Senate panel asks PEMRA to take steps for ensuring sanctity of Ramazan

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ISLAMABAD, April 6 (APP): Senate Standing Committee on
Information,Broadcasting and National Heritage (IBNH) on Thursday
asked Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to
ensure implementation of electronic media code of conduct in light
of sanctity of holy month of Ramadan.
Minister of State for IBNH Marriyum Aurangzeb informed the
committee that for coming Ramadan, a strategy had been evolved to
ensure its sanctity and control unethical content adding guidelines and training was being given to the staff of the channels for this purpose.
She said that internal editorial committees in all news
channels had been activated to ensure compliance of PEMRA code of
conduct, promoting interfaith harmony and human dignity.
To a question, she said PEMRA had no link with the rating
mechanism of the satellite news channels, rather it was domain of
Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications (DEMP).
She said that government of Pakistan was largest advertiser
and there was need to have data regarding rating of the channels as
it was imperative for fixing of rates.
She said that Media Logic was a private party which was rating
the TV channels so far, but now a new policy was being formulated and
concept paper was prepared for this purpose. She said that Pakistan
Telecom Corporation Limited (PTCL) would also be involved in assessment
of ratings.
She said that Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) which monitors
the circulation of the newspapers would be automated soon and a
pilot project has been launched.
To an observation of Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, she said
that there was no restriction of coverage of activities of political
parties from Balochistan.
She said that media was vibrant and enjoyed complete freedom and the government could not think to have any deal with it to restrict
or block coverage of any political party.
She said that there were laws in place, but the issue was lack
of capacity. She said that the government and PEMRA were focussing on
training and capacity building of media persons and Information
Service Academy had prepared a course for that purpose.
The minister appreciated the PEMRA for its proactive role in
stopping indecent content from the TV channels.
She said that there was dearth of children related content of
electronic media, but in coming few months PTV and Radio Pakistan
would start new children-specific programmes.
She said that an update on the matter would be presented to
the committee in next meeting.
The committee expressed its concern over the PTV Board of
Governors decision to give additional powers of Managing Director
(MD) PTV to its Chairman Ataul Haq Qasmi. The committee opined that it
was an illegal decision which should be looked into and action be
taken as per law. The minister assured the committee that she would
look into the matter and if any illegality had been committed,
appropriate action would be taken. She said that process for
appointment of new MD PTV will begin next week and till then the
charge would be given to the secretary IBNH.
While discussing electronic media code of conduct the
committee asked the Ministry to try to find out the copy of the
same. Adviser to PM on National History and Literary Division Irfan
Siddiqui told the committee that the code of conduct was implemented
on the directives of the Supreme Court.
The committee asked PEMRA to ensure its implementation and ask
all the television channels to fully activate editorial monitoring
committees in their respective organizations.
While taking up the issue of transfer of APP contractual
employees from Quetta to Islamabad, the committee asked Sukhera to
look into the matter. The committee also called for regularization
of contractual employees of Pushto, Seraiki and Balochi news services
on the posts rather than making fresh appointments.
Managing Director of APP Muhammad Masood Malik informed the
committee that the Balochi language news were
translated and transmitted to Balochi newspapers and television
channels directly from Islamabad. The transfer of Balochi
language employees to Islamabad was done on purely professional
grounds, he added.
He said that contract employees of Balochi service would be
given preference during the process of regular appointments as the
new candidates will not have the experience required as per
advertisement.
On the issue of payment of pensions to Lok Virsa employees,
Secretary IBNH Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera said that it was an issue of
the poor people and he would settle it on priority basis.
The meeting chaired by Kamil Ali Agha was and attended by
Farahtullah Babar, Nehal Hashmi, Rubina Khalid, Dr Ashok Kumar,
Dr Ghous Bakhsh Niazi, Dr Karim Ahmed Khawaja and Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini.
Senior officials from Ministry of IBNH were also present on the
occasion.