NA panel for early enactment of Journalists Protection Bill

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ISLAMABAD, July 20 (APP): National Assembly’s Standing
Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Thursday considered “The Protection of Journalists Bill, 2014”.
However, the Bill was deferred with direction to the Information and Broadcasting Division to complete all constitutional and legal requirements, in consultation with Ministry of Law and Justice, Media Organizations and all other stakeholders without further delay as the legislation had already been delayed.
The Committee was of the view that media persons and their
families were vulnerable, therefore, measures from the State were
imperative for their safety and welfare.
The Committee further directed that the final draft Bill
regarding the implementation of the law, up to the extent of
Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), after the consultation with
Ministry of Law and Justice be presented in its next meeting,
positively.
Earlier Director General Internal Publicity Wing, Nasir Jamal
informed the committee that the ministry was planning for early
enactment of the law but now the Law and Justice Division has given
its opinion about the bill.
Secretary IBNH Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera said that the
welfare of the journalists was top most priority of the
government.
He said that the ministry would approach the provinces
for fulfilling the legal requirements as mentioned in the Law and
Justice Division’s reply.
The Committee deferred “The PEMRA (Amendment) Bill, 2017” till
its next meeting, due to the non-availability of Mover of the Bill.
The Chairman of the Committee asked the members to meanwhile give
valuable input.
Chairman PEMRA, Absar Alam told the committee that media houses
may have some of the clauses of the proposed bill which calls for
appointment of retired judges and bureaucrats. The Pakistan
Broadcasters Association (PBA) wants that professors,lawyers and
other members of the civil society should be the members of the
Councils of Complaints (CoC).
He called for taking PBA and bodies of working journalists
like Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on board.
To a question about non-payment of salaries to PTV researchers
for past five months,Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera said he had the
charge of acting Managing Director PTV for three months and his
priority was welfare of the employees especially low-grade staff.
He said that he issued directives that first lower scale employees of
the PTV should get salaries first and for clearance of their
outstanding dues a payment of Rs 89 million was done.
On the issue of researchers, he said that the problem was that no paper work was available,which became a hinderance in disbursement of the said amount.
He said that 74 per cent budget of the PTV was spent on the
salaries and perks of its human resource which has made very
difficult for it make arrangements for production and purchase of
new dramas and programmes.
The committee was also given a detailed briefing on the
performance and working of Shalimar Recording and Broadcasting
Company.
The committee was informed that SRBC has sold its airtime to
Star Sports International (SSI) in 2005 for three years. However in
2007 they developed differences and legal battle started and the SSI
got stay from the court.
Later the case went to Lahore High Court for arbitration but
the two parties reached out of court settlement and the outstanding
dues of SRBC have been cleared by the SSI.
The committee recommended that next time open bidding should
be done for sale of airtime of the SRBC so that the process should
be done in a transparent manner.
Secretary IBNH told the committee that as there was no
children channel in Pakistan a proposal was being considered to
launch a full-fledged children channel.
Moreover he said there was another proposal to launch another sports channel with one dedicated channel for cricket and one for other sports.
He said that this year PTV earned Rs.1.1 billion profit due to
ICC Champions trophy and Ramazan Transmission.
The meeting of the committee was chaired by Pir Muhammad Aslam
Bodla,MNA .The meeting was attended by MNAs; Malik Shakir Bashir
Awan, Mian Muhammad Farooq, Tahir Iqbal Ch,Parveen Masood Bhatti,
Zeb Jaffar, Ch. Muhammad Tufail, Syed Amir Ali Shah Jamote, Belum
Hasnain, Muhammad Azhar Jadoon, Saman Sultana Jaffri, Naeema Kishwer Khan, Secretary Information and Broadcasting Division and heads of the concerned departments.