Government holds consultations with stakeholders for consensus on PMDA: Farrukh

Earthquake: Farrukh grieves over loss of life, property in Balochistan
Earthquake: Farrukh grieves over loss of life, property in Balochistan

ISLAMABAD, Sep 15 (APP):Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib on Wednesday
said the government held a wide ranging consultation process with stakeholders
on proposed bill of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PDMA) to move forward.


While briefing a sub-committee of the National Assembly
Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on PMDA framework,
he said all stakeholders including PBA, APNS, CPNE, major press clubs
of the country and PFUJ have been consulted on PMDA framework.


He said the sub-committee convener Maryam Aurangzeb went
to protest camp and termed the PMDA as black law. He added that it would have
been better if the convener of the sub-committee had remained neutral and
presented her position at this forum.


Farrukh Habib said presently there were seven laws and
seven organizations including PEMRA, Audit Bureau of Circulation,
Press Registrar, Press Council of Pakistan regulating the media and
the government has planned to unite them under PMDA umbrella.

This
would not only reduce the budget but also facilitate the process,
Farrukh Habib said.


The minister said the Media Complaints Commission would
take decision on the applications of journalists and media workers
connected with electronic, print and digital media in 21 days.


The decisions of the Media Complaints Commission could
be challenged in the Media Tribunal, he said adding, the Tribunal
would also have 21 days to take decisions whereas its decision could
only be challenged in the Supreme Court.


He said the Media Complaints Commission would be an
independent body which would not be under the influence of Pakistan Media
Development Authority.


He said Media Complaints Commission offices would
be set up in Lahore, Multan, Sukkur, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad.


Habib said the government has taken guidance from the
Ofcom, Singapore and Malaysia’s models of PMDA, adding, there was a
need for any such authority as journalists and media workers demanded to resolve their major issues including delay in salaries and wage board.


The minister said there was no final draft of PMDA and no
ordinance was being promulgated in this regard.


Kanwal Shozab said that the sub-committee convener Maryam
Aurangzeb rejected PMDA before consultations due to biasness.
There was a question mark on the role of Maryam
Aurangzeb, Kanwal Shozab commented.


Nafeesa Shah said Kanwal Shozab’s protest was right, as if a
sub-committee has been formed on this issue, discussion should be
taken according to the legal procedure.


Responding to points raised regarding PMDA in the sub-committee
meeting, Minister of State for Information said it was also fake news that an ordinance was being promulgated on Pakistan Media Development Authority
(PDMA) or its final draft was ready.


He said the sub-committee discussed how to strengthen the existing
media related laws.


”We want to bring digital media into the tax net, we want to give
legal cover to OTT platform”, Farrukh Habib said adding that digital
media would not be licenced but have to be registered.


He said constructive discussion on fake news had become need of
the hour to counter this menace. The minister said in the next meeting of
the sub-committee, he would also listen to other organizations.


Marriyum Aurangzeb expressed the hope that Journalists and Media
Professionals Protection Bill would be passed by the Standing Committee
on Human Rights soon.


She said all stakeholders should send their suggestions in
writing to the Secretariat by September 21.
President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Professionals, Pervez Shaukat said in Pakistani media, there was no law for hiring and firing of media workers.


Journalists and media workers had been deprived of their salaries
for last 10 months, said Pervez Shaukat adding that suddenly workers
were fired from media houses and barred from entering into the office.

He said, “We do not reject PMDA, we want to discuss its suggestions”.
Mazhar Iqbal said cases were pending in Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees for 10 years.

He said Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) would be a
blessing for journalists and media workers.

Mazhar Iqbal further said for the first time, journalists and
media workers would get a decision on their petitions in 21 days for
non-payment of salaries and non-compliance regarding job contracts after establishment of the authority.

PFUJ President, Iftikhar Mashwani said any law in the interest of journalists
and media workers would be welcomed. He lamented that thousands of
journalists and media workers were fired in last few years.