APNS under fire in Senate body
ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on Tuesday directed the ministry to expedite the process of preparation of draft of amendment to Pemra (Amendment) Act 2007 so that the authority could become stronger and establish its writ more effectively.
The meeting chaired by Senator Kamil Ali Agha was discussing the issue of amendments to Pemra act. Ministry’s Secretary Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera informed the committee that it was a wholesome exercise involving all the stakeholders and the draft prepared so far was at its initial stage. He thanked the committee for its guidance over the possible amendments for making it more effective and assured that the process would be expedited. He said that the regulator had to be independent and effective.
Kamil Ali Agha said that the committee wanted to strengthen Pemra so that it could establish its writ. He said APNS demand rights for the world, but refrain from giving rights. Farhatullah Babar appreciated the ministry and Pemra for realizing the importance of amendment to the act.
He said APNS is so powerful that no news of protest by journalists against non-payment of salaries is published or aired.
Pemra Chairman Absar Alam said that it was the initial draft which was being improved after taking all the stakeholders including Pakistan Broadcasters Association and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists on board.
He said working journalists, who sacrifice their lives, are not given their rights. On the issue of alleged harassment case in Lok Virsa, the committee asked the secretary to look into the matter and if required a committee should be constituted.
Minister of State for IBNH Marriyum Aurangzeb informed the committee after she took over one case of harassment ended at the termination of the officer involved. She said that in the second case involving two PTV anchors, the accused was bailed out by the inquiry committee, as no concrete evidence could be presented before the committee.
She said that in IBNH ministry had made training of all staff mandatory about the law on harassment of women at workplace. She said that the issue of harassment at Lok Virsa would be thoroughly investigated by the ministry and necessary action would be taken as it was not an issue of a female employee but a mindset.
IBNH Secretary Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera sought a week time for looking into the matter and sorting it out. The committee was presented briefing over the advertisements issued by Press Information Department (PID) since 2012. Marriyum Aurangzeb informed the committee that for ending monopoly on the advertisements, bids from new advertising agencies were sought.
She said that Audit Circulation Bureau (ABC) record was being automated which would bring transparency in newspaper circulation record and issuance of advertisements.
Principal Information Officer (PIO) Rao Tehsin Ali Khan said that centralised policy of issuance of advertisement was adopted after the recommendation of the parliamentary committee.
He said that for past two years complete details of the advertisements issued to all newspapers and periodicals were uploaded on the PID website.
About the journalists quota in Bhara Kahu Housing Scheme, the committee was informed that for a total of 62 plots falling indifferent categories, 707 applications were forwarded to the ministry out of which 573 applicants provided all the required details.
Director General Information Service Academy (ISA) Sheraz Lateef said that the Pakistan Television Corporation, Radio Pakistan and Associated Press of Pakistan Corporation (APPC) were included in category of autonomous bodies for which 5 percent quota was allocated.
He said that for media workers plots quota out of 624 applications 558 applicants were found eligible as per criteria.
On the issue of PTV licence fee, outstanding dues from K-Electric, the committee was informed that now the issue had been resolved as out of Rs1.2 billion arrears only Rs330 million were left to be paid.
During discussion on the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi, the committee was informed that the condition of the building was deteriorating. Adviser to PM on National History and Literary Heritage Irfan Siddiqui told that the Sindh High Court had issued directives to the provincial government to hand over the museum to federal government, but the Supreme Court had given a stay order.
He said that as per clause 15 of the 18th Amendment, museums and libraries being funded by federal government were to remain with the Centre but they were devolved. He said as the matter was sub judice, the agenda item should be deferred, so the chairman deferred the matter.
The meeting was attended by Senators Farhatullah Babar, Rubina Khalid, Nehal Hashmi, Karim Dad Khawaja and Dr Ashok Kumar. Senior officers from Ministry of IBNH were also present during the meeting.