Media bodies to be stopped from covering banned outfits
ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is writing letters to the media representative bodies and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) asking private media to avoid carrying the statements of banned outfits.
“This ministry, however, is addressing a letter to the All Pakistan Newspaper Society, Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors, Pakistan Broadcasters Association as well as Pemra to advise their respective private channels and newspapers not to carry the statements of banned outfits’ spokespersons,” according to the concise statement of the ministry submitted in the Balochistan High Court (BHC).
The concise statement has been submitted by Ministry of Information in compliance with the BHC judgement dated April 9, 2013.According to the statement, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in consultation with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), has recently finalized a code of conduct for print & electronic media as well as for the political parties wherein ban has been imposed on hate literature and its propagation which negatively impacts the social and political order in Pakistan.
The Minister for Information and Broadcasting and the Secretary of the Ministry along with Pemra and Federal Press Information Department already held numerous meetings with All Pakistan Newspapers Society and Pakistan Broadcasting Association, bringing them home the importance of restraining the media from publishing and broadcasting the statements and hate material issued by the representatives of banned outfits as per law of the land, it added.
In this regard, the Pemra has specifically imposed financial penalties and a number of channels for violating the terms and conditions of their licenses, whereby they are supposed to observe an acceptable code of conduct as per relevant law, the statement said.
The ministry believes that the organizations banned under Section 11-B of Anti-Terrorism Act-1997 should not be allowed to use print & electronic media for propagation of hate literature and negative material which is considered unlawful under the relevant laws of the land.
This ministry fully supports the directions of the BHC that its orders are implemented in letter and spirit, and the statements of banned outfits as well as the organizations involved in acts of terrorism and subversion are not carried by print & electronic media.
The state media organizations like Pakistan television, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, Associated Press of Pakistan Corporation are not disseminating hate material at all, the statement added.
The rest of the media operates in private sector. The existing media laws do not specifically empower federal government to initiate gag orders to the extent of private sector media. This ministry however is addressing a letter to the All Pakistan Newspaper Society, Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors, Pakistan Broadcasters Association as well as the Pemra to advise their respective private channels and newspapers not to carry the statements of banned outfits’ spokespersons.
The director general Press Information Department of the federal government along with the Pemra have been advised to keep a watch on such channels and newspapers which violate the commonly accepted code of conduct for media, prescribed by the ECP as well as under various media laws of the land.
Admittedly, because of threats to journalists and owners of print & electronic media from banned outfits, it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to function independently. The government however is doing its best to carve a way out of it which is supportive to the independent professional functioning of journalists.
Source: The News