'Media should promote tolerance' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Media should promote tolerance’

ISLAMABAD: Media should promote tolerance, democratic culture, and respect for human rights and should win the hearts and minds of the people to isolate terrorists and extremists, participants of a Media Roundtable Conference held on November 29-30 said in a resolution on Sunday.

They appreciated the initiative taken by South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) and Pakistan Media Commission (PMC) to have arranged the dialogue within the media and with the participation from the civil society.

“Both electronic and print media must strengthen the institution of editorial, quality control and social responsibility while strictly adhering to voluntarily following a code of ethics recognised by leading media bodies and appointment of knowledgeable and independent ombudsman in each media outlet,” the resolution said.

The participants called for the respect for privacy and strict avoidance of defamation, contempt, scandalisation and blackmailing. “A journalist must not personally attack another journalist and respect friendly polemics and debate,” they said in the resolution.

The resolution said there was “no room for terrorists attacking our citizens, mosques, imambargahs, hospitals, schools and citizens on whatever pretext”.

Promoting debate: The participants of the conference hailed the electronic media for having expanded its space, reach and content, promoting pluralism and debate on various policy issues and expanding the scope of freedom of expression and citizen’s right to know. They also appreciated the alertness of media to rapidly changing geo-political situation. They paid homage to the courage and steadfastness being shown by journalists in the conflict-ridden regions and also some of those who have taken great risks in exposing crimes against women and wrongs in certain prohibited areas to reporting. The participants lauded the government’s adoption of the proposed Draft Information Law and withdrawal of amendments to the PEMRA laws. But they were concerned that other media ordinances issued by the Musharraf administration are not being amended as proposed by SAFMA and other media bodies.

They also expressed concern over mixing of news coverage with opinion, excessive reliance on rhetoric rather than facts, the erosion and neglect of editorial and quality control in most current affairs programmes and the news coverage, and ejection or marginalisation of editors and editorial control and independence. The resolution said the participants were also concerned about the mismatch of so-called expert opinion with the excessive induction of clerics and absence of professional excellence, absence of sufficient investment in research, analysis, skills and specialisation and overwhelming focus on politics and frivolous debates instead of programmes of public interest and consciousness raising.

Media in India and Pakistan were crossing their limits while promoting tension and misunderstanding between the two neighbours, they said. The participants of the roundtable conference condemned the harassment of media organisations by extremists and non-state actors.

They also condemned incitement to violence in some programmes and by some media persons against religious sects and minorities and their media colleagues, and a lack of respect for the privacy of individuals and the defamatory slangs and accusations being hurled at leaders and citizens. The resolution said the participants were concerned about the concentration and emergence of monopolies in the media ownership and PEMRA policy of bidding that prohibits freedom of expression and diversity, and about the lack of social concern by the corporate sector and advertising agencies. They also expressed concern over excessive advertisements during prime time programmes beyond the internationally prescribed limits on ads.
Source: Daily Times
Date:12/1/2008