Active role of community in media suggested
KARACHI – The increasing trend of placing advertisements in print media even by cutting news and articles amounts to breach sanctity of thought, which must be discouraged.
These views were expressed by the former information minister and senior politician, Javed Jabbar, while giving a lecture on “Citizens’ media rights and their responsibilities” in Karachi on July 26.
He strongly advocated active role of community in media to make it the true representative of society. He asserted that the media should be more responsive to public opinion. “The well- reputed journals in advanced countries, receiving thousands of letters daily from readers, very rightly responds to each letter if it demands so,” he said.
To build up public confidence in media and make more interaction with society, he suggested the media professionals to be more transparent in their matters. Regretting that no local radio or television channel has so far given data of their listeners or viewers, he recommended the media owners to make arrangement for the same which would indirectly help building up confidence of public in media.
Besides, he noted that price of newspapers in the country was much higher than those in India, which had limited the readership in Pakistan. He attributed the high price to retailers and said that 40 per cent to 45 per cent share of a newspaper price went to hawkers and middlemen. He was of the view that there should be strong check over the prices.
Javed Jabbar said that all citizens should be given convenient access to all media at reasonable cost. He recommended that citizens should have convenient access to information about identities of persons and organizations with regard to media ownership, management control of media, sources of media funding and other financial aspects of media.
They also should have fair and convenient access to independent and credible mechanisms which enable media to be held accountable for accuracy, fairness and balance, he added.
Besides, he said that citizens should have the right to be given appropriate time and space in media directly or indirectly without any cost in case media content was found inaccurate, misleading or defamatory about any citizen or community.
He was of the view that citizens should be given rights to own and operate non-profit public service media without being obliged to pay auction-based license fee. The idea behind Pemra’s formation was to have a selected community media that should not accept bidding, he disclosed.
Listing the responsibilities of citizens towards media, he said that citizens should help ensure that all media function freely as per the laws of the country in which they were based.
He said that citizens should actively support and demand pluralism in media. The citizens should also originate content and contribute to media content and must not remain passive consumers of media, he added.