LAHORE: The federal government is expected to directly regulate the print media industry, by including the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP), Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) and press registrar in the newly-proposed Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA).
According to the organogram of the proposed PMRA, bodies like the press registrar, ABC and PCP will work under the executive director of mass media within the authority whose chairman will report to the Ministry of Information.
“The entire struggle of APNS, CPNE and PFUJ has been to not allow the government to make special laws to regulate print media,” senior journalists, analyst and Pakistan Today Editor Arif Nizami said while commenting on the proposal.
Nizami, during his programme Ho Kya Raha Hai, argued that the media watchdog originally performed its duties under the cabinet division, but the information ministry was planning to take over its handling. “The PMRA chairman will report to the federal minister for information if such a model is implemented which will make things worse for the print media industry,” he said.
In October, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had announced a broad outline of the newly proposed PMRA to oversee print, electronic and social media. A committee was formed for the establishment of PMRA in this regard.
The announcement set alarm bells ringing among stakeholders including journalists who complained that they had not been consulted on the issue and expressed scepticism over the government move that they said could contain media freedom in the country.
Although Nizami praised PM Imran Khan’s move to hold a performance review of all ministers, he pointed out that people will be disappointed if no action is taken in view of the report card of the ministries.
Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed, during his conversation on the show, clarified that he is not interested in the information ministry.
When asked how well the review of his ministry’s performance went, Rasheed commented that he “stood first” in explaining his contribution to the austerity drive, new projects and future roadmap.