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Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman. – File Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira on Friday said that media can only give its opinion on the issues of national importance but cannot formulate policies, which is the domain of an elected parliament.

Speaking in a television talk-show, the information minister said that the parliament can take input from media, civil society and other segments of the society but making policies is its prerogative.

There are two methods to assess the masses' choice, one is public opinion and the other is election of legislatures, he added.

Replying to a question, Kaira said that since the time is purchased by the investors, the private TV channels do not allocate time for various social and public segments of the society, especially the youth.

He said that after the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment, the power to issue declarations for newspapers has gone to districts.

About the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), he said that there were many flaws in the issuance of advertisements to the newspapers and steps were being taken to rectify them.

The minister said that no body should expect that the institutions in Pakistan should work like advanced countries of the United States and the United Kingdom.

All over the world there is a rule that the owners of newspapers are not issued licenses for TV channels and vica versa but here the policy of cross media licenses was adopted during the previous regime which resulted in the present state of affairs, he said, adding that the present situation could not be handled with force and only time would improve the situation.

He said during his previous tenure as information minister he formed a committee headed by Justice (r) Fakharuddin G Ebrahim which prepared a draft code of conduct for the media which can prove an asset if implemented.

The minister said due to past experiences, the media houses are always apprehensive about any legislation to regulate.

He dispelled the impression given by a fellow panelist that the government wants that the anchor persons should support the government view on various issues. “We do not want the anchor persons to become a party on behalf of the government, what we request them is to remain neutral,” he added.

He said that unfortunately some of the famous journalists have been tagged as supporters of one party or the other which undermines their work.

He asked is it justified that an anchor person predicts the government's fall a day before a crucial Supreme Court judgement.

Referring to irresponsible journalism by a segment of the media, Kaira recalled that in 2008, when the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its allies took over, a section of the media was predicting the fall of Federal Capital to Taliban, claiming they were only 60 kilometers away.

He said that during the dictatorial regimes, the constitutional amendments were bulldozed within minutes, but ample time was spent on the amendments carried out recently.