ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said setting up of a unified body to regulate and monitor all mainstream and social media was the need of the hour.
However, media organisations have rejected the idea of establishing the Pakistan Media Development Authority.
Briefing the joint meeting of the standing committees on information of both houses - presided over by Senator Faisal Javed and MNA Nasir Khan Musazai - the federal minister said the proposed authority was the need of time, adding that due to loopholes in the existing laws and structure, media owners had not been treating media workers properly for a long time. Members belonging to the PML-N did not attend the meeting.
Mr Chaudhry said media in Pakistan was regulated by seven bodies - Pemra, Press Council Pakistan, Pakistan Telecom Authority, Censor Board, Press Registrar’s Office, Audit Bureau of Circulation and Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees. “But digital media was not regulated,” he added.
He highlighted that the Pakistan Press Council had a budget of Rs50 million but decided only two cases in two years. Similarly he detailed the flaws in Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), stressing on regulating content on social media.
“Media owners were against the proposed law but workers were in its favour,” he added.
Mr Chaudhry said: “It is proposed that all the laws of media regulation will be scrapped to establish a new authority, with the consent of all stakeholders to make matters transparent.”
However, soon after the meeting, a joint statement was issued by APNS, CPNE, PBA, PFUJ and the Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors which rejected the proposed media development authority. They termed PMDA an unconstitutional attempt to frame draconian law to curb freedom of expression and media in the country.
The statement said it was a step to impose state control on all segments of media.
Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2021