The Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP ) board meeting held under the chairmanship of its president Ehsan Ahmed Sehar has turned down the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) unanimously.
RMNP called PMDA “an unconstitutional and draconian law against the freedom of press and expression.RMNP board meeting believes that the proposal is aimed at tightening the Centre’s control over the media through a single platform, ignoring the fact that each of the print, electronic and social media are separate entities having their own defined features. The move to bring [them] under state control smacks of an authoritarian streak that should have no place in democratically elected dispensation, RMNP statement said.
It was stated that the” proposed legislation would not only deprive journalists and media organisations of the press freedom but would also deprive civil society, students, lawyers, teachers, law makers,trsde unions,political,religious activists and in fact 220 million population of Pakistan of their basic rights.
Participants of the meeting while expressing their views said the freedom press in Pakistan in under threat as the PTI government lead by Premier Imran Khan is poised to place more curbs by introducing so-called new law Pakistan Media development Authority(PMDA).They further said the PMDA law would grant new unchecked powers to the government-controlled regulator by setting up special “media tribunals” that will have the power to impose steep fines for media organizations and journalists who violate its code of conduct or publish content it deems to be “fake news.” The proposed law would also increase government control by allowing government officials to be appointed to key positions. The media regulatory framework in Pakistan does need to be amended – not to centralize more powers in government censors, but to create independent media regulators dedicated to protecting free expression. With journalists under relentless attack for doing their jobs, the Pakistan government needs to stop trying to control media and instead start protecting media freedom, they demanded.
Press Freedom Coordinator RMNP Ijaz Ahmed Khan advocate cited RMNP annual press freedom report which says that the government has circumvented articles 19 and 19A of the Constitution, 1973, by suppressing, imposing censorship, using PEMRA, issuing advices and intimidating by use of force the media in Pakistan.
South Asia Monitor publishes RMNP press release