Senate panel asks PEMRA to go ahead with DTH launch plan

ISLAMABAD, Nov 21 (APP): Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on Monday asked Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to go ahead with its plan to launch an indigenous Direct to Home (DTH) television system in the country.

The meeting chaired by Senator Kamil Ali Agha was informed by
Chairman PEMRA Absar Alam that last night PEMRA held successful
meeting with cable operators and decided that Pakistani DTH would be
launched in November 2017 by giving time to cable operators for
upgradation of their systems. However, later they announced shut down of cable, he added.

Chairman PEMRA Absar Alam said that cable operators had no problem with illegal Indian DTH and demanded to lift ban on Indian content. But they want abolishment of DTH launch plan by PEMRA, which was strange.

Kamil Ali Agha and other members assured Chairman PEMRA their support in launching of new technology of DTH in the country.

Absar Alam said as per rules all TV channels were bound to make editorial committee functional to ensure self-accountability.

He said that some of the anchor persons did not abide by the decisions of the editorial committee.

He said that PEMRA had taken concrete steps to stop Indian content and Indian movies on the cable, on which Kamil Ali Agha said that the committee appreciated the step taken by PEMRA in the national interest.

He said that PEMRA was not a weak institution as it was taking action against violators across the board. However, he said that sometimes the violators obtain stay from courts by hiring services of senior counsels, which PEMRA could not afford due to lack of required funds.

The committee asked PEMRA to write to Ministry of IB&NH for increasing legal branch funds, and the committee would extend support.

About the TV rating system, the committee suggested that PEMRA should form a mechanism of reliable rating system as present system was not satisfactory.

Absar Alam said that PEMRA had no direct link with the rating and it was issue of PBA and Pakistan Advertisers Association.

Minister of State for IB&NH Marriyum Aurangzeb said that PEMRA
was a regulator and it had not control over the rating system. Regional practices would be followed in this regard, she said.

She assured the committee that her ministry would present a working paper over the issue rating system within two months.

About the issue of indecent programmes during Ramzan, Absar sought two months time for presentation of a report regarding future line of action.

On the issue of missing draft document of code of conduct for electronic media prepared by the Senate Committee in consultation with all stake holders, the committee sought a report from the ministry.

Minister of State for IB&NH Marriyum Aurangzeb assured the committee that her ministry would resolve the matter before next meeting.

On the issue of payment of pensions to LoK Virsa employees, the committee issued directive to take up the matter on humanitarian grounds. It said that in the past two secretaries of IB&NH had promised to resolve the problem, but unfortunately nothing was done.

The minister told the committee that steps were taken to implement the committee’s directive. She said that in Lok Virsa there was no formal CP fund and only a local informal fund was created by the Lok Virsa management and for launch of formal fund approval from the AGPR is required.

Senator Karim Khawaja pointed out that some television channels were
involved in deliberate character assassination of politicians.

Nehal Hashmi pointed out that through a conspiracy characters of the new generation were being destroyed through advertisements being telecast by various tv channels. The committee asked PEMRA to take action against such advertisements.

Marriyum Aurangzeb told the committee that Pakistan National Council of Arts was being activated to engage children and youth.

She said that private sector was being involved for educating the new generation in arts, culture and China Pakistan Economic Corridor at PNCA.

Moreover, special programmes will be organised at PNCA on the occasion of birth anniversary of Qauid-e- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Under the short-term plan, PNCA art and children club was being set up and cultural curriculum was being prepared, she said.

Under the long-term plan, National Film Academy and music academies will be set up and Islamabad Film Festival will be organised, the Minister said.

On the issue of harassment of female PTV anchors, the committee recommended that steps should be taken to make the culprit an example so that nobody should even think of victimization of female colleagues at workplace.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the accused had gone to appeal against Ombudsman’s decision and she would write a letter to the President to request him to expedite the process.

She said that the accused Athar Farooq Buttar had been made an OSD and the decision of his transfer to PTV Academy was wrong.

She said there was zero tolerance for harassment at work place as the government believes in giving more opportunities to women.