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Proposed media law envisages harsh penalties on TV channels

  • Says censor board will also be dissolved and a new entity, 'Board of Films Censor', will be established in its place
Published August 24, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Chaudhry Monday said that the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) would be authorised to impose a fine of up to Rs250 million on television channels against the current upper limit of Rs1 million in the existing laws.

In an interaction with digital broadcasters here, Fawad said that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) was a rich organisation but unfortunately it did not spend a penny on journalists' training, research and digital media since its formation.

He said that there were currently several laws regulating media in Pakistan, which include: Social media is dealt by the PTA, press is managed by the Press Council, electronic media is dealt by the Pemra, labour regulations are looked after by the Implementation Tribunal for Newspapers Employees (ITNE), while the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) deals with newspaper registrations.

He reiterated that all the laws were being abolished to replace them with one authority named the PMDA. The minister said that there was no provision for criminal liability in the proposed law, but it does have the authority to impose a fine of up to Rs250 million. "At present, organisations obtain a stay order from court in response to a notice and fine imposed by the Pemra," he regretted.

Media organisations reject govt move to establish PMDA

He said the censor board will also be dissolved and a new entity - "Board of Films Censor" - will be established in its place.

He said that a media commission had also been created, which will have four people each from the government and media bodies and it will be headed by a chairman.

"The commission will have the powers to appoint people in the proposed complaint committee and media tribunal," he added. He said that the media tribunal would be able to entertain complaints from media workers, adding that many owners are opposing formation of media tribunals, but the government will go ahead with its plan.

Chaudhry said that a new wing of development had been created in the PMDA aimed at capacity building of journalists as continuous education of news providers was the need of the hour.

He said verdicts by media tribunal would be final and could only be challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The minister insisted that digital media would actually define the media landscape of Pakistan in the future. "However, it doesn't mean that formal media will vanish but the mediums of communication will just change. Content is here to stay," he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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