ISLAMABAD, Jan 25 (APP):Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Saturday underlined the need for devising an effective mechanism to ensure protecting rights of media workers in collaboration with all stakeholders.

She was talking to media persons after visiting the residence of a private TV’s deceased cameraman Fayyaz Ahmed here, who was passing through financial crisis and died of heart attack a few days ago.

Appreciating professionalism and dutifulness of the deceased in hard time, she sympathized with members of the bereaved family and assured the government’s full assistance in mitigating their financial woos.

The SAPM said the private TV management and the government had decided to give a compensation of Rs 1 million to the bereaved family.

Besides, a brother of deceased would be given employment in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, while the government would also arrange a residence under the media workers/government housing scheme and enroll the family in the Benazir Income Support Programme.

“Now, the time has come to revisit the comprehensive and long term implementation plan for resolving the issues faced by media workers like Fayyaz,” the SAPM said, adding it was a collective responsibility to protect rights of all media workers including journalists.

“Protecting their rights is our responsibility and top priority of Prime Minister Imran Khan.”
She said it was regrettable that Fayyaz performed his duties diligently but got wages after his death, describing it an alarming situation and against the Islamic philosophy.

Dr Firdous vowed to bridge the gap between ‘employee and employer’ by getting together all stakeholders including journalist bodies, representatives of media workers and the government at one forum.

“It will help find solution of the problems confronted by the workers and [media] owners,” she said, adding the prevailing social and economic situation in private sector needed a ‘minute observation’ and finalizing a ‘road map’ in consultation with all stakeholders to solve the problems. Under which, she also suggested to devise a system of reward and punishment to ensure fair-play.

She also stressed that the regulators like Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) should proactively play their ‘defined role’ as per law to streamline the matters related to media workers.

Special Assistant Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan appreciated the journalist community representatives for highlighting the issue and said all journalist bodies had effectively raised the voice for cameraman Fayyaz Ahmed.

She said a permanent solution of the issue should be found. “We will have to devise a comprehensive policy and mechanism to avoid such episodes in future,” she added.

She said a meeting of all stakeholders would be held on Monday to discuss the issues of media workers.

In the meeting, the SAPM said, media channels would be asked to share data about the registered employees, having details of all those who were getting salaries on time and those whose salaries were pending.

While, the government would share information about the payment being given to the channels under its support programme, exposing those saying they got nothing from the government.

She also dispelled the impression that the government had stopped giving advertisements to some channels and said a comprehensive advertisement policy would be devised, protecting rights of the workers.

Presently, she said about 100 channels were operating in the country and thousands of peoples’ employment was associated with them.

Dr Firdous said the government had the right to ask the channels, whom it issued advertisements, that why they were not releasing employees’ salaries.

She said almost 15 percent advertisements of the channels belonged to government, while 85 percent ads were from the private sectors.

The SAPM also expressed deep grief over the deaths and destruction caused by the deadly earthquake in Turkey and said, “We are family member of Turkey. The government and people of Pakistan share the grief with their Turkish brethren and stand by them.”