Government refutes All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) allegation about, Press Council
ISLAMABAD- The Ministry of Information & Media Development , commenting on statement of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), said that no change of any significance has been brought in the draft of the “Press, Newspapers, News Agencies, Books Registration Ordinance 2002” which was the result of painstaking efforts of the APNS and Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and only facilitated by the government. A spokesman of the Ministry said the Cabinet approved the draft ordinance in its meeting on August 31.
In case of the press council, the spokesman said small changes have been approved in the composition of the, council to benefit from the wisdom and counsel of the teachers’ fraternity through inclusion of one eminent educationist each from the four provinces.The membership of APNS, CPNE and All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation (APNEC)/ Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in the council has been rationalized and the proposed membership of the FCCI has been dropped to accommodate the working journalists.
The spokesman assured that the freedom of information law or access to information act would also be approved shortly. The spokesman further said that it was on the insistence of the APNS and the CPNE that the government agreed to the funding of the press council.
No government representative will be on the council which will be a self- regulatory body of publishers, editors and journalists assisted by lawyers, human rights ;activists, educationists and one representative each of the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.
The spokesman also clarified that the Defamation Law, approved by the federal cabinet, is not Press-specific as it equally applies to the electronic media, radio and TV networks, which have also been brought under the ambit the law.
The spokesman disclosed that the Cabinet did not approve of the maximum damages up to Rs one million as was proposed in the draft law on defamation and instead approved the minimum damages of Rs 50,000 only if the charges of defamation are proved in the court of law.
The spokesman regretted that a report in a newspaper stated that the punishment for defamation in the law is three years. In fact, it is three months simple imprisonment and not three years as reported by a leading newspaper.
The spokesman said that the sole objective behind the press laws is to ensure freedom of the press for which the government and the representative organisations of the press have been working together for the last years. There will be no change in that commitment of the government to a free press as has been demonstrated during the last three years, the spokesman reiterated.
Source: Business Recorder