Parliament, not media, can form policies: Kaira -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Parliament, not media, can form policies: Kaira

ISLAMABAD: The media can only give its opinion on the issues of national importance but cannot formulate policies, which is the domain of the elected Parliament.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira said this on Friday while speaking in a television talk-show. He said that the Parliament could take input from media, civil society and other segments of the society but making policies was its prerogative.

“There are two methods to assess the masses’ choice, one is public opinion and the other is election of legislatures,” he added. Replying to a question, Kaira said, “Since the time is purchased by the investors, the private TV channels do not allocate it for various social and public segments of the society, especially the youth.”

However, he said that the PTV was regularly telecasting programmes on various segments of the society, including students and youth.He said that after the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment, the power to issue declarations for newspapers had gone to the districts.

About the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), he said that there were many flaws in the issuance of advertisements to the newspapers and steps were being taken to rectify them.The minister said that it was not fair to expect that the institutions in Pakistan should work on the pattern of advanced countries like the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).

“All over the world, there is a rule that the owners of newspapers are not issued licences for TV channels and vice versa but here the policy of cross media licences was adopted during the previous regime which resulted in the present state of affairs,” he said and added that the present situation could not be handled with force and only time would improve it.

He said during his previous tenure as information minister, he formed a committee headed by Justice (R) Fakharuddin G Ebrahim and that committee prepared a draft code of conduct for the media which could be proved an asset if implemented.

The minister said due to the past experiences, the media houses were always apprehensive about any legislation to regulate them. He dispelled the impression given by a fellow panelist that the government wanted that the anchorpersons should support the government point of view on various issues. “We do not want the anchorpersons to become a party on behalf of the government, what we request them is to remain neutral”, he said and added that unfortunately some of the famous journalists had been tagged as supporters of one party or the other and resultantly their work got affected.

He asked if it was justified that an anchorperson predicted the government’s fall a day before a crucial Supreme Court judgment. Referring to irresponsible journalism by a segment of the media, Kaira recalled that in 2008, when the PPP and its allies took over, a section of the media was predicting the fall of federal capital to Taliban, claiming that they were only 60 kilometers away. He said that during the dictatorial regimes, the constitutional amendments were bulldozed within minutes, but ample time was spent on the amendments carried out recently.

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