‘Free public service broadcast from govt influence’
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By: Zeeshan Azmat
Karachi: Public service broadcast should be free from government influence, said the former federal information minister on Saturday.
Speaking as the chief guest at a seminar titled ‘Media Ethics: Challenges and Issues’, Javed Jabbar said changes are required in the media and the country’s foreign policy.
The seminar was organised by Sindh Madrassatul Islam University’s (SMIU) Department of Media Studies.
Jabbar said Pakistan is in the process of change and independent thinking is a must for progress.
He stressed relations between Pakistan and India must be better, but “India is not reciprocating because Pakistani films and dramas are not aired in India”.
He said some problems were created by cross-ownership because “if a person runs a TV channel as well as a newspaper, then the channel and the newspaper will not be independent”.
Similarly, he added, almost every citizen knows what salary and privileges judges receive, but “no one knows how much channel and newspaper owners earn”.
He said ordinary people should be allowed shares in media companies, which shall make them public property and “they will work honestly and independently”.
Apart from that, he added, people should play a constructive role as watchdogs. “Subjectivity, partisanship and selectivity are in the nature of the media, but reality is larger than them.”
He said no one heard Benazir Bhutto’s name on the state-controlled television or radio between July 5, 1977 and August 17, 1988. “Only Zia-ul-Haq appeared on these media daily.”
After the 1988 elections, people started hearing Bhutto’s name again, but the restrictions could not make any difference in people’s opinion regarding her, he added.
Jabbar said that interpersonal communication is more powerful than any media source.
“The media, certainly, have a tremendous impact on the society, but a single word is more powerful than a thousand pictures.”
He said our culture is passing through a continuous change, but “the foreign media is not a serious threat to the core values of our religion or culture”.
SMIU Vice Chancellor Dr Muhammad Ali Sheikh said the ethics of a society are reflected in the ethics of the media.
Quoting Quaid-e-Azam’s March 13, 1947 address to journalists, he said: “I expect you (journalists) to be completely fearless. If I go wrong, or for that matter, the (Muslim) League goes wrong, in any direction of its policy or programme, I want you to criticise it honestly as its friend; in fact, as one whose heart is beating with the Muslim nation.”
Sheikh said Pakistan, at the time of its independence, inherited about a dozen laws relating to the functioning of the media as a legacy from its colonial past.
The newborn country also inherited the information bureaucracy trained and nurtured by the colonial rulers, he added.
Source: The News