Pemra chairman’s appointment summary to be sent to PM by 18th
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on Wednesday was told that the process for the appointment of a full-time chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has been started.
The committee, which met here with Kamil Ali Agha in the chair, was informed by Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Secretary Muhammad Azam that an advertisement had already been published in newspapers for the purpose, interviews (of prospective candidates) would be conducted soon and summary for the appointment of new Pemra chief would be forwarded to the prime minister by September 18.
Discussing the issue of recently notified code of conduct for electronic media the committee members observed that the ministry should have informed the Supreme Court that the matter was in Parliament and should not have presented the code prepared by the committee headed by Prime Minister’s Adviser Irfan Siddiqui.
The information secretary told the committee that the lawyer of Pakistan Broadcasters Association had informed the court that they were not taken on board while finalising the code of conduct. The acting Pemra chairman said that the Supreme Court had given only a few hours to notify the code with the observation in its order that this would be for temporary period till the appointment of a regular Pemra chairman. The committee members expressed concern over delay in getting the Right to Information Bill approved from the cabinet.
The information secretary told the meeting that his ministry had sent the draft bill to the Cabinet Division for its approval. About the issue of bill’s non inclusion in the agenda of recent cabinet meeting, he said that it was not in the ministry’s domain. Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the bill was approved by the standing committee in July last year but it was yet to be presented to the federal cabinet for approval.
The committee also expressed its dissatisfaction over lack of action by Pemra against satellite TV channels violating rules regarding foreign content.
The committee was told by acting Pemra Chairman Kamaluddin Tipu that 10 percent foreign content was allowed under the rules out of which six percent could be Indian content. Whenever a violation was noted by the body, notices were issued and fines were imposed on the respective channels, he added.
Not satisfied with the reply, the committee members called for monitoring of the satellite channels round the clock and present a day-to-day report of the violations to the committee.
They also asked to the ministry that Pemra should advise private channels to increase the number of public service messages and publicise the telephone numbers of Council of Complaints.
On a point raised by Senator Rozi Khan about issuance of call letters for tests and interviews of the candidates, who had applied for jobs in Pakistan Television (PTV) from Quetta, to appear in Karachi, the PTV managing director assured that the candidates from Balochistan would be interviewed in Quetta and not in Karachi.
The meeting was attended by Senators Farhutullah Babar, Dr Ashok Kumar, Rubina Khalid, Rozi Khan, Nihal Hashmi and Mushahidullah Khan. Senior officials from the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage and its attached departments were also present in the meeting.