Govt gears up to regulate printing press industry
PESHAWAR: After going through reorganisation, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa information and public relations department is flexing muscles to regulate printing press in the province and enforce law to counter terrorists’ propaganda material, printed locally.
The provincial information and public relations department, which was going through reorganisation during the last eight months, has planned to initiate ‘instant measures’ to improve ‘information’ and ‘public relations’.
However, it is also going to take up its regulatory role seriously and enforce “Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Act 2013” to regulate printing press industry in the province.
There are around 300 registered printing presses but during their elections, it was found out that there were about 3000 printers running printing press across the province, an official said.
“How come statements of Islamic State or Taliban threat letter properly printed appear so easily in the city? This should stop,” he said.
The department after going through rereorganisation is planning to take ‘instant measures’ to play the role it was meant for. Six working groups of the officials concerned and experts have been formed to suggest workable plans for implementing these measures.
Officials said that the department was planning to revise the classification of publications for granting government advertisements. A software would track the request for advertisement received to its publication and then its automatic upload on website would not only make the entire process efficient but transparent too. For advertisement on electronic media including radio FM channels, the department was drafting a policy for prime time and its cost per minute for government advertisements, they said.
Plans to initiate ‘instant measures’ to keep a check on hate material
The department is also planning to improve publicity of the initiatives of different departments, engage cabinet ministers to share their version on any news story and improve ministers’ public relations and their interaction with the people through its FM channels and other means of communication.
Under the plan, sources said, the department would play role of a coordinator between the government and media to ensure government’s version was properly and timely shared with media on an issue. Not only it will provide narrative of the government, the department plans to start working on ‘grievance reporting’. It will categorise, compile and send the ministers and their secretaries all that media has published at the end of every day. This would help the government and ministers to know about the issues, a media organisation’s coverage of the issue and also give them an opportunity to respond on the basis of the published news.
An official said that information department was going to improve only ‘public relations’ of the cabinet ministers but it was also going to keep feeding them on information being printed in print and electronic media. A centralised media centre for holding press conferences and data sharing with the media had also been planned, he said.
The more important role it is going to take up, perhaps not done before as vigorously, is its regulatory role. Under the “Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Act 2013”, the advertising agencies are also going to be regulated and made more accountable.
The officials expressed their seriousness to regulate the publications and printing of material so that hate material and anti-government statements could be countered. Printing press in Peshawar especially would soon come under the government’s focus, they said.
“We are going to convince, cajole, then coerce and crush if we need to and if these printing presses don’t follow the law,” the official said.