Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Monday launched "Code of Conduct: A Collective Responsibility" with the collaboration of media houses to improve the performance of the PEMRA with an open discussion on Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015 to bridge the gap between the regulatory authority and its relevant stakeholders.
Renowned anchors, journalists and media persons discussed in detail the scope and role of PEMRA and its Code of Conduct 2015 and importance of self-accountability by media houses and anchorpersons. The speakers highlighted the need for responsible reporting and content-check at the newsroom level. The launching ceremony was divided into panel discussions, which were addressed by the noted anchors and media persons and attended by a large number of journalists, members of civil society, reporters and students.
While discussing the code of conduct with respect to media freedom and responsibility, Murtaza Solangi, a journalist and also a panellist for the event, said whether it is state-run or a private channel, media is free and responsible for the information it is disseminating among the public; thus, it has to be according to public interest.
He further said the media is becoming a business and political tool where selective information is disseminated serving the interests of particular groups, including political parties and business elites. Cooperative ownership of media by working journalists is need of the hour, he added.
Advocate Ali Gillani, another panellist, highlighted the legal point, saying that code of conduct is a part of ordinance, which should be enforced and must not be taken as voluntary step. Once it's been practice, yellow journalism will get out of the news, he added.
The code of conduct comes from cultural and social values of society, Matiullah Jan, a journalist said. He said responsibility lies not only with a single individual, but it is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders as it shapes the public opinion, thus before airing any piece of information, it is a must to go through a research process to authenticate the credibility of news.
Another journalist, Amber Shamsi, said that media houses should have their code of conduct and training should be given to the journalists and news reporters accordingly, so that sensationalism just for the sake of ratings must be avoided. PEMRA General Manager Operations, Tahir Sheikh said that most of the complaints PEMRA receives are against the news and current affairs and the public expects a prompt action against them.
With respect to social media, Hamid Mir said that social media has made electronic media vigilant and it develops pressure on electronic media and it had to go prompt sometimes even without any homework. Fareeha Idrees, however, said that a sense has developed although Cyber Law lacks its implementation. Saleem Safi said there should be a check and balance on every media house.
Shaukat Paracha regretted that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and South Punjab population are never taken into confidence, while determining the rating of a particular TV channel. Earlier, addressing the participants, Chairman PEMRA Absar Alam said the purpose of the launch was to hold an open discussion on Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015 and get feedback from the relevant stakeholders on improving the regulatory functions of the PEMRA and to bridge the gap between regulatory authority and relevant stakeholders. He maintained that in the next few months, PEMRA teams would visit all the four provinces for these interactive sessions on Electronic Media Code of Conduct and press clubs will also be involved in this process.