Press Commission to include journalists, Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE)
ISLAMABAD- Chief Executive’s media advisor Javed Jabbar reiterated the government’s commitment to the freedom of expression, underlining that freedom of the press should be institutionalised. He was speaking at a meeting with representatives of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS). He said the government had received a draft for the Press Council from the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and after consultations with both the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) and the CPNE, he would like to move ahead towards a consensus draft.
Referring to views on the mushrooming growth of news agencies as also aired in the national press, Jabbar said the government was aware of the need to frame a mechanism to regulate news agencies. The government, he said, would like to frame that mechanism in consultation with journalist’s bodies, including those representing journalists, the CPNE and the APNS. He hoped that the APNS would cooperate with the government in safeguarding the rights of the regional press.
On the Wage Board Award, he said, “We are bound to respect the law on the Wage Board the court has also passed judgements on that – we want that the Wage Board be processed through mutual consultations and consensus between APNS, working journalist bodies and the government.”
Referring to the settlement of the outstanding advertisement dues for newspapers, he said the chief executive had a firm commitment that irregularities at material level like outstanding dues on part of anybody including the government should be settled as quickly as possible. He appreciated the response of the finance minister and the efforts of secretary and the senior officials of the Information Minister for pursuing the issue successfully.
The advisor said the distribution of advertisement, import control on newsprint and the role of Audit Bureau of Circulation also needed to be discussed and reformed. “We need to discuss and forge a consensus to reduce the government control, wherever possible.”
Jabbar said in view of the important role of the press in an era of rapid changes being brought about by the economy and the fast forwarding technology, “there is need for the formation of a Press Commission to study it with a vision.” The government, he said, intended that a proposal for the formation of the Press Commission was arrived at in consultation with the press representatives by April or May this year. “And further study is carried out for its formation so that all controversial and sensitive issues are referred to it.
Earlier, Information Secretary Khawaja Ijaz Sarwar assured the APNS, representatives that the government would simplify as well as step up the process of disbursement of outstanding dues. He held out government’s firm commitment to the freedom of the press” The government, he said, had received a draft for the proposed Press Council from CPNE President Arif Nizami and was now waiting for a joint draft from APNS and the CPNE for the same.
APNS President Mir Shakil ur Rehman appreciated the Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf, Javed Jabbar and Information Secretary Khawaja Ijaz Sarwar for settling the issue of outstanding ads dues to newspapers. “This is a record amount approved by the government and will help the newspaper industry address the problems facing it.”
APNS Secretary General Arshad Zuberi informed that the Society was working to draft proposals for the formation of a Press Council. He demanded that the Freedom of Information Act be revived and issued so that chief executive’s commitment to freedom of information was translated into reality. Senior Vice President APNS Jamil Athar, Vice President Zia Shahid, Finance Secretary M Aslam Kazi, Joint Secretary Waqar Yousuf Azami and Senior officials of the Ministry of formation attended the meeting.
Source: The News