Govt plans to get tough with ‘dummy newspapers’
ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee was informed here on Monday that the government was planning to strictly implement laws to discourage ‘dummy newspapers’ and the circulation declared by newspapers would be linked to their tax filing certificates.
A meeting of the sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, presided over by Senator Mushahidullah Khan, was informed that newspapers were not fulfilling their responsibilities towards their employees.
Officials of the information ministry told the committee that there were around 2,200 newspapers on the Central Media List and “it has been estimated that 1,800 are dummy newspapers”.
The information attracted the attention of chairman, who asked the Information Secretary to explain as to what was the matter of dummy newspapers.
Officials of the information ministry concerned said that several newspapers did not even print 100 copies and a large number of them even printed copies only when they got advertisements. “The main issue is lack of implementation of laws,” Information Secretary Imran Gardezi said.
“We can easily resolve two key issues related to media: the defamatory issue and the liability cases only if existing laws are strictly implemented,” the committee was informed.
Principal Information Officer Rao Tehseen informed the committee that names of around 300 dummy newspapers had been struck off the Central List under the existing laws of the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
“We see many newspapers claiming to have a circulation of 40,000 from the start, but we have asked them to show their tax filing record,” Rao Tehseen said.
Information ministry officials told the committee that there were strong groups and lobbies behind these dummy newspapers not only among departments concerned and journalists’ bodies but also in political circles.
The committee was informed that two small unknown newspapers in the interior of Sindh had been awarded government advertisements worth Rs260 million by the previous government and similar stories had been shared about a prominent activist of the National Press Club, Islamabad.