ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on Thursday discussed “the Protection of Journalists Bill, 2014”.
Members of the committee were of the view that media personnel and members of their families were vulnerable to acts of violence. Therefore, measures from the state for their safety and welfare were imperative.
The committee issued directives for finalisation of the bill’s draft after consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice, adding that the draft should be presented in its next meeting.
The meeting was chaired by Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla and attended by Malik Shakir Bashir Awan, Mian Muhammad Farooq, Tahir Iqbal Chaudhry, Parveen Masood Bhatti, Zeb Jaffar, Chaudhry Muhammad Tufail, Syed Amir Ali Shah Jamote, Belum Hasnain, Muhammad Azhar Jadoon, Saman Sultana Jaffri, Naeema Kishwer Khan, the Information and Broadcasting Division secretary and heads of allied departments.
Earlier, the Director General of Internal Publicity Wing, Nasir Jamal, informed the committee that the ministry was looking for an early enactment of the law. He said the Law and Justice Division had given its opinion about the bill.
Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera, Secretary of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage (IBNH), said the welfare of journalists was a priority of the government.
He said the ministry would approach the provinces for fulfilling legal requirements as mentioned in the Law and Justice Division’s reply.
PEMRA BILL: The committee deferred “The Pemra (Amendment) Bill, 2017” till its next meeting due to non-availability of mover of the bill.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the committee asked the members to give their valuable input to the proposed bill.
The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) wants that professors, lawyers and other members of civil society should be made members of the Council of Complaints (CoC). Pemra Chairman Absar Alam called for taking PBA and bodies of working journalists, like Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, on board.
In reply to a question about non-payment of salaries to PTV researchers for the past five months, Secretary Sukhera said he had the charge of the PTV’s acting managing director for only three months and his priority was welfare of the employees, especially low-grade staff members.
On the issue of researchers’ salaries, he said the problem was that no paperwork was available, adding that it had become a hindrance in disbursement of money among them.
The committee was also given a briefing on the performance of Shalimar Recording and Broadcasting Company (SRBC).
It was informed that the SRBC had sold its airtime to Star Sports International in 2005 for three years. However, in 2007 they developed differences and a legal battle started and the SSI got stay from the court.
Later, the case was sent to the Lahore High Court for arbitration but the two parties reached an out of court settlement. Now, the outstanding dues of SRBC have been cleared by the SSI.
The committee recommended that next time open bidding should be done for the sale of airtime of the SRBC so that the process should be done in a transparent manner.
The IBNH secretary told the committee that as there was no children channel in Pakistan a proposal was being considered to launch a full-fledged children channel.
Moreover, he said there was another proposal to launch another sports channel with one dedicated channel for cricket and one for other sports. He said this year PTV earned Rs1.1 billion profit due to ICC Champions trophy and Ramazan Transmission.