Law on media authority next month | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Law on media authority next month

ISLAMABAD- The ground work for establishing the regulatory authority for media broadcasting organizations (RAMBO.) is expected to start next month with the promulgation of the relevant ordinance.

Immediately after the promulgation of the law advertisements will be placed in local and foreign newspapers inviting applications from suitable candidates to head the authority.

The government is reportedly looking for Pakistanis of repute with 20-25 years of experience of television or radio management in top positions for the job. Other qualifications for the post are being finalized.

The authority will have three members from the government, including the ex-officio secretaries of information and communications and the ex-officio chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), and five from the private sector, one each from the four provinces and an additional member, who perhaps would be some kind of a specialist. Three of these five members would be women.

Applications for grant of licences from intending sponsors of private Television and radio channels would be invited as soon as the authority is put in place which tentatively is expected to be done by September this year. And licences would be granted by December with the expectation that licensees will start operating their channels from March 2001.

The selection criteria for grant of licences is being kept very strict. The intending licencee will have to prove to the fullest satisfaction of the authority that he/she has the financial, technical and managerial capacity to run the channel and also that he/she has the reputation of being socially responsible.

Separate applications will be invited for satellite, and terrestrial channel licences. And then there would be separate licences for national, community and specialized channels in the terrestrial sector.

In order to ensure there are no overlapping of airways, each of the above mentioned categories of licences for terrestrial channels would be issued one after the other with the licences for national channel taking the lead followed by community and then specialised channels like for sports and religion.

While the government is making the criteria for granting of these licences very strict in the final selection it is expected to use its own discretion in order to keep the number of licencees within reasonable limits.

Those who are designing the whole exercise, feel that with nine people sitting in the authority, the chances of the misuse of the discretionary powers for granting the licences would be minimal. The licences would not be granted to wholly foreign-owned companies, but firms with minority foreign shares would be eligible. Overseas Pakistanis with dual nationalities would be regarded as Pakistanis. Each licence would perhaps be granted for at least 10-15 years. And each sponsor would be asked to include on its board at least three eminent Pakistanis with good reputation.

Source: The News