APNS rejects centralised media policy
Karachi: “The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) strongly rejects the undemocratic and unconstitutional Centralised Media Policy recently notified by the PID and resolves to resist its implementation by all means,” stated a press release of APNS.
“The APNS rejected the contention of the Ministry of Information that with the implementation of the Centralised Policy the demand of the APNS to discourage government advertisements in dummy publications will be fulfilled. It was of the considered opinion that the Policy would rather encourage government ads to non-genuine publications whereas the dissenting press would be arm-twisted by the authorities through denial or curtailment of their due share in the government advertisements.
“The APNS expresses its concern on the overwhelmingly centralised advertisement policy of Federal Government by its recent decision to revive the Centralised Media Policy of 1964, a by-product of the black law, Press and Publications Ordinance (PPO) 1963 enacted by the dictatorial regime of Ayub Khan. The PPO and its by-products aimed at controlling and suppressing the press were categorically rejected by the press and all sections of society. The APNS was surprised to note that during an elected government, the PID adventured to dig out a notorious policy from the archives of the black era in the history of Pakistan. This policy refuses the rights of advertisers to select their media for advertisements and vests all the powers in the hands of a single person, thus placing the survival of newspaper industry at the mercy of the PID. This attempt to provide a lever of advertisements to curb and control the press is not only a negation of all democratic norms but also a gross violation of the Freedom of Press enshrined in the Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan. It is shocking that the present government ventured to revive the dictatorial policy of Ayub period in a democratic dispensation but the APNS believes that in an era of globalisation and communication revolution such attempts are deemed to a complete failure. Not only the APNS but all democratic sections of the society would foil such attempts.
“The APNS has time and again expressed its dissatisfaction over the previous distribution of federal government advertisements and has consistently demanded that the government advertisements system must be judicious, transparent and equitable, so that all genuine and prestigious publications including major groups, smaller and medium sized newspapers and magazines should get their due share in allocation of government advertisements.
“The APNS urges upon the Federal Government to immediately withdraw this policy and hold a dialogue with the APNS to improve the distribution system of government advertisements to ensure the objectivity and transparency in the allocation of government advertisements to publications. The APNS reiterated its demand that the details of release of ads be made available at the website of the Ministry of Information. It insisted that many prestigious and regular publications belonging to smaller and medium sized segments of newspaper industry were denied government advertisements whereas dummy and irregular publications were being dolled out enormous quantum of government advertisements. The APNS strongly believes that the Central Media List must compose of APNS member publications only so that the public money is not wasted by release of government advertisements to dummy and irregular publications on the whims and wishes of the officials at PID. The APNS was of the considered opinion that the objective of government advertising must be spread of message among all sections of the country. The advertiser can be better judge to decide the target audience of the message, rather than an official of PID, the APNS maintained.
“The APNS categorically termed the Notification of PID as a violation of freedom of press enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan. The APNS strongly feels that the policy may badly reflect upon the cordial relations between the government and the press and damage the reputation of the present government which has so far avoided any major action to curb freedom of expression.
“The APNS urges upon the Prime Minister to take immediate notice of the situation and advise the Ministry of Information to withdraw the policy and hold urgent meeting with APNS to evolve a transparent distribution system of Federal Government advertisements to save any deterioration of government press relations.,” the APNS press release concludes.