PPP slams bill to set up PAPRA
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party has raised strong objections to a proposed bill to set up Press and Publication Regulatory Authority (PAPRA). In a statement on Monday, PPP Information Secretary Sherry Rehman said the party has denounced the regime’s recent move to set up the “Press and Publication Regulatory Authority (PAPRA) to control the media. She condemned the regime’s ulterior motives to streamline and regulate the media industry without any input or consultation from stakeholders. “Our concern is that the bill has already given rise to very valid fears among press circles who also see the draft bill as yet another instrument to control and influence the print media,” she added.
She said despite the government repeated pronouncements on promoting democracy, human rights and press freedoms, its record over the last five years in curbing the independent media has been nothing but harsh and repressive. “There is already a controversy raging over the Pemra Act, just as there is disquiet among the media at the high and unprecedented death toll of journalists over the last four years,” she added.
Sherry Rehman said it is clear that the PAPRA bill is designed to control the print media through a government-dominated authority, which would pave way to curb press freedom.
“There is absolutely no need to introduce a bill or a regulatory authority to determine the correct circulation figure of newspapers, when the Ministry of Information already runs a certifying body called the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC),” she added. She said if the government suspects that an audit has been manipulated, it can easily appoint an auditor of its choice, preferably a renowned firm of chartered accounts, to initiate another audit to establish the correct figures. She said the motives to set up an additional regulatory law which is repressive in nature and which prescribes draconian punishments for offenders makes the whole exercise suspect, she said. “It is clearly aimed at manipulating the press through levers on advertisement revenues which in turn will depend on the recommendations made by this body.”
Source: The News