Private radio, TV channels from next month: Jabbar -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Private radio, TV channels from next month: Jabbar

ISLAMABAD- The government would allow operations of private radio and TV channels from next month to liberalise broadcast media network, said Javed Jabbar, Advisor to the Chief Executive on Information and Media Development. Those already owning media unit would also be eligible for the grant of licence, he added while unfolding details of the “framework and policy for privately owned broadcast media.”

He termed the decision to allow private radio and TV channels, without monopoly, as fulfillment of the commitment made to the nation by Chief Executive General Pervaiz Musharraf. “Religion or politics will not be the basis of granting licence for operation of Private channels,” declared Javed.

He ruled out the possibility of fanning sectarian hatred, propagation against national, cultural and religious values and principles of public policy as enshrined in the Constitution and sovereignty, security and integrity of the country by any such channel to be owned in the private sector. “All applicants need to apply afresh in May when the Regulatory Authority for Media Broadcast Organisations (Rambo) is established through an ordinance, and the authority finalises its policy to grant private radio and TV licences under a systematic process,” said the adviser.

Addressing a crowded press conference at the PID auditorium, flanked by Secretary Information Khwaja Ijaz Sarwar and Principal Information Officer (PIO) Ashfaq Gondal, Javed Jabbar said there would be several categories of broadcast stations. Permission to broadcast news by the private channels, however, would rest with the authority. “Newscasting is an expensive business. The government intends to allow specialised channels in different disciplines,” he said. He, however, left many key issues to the Regulatory Authority for Media Broadcasting Organisation (RAMBO), to be headed by an independent eminent person appointed by the chief executive, for a decision. He said it would be open for the private channels to relay, what he claimed, the popular 9:00 p.m. Khabarnama of Pakistan Television (PTV).

He said once the authority is established, there would be no restrictions on dish antennas. The Rambo would consist of chairman and nine members appointed by the president. The chairman would be a person of eminence and integrity. Of the nine members, three would be ex-officio members and the rest having equal male and female representation from the private sector. No person, who had a conflict of interest either in the Rambo, the cabinet or the government Or its immediate family members would be allowed any licence. “If a person dissociates himself from the cabinet, only then can he apply for a licence of private radio or TV channel,” said the adviser to a question. “Since the overwhelming majority is Muslim in this country, nobody will be allowed to run a programme against their feelings. “However, minorities have certain constitutional rights which will be fully observed and implemented,” he said.

Applicant’s standing and financial health, he said, would be looked into at the time of granting licence for broadcast media. The existing official broadcast media, which is 100 per cent owned by the government, would continue to work. All private parties would have to regularise their affairs under the new system. The Rambo would frame rules and make schedule for disposing of applications. No application would be allowed to be kept pending for an indefinite period.

The adviser on Information and Media Development made it clear that any person living abroad, or a foreign company organised under the laws of any foreign government, or a company the majority of whose shares are owned or controlled by foreign nationals or companies whose management control is vested in foreign nationals or companies would not be granted any licence. There would be a Council of Complaints (Coc), to be established by the government within 200 days of the establishment of RAMBO.

The provinces, he said, would have concurrent Powers in allowing or otherwise the establishment of a private radio or TV channels at a certain location, or the grant or refusal of licence to an applicant, as the federal government would invite the representative of a provincial government to seek his views before taking a decision on the issuance, suspension, revocation or cancellation of a licence.
Source: The News
Date:4/8/2000