Staff Reporter Islamabad
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has said the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority will be authorised to impose a fine (on TV channels) of up to Rs250 million against the current upper limit of Rs1 million in existing laws.
In an interactive session with digital broadcasters on Monday, the minister pointed out that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority was a rich organisation, “but unfortunately it didn’t spend a penny on journalists’ training, research and digital media since its formation.”
He said there were currently seven laws regulating media in Pakistan. “Social media is dealt by the PTA, press is managed by the Press Council, the electronic media is dealt by Pemra, labour regulations are looked after by Implementation Tribunal for Newspapers Employees, while the Audit Bureau of Circulation deals with newspaper registrations.”
He reiterated that all the laws were being abolished to replace them with the one authority, the PMDA.
Fawad added that there was no provision for criminal liability in the proposed law, but “it does have the authority to impose a fine up to Rs250
“Currently, organisations obtain a stay order from court in response to a notice and fine imposed by Pemra,” he regretted.
He said the censor board will also be dissolved and a new entity – ‘Board of Films Censor’ – will be established in its place.
The minister said a media commission had also been created which will have four people each from the government and media bodies and it will be headed by a chairman.
“The commission will have the powers to appoint people in the proposed complaint committee and media tribunal.”
He said the media tribunal would be able to entertain complaints from media workers, adding that “many owners are opposing formation of media tribunals, but the government will go ahead with its plan.”
Chaudhry said a new wing of development had been created in the PMDA aimed at capacity building of journalists as “continuous education” of news providers was the need of the hour.
He said verdicts by media tribunal would be final and could only be challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The minister insisted that digital media would actually define the media landscape of Pakistan in the future.
“However, it doesn’t mean that formal media will vanish but the mediums of communication will just change. Content is here to stay,” he added.