LAHORE – Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday outrightly distanced the PTI government from the proposed ordinance of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) calling it ‘fake news’.
A meeting was arranged with the information minister by Council of the Newspapers Editors (CPNE) headed by Arif Nizami to register its protest against the copy of the PMDA ordinance that has been circulating on social media and get further clarity over the government’s plan to introduce legislation that would regulate print, electronic and social media.
Fawad Chaudhry clarified to members of the CPNE that the PMDA ordinance circulating on social media was ‘fake news’ and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had nothing to do with it.
“All media organisations have been sent the concept paper of the authority which the government plans to set up,” he added.
“Now feedback from media organisations including the CPNE will be sought on it.”
“This makes it necessary to introduce laws to ensure disinformation was not spread through social media, particularly on YouTube.”
“PTI is itself a direct beneficiary of a free and vibrant media and it strongly believes in media freedom. Hence, any law threatening press freedom would not be passed. But having said that, let me also tell you that media regulation is necessary”, he said.
He however added that no proposal or laws regarding regulation would be finalized without the input of all stakeholders from the media. He ensured everyone present that unless there was consensus among all concerned; no recommendation would move forward and become law.
“We will also look at amending or improving existing laws related to regulation of media,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Editor Pakistan Today and President CPNE Arif Nizami endorsed the views expressed by the information minister and said that press freedom in the country had been achieved through years of struggle by the journalist community and any threat to it would be opposed.
He welcomed the Information Minister’s invitation to all relevant stakeholders to become part of the law formation process and hoped that the proposed regulation does not trample upon the right to free speech and expression.
Other participants of the meeting included Mohammad Haider Ameen, Irshad Ahmed Arif, Ayaz Khan, Ijazul Haq, Kazim Khan, Aamir Mehmood, Abdul Rehman Mangrio, Ghulam Nabi Chandio, Hamid Hussain Abidi, Press Information Officer Sohail Ali Khan and PID Lahore DG Shafqat Abbas.