Media courts

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DURING an interaction with Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) in Karachi on Tuesday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan floated what could be called a novel idea of the establishment of media courts which she said would speedily resolve issues pertaining to the media industry. She said that the proposed special courts will exclusively hear complaints by the media industry against the government as well as the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and vice versa.
Indeed it goes to the credit of Firdous Ashiq Awan for vocally and persistently speaking for the rights of media workers. In fact, she played the lead role in not only getting cleared the outstanding dues of the media houses which were overdue for a long time but also ensuring that the media workers also get their salaries on time. Her role has been that of a bridge between the media owners and their employees. This really shows how much strong and tough woman from outside has a very soft heart inside who feels for the poor working class. Then, the way Firdous Ashiq Awan is working to bring reforms in public broadcasters including Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Television is unprecedented and really appreciable. As regards her idea of media courts is concerned, we understand that given the proliferation of electronic media, there is need of such specialized courts in order to ensure early disposal of cases pertaining to media. Definitely, this will require an enactment of legislation by Parliament but this should be done after thorough consultations not only amongst the political parties but also other stakeholders including journalists’ bodies. In these courts, media workers and journalists should be allowed to lodge their complaints and cases either these are against the government or the media owners. The legislation should also envisage a provision regarding provision of free legal aid to the media workers who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. We expect that the Special Assistant on Information will start the process towards turning this idea into a reality which indeed will go a long way in ensuring empowerment of journalists and others associated with the media industry.