ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday hosted a lunch in honour of a Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) delegation led by its president, Arif Nizami.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Information Yousaf Baig Mirza, Information Secretary Shafqat Jalil and Principal Information Officer Mian Jahangir Iqbal were also present on the occasion where matters pertaining to media in general, and its freedom in particular, were discussed.
Speaking during the meeting, CPNE President Arif Nizami stressed the need for the promotion of freedom of expression as well as press and termed it critical for democratic stability in the country. “It is also vital for the country to progress,” he added.
Expressing CPNE’s reservations over the federal government’s proposed regulatory authority, Nizami said that print media, under the Newspaper Registration Act, 2000, was already under provincial-territorial jurisdiction, and making any changes to it through any regulatory authority would be inappropriate.
He lauded the government’s efforts for the regulation and an equal as well as transparent distribution of advertisements to the print media industry, while also commending the government’s decision with regard to direct disbursement of newspapers’ dues.
However, Nizami expressed the council’s concern over the abolishing of 25 per cent advertisement quota for local newspapers and the fact that small newspapers were being ignored in larger cities.
Addressing CPNE’s concern, Fawad Ch explained that the government had provided all small and big, local and national newspapers with their rightful shares and the impression to any overlooking was not true.
But still, he added, if there had been any neglect on the Information Ministry’s part, it was ready to compensate for it.
During the meeting, it was agreed upon that 85 per cent of the newspapers’ payments against government advertisements would be cleared through direct payments, while mere a 15 per cent would be paid via ad agencies.
Meanwhile, CPNE Secretary General Dr Jabbar Khattak, thanked the minister, the secretary and all other government officials for discussing CPNE’s standpoint and the points raised by the council.