tahir here on Tuesday.

It was decided at the meeting that the PMDA establishment would be resisted at all levels including legal recourse, protest measures and advertising campaigns to educate the public against this blatant attempt to subjugate and control the media and curtail peoples’ right to know.

In this regard, the representative bodies agreed to form a joint action committee of APNS, PBA, CPNE, PFUJ and AEMEND to decide further actions and seek support from political parties, bar associations, rights organisations and other segments of the civil society to oppose the proposed “attack on media” and urge upon the federal government to immediately withdraw the proposal.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2021

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