No final draft of Pakistan Media Development Authority, no ord being promulgated: Farrukh

ISLAMABAD – Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib on Wednesday said the government had held a wide ranging consultation process with stakeholders on proposed bill of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) to move forward.

Briefing a sub-committee of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on PMDA framework, he said all stakeholders including PBA, APNS, CPNE, major press clubs of the country and PFUJ had been consulted on PMDA framework.

He said the sub-committee convener Marriyum Aurangzeb went to protest camp and termed the PMDA black law. He added that it would have been better if convener of the sub-committee had remained neutral and presented her position at this forum. He said presently there were seven laws and seven organizations including PEMRA, Audit Bureau of Circulation, Press Registrar, Press Council of Pakistan regulating the media and the government has planned to unite them under PMDA umbrella. This would not only reduce budget but also facilitate the process, Farrukh Habib said. He said the Media Complaints Commission would take decision on applications of journalists and media workers connected with electronic, print and digital media in 21 days. The decisions of the Media Complaints Commission could be challenged in the Media Tribunal, he said adding, the Tribunal would also have 21 days to take decisions whereas its decision could only be challenged in the Supreme Court.

Media Complaints Commission will take decision on applications of journalists, media workers in 21 days

He said the Media Complaints Commission would be an independent body which would not be under the influence of PMDA. He said Media Complaints Commission offices would be set up in Lahore, Multan, Sukkur, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad.

Habib said the government had taken guidance from the Ofcom, Singapore and Malaysia’s models of PMDA, adding, there was a need for any such authority as journalists and media workers demanded to resolve their major issues including delay in salaries and wage board.

The state minister said there was no final draft of PMDA and no ordinance was being promulgated in this regard.

Kanwal Shozab said that the sub-committee convener Marriyum Aurangzeb rejected PMDA before consultations due to biasness.

There was a question mark on the role of Marriyum Aurangzeb, Kanwal Shozab commented.

Nafeesa Shah said Kanwal Shozab’s protest was right, as if a sub-committee has been formed on this issue, discussion should be taken according to the legal procedure.

Responding to points raised regarding PMDA in the sub-committee meeting, Minister of State for Information said it was also fake news that an ordinance was being promulgated on Pakistan Media Development Authority (PDMA) or its final draft was ready.

He said sub-committee discussed how to strengthen existing media related laws. ”We want to bring digital media into the tax net, we want to give legal cover to OTT platform”, Farrukh Habib said adding that digital media would not be licenced but have to be registered.

He said constructive discussion on fake news had become need of the hour to counter this menace. He said in the next meeting of the sub-committee, he would also listen to other organizations.

Marriyum Aurangzeb expressed the hope that Journalists and Media Professionals Protection Bill would be passed by the Standing Committee on Human Rights soon. She said all stakeholders should send their suggestions in writing to the Secretariat by September 21.

President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Professionals, Pervez Shaukat said in Pakistani media, there was no law for hiring and firing of media workers. Journalists and media workers had been deprived of their salaries for last 10 months, said Pervez Shaukat adding that suddenly workers were fired from media houses and barred from entering into the office.

Source: The Nation

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