Media Commission’s report: Supreme Court seeks report on government advertisements
Resuming hearing on Media Commission’s report on transparent distribution of government advertisements in the media on Tuesday, the Supreme Court sought a report from the federation on the issue. A two-member bench of Justices Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain was hearing identical petitions filed against the federation on the release of secret funds on a media campaign in the country.
The bench stayed payments to any advertising agency/media house till next date of hearing in the current matter and directed Deputy Attorney General (DAG) to provide particulars of any summaries which may have been approved since March 10, 2013 onwards. The bench also sought a report on spending by the caretaker set-up for advertisement support from the federation through DAG, saying he would ascertain the correct factual position of the spending in response to an application filed in the Human Rights Cell of the court.
It was alleged through the application that substantial funds by the government were likely to be disbursed in violation of rules for providing advertisement support to media. The court order noted, “It has been further alleged that the summaries in respect of disbursement of substantial amounts were approved after the expiry of the term of the previous government”.
Appearing before the bench on court’s notice, Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan, informed the bench that the Commission was already prioritising the matter of media Code of Conduct for the forthcoming general elections. He maintained that a draft Code of Conduct had been prepared by the ECP whereas another draft had been proposed by the media bodies and individuals saying the Commission was also take into consideration the deliberations of the media commission while finalising the Code of Conduct in a week.
During the proceedings, Media Commission’s report was submitted before the bench. It recommended transparent distribution of government advertisements, saying media freedom should also be ensured. It added that a cell should also be set up at the ECP office to monitor political advertisements. It said the caretaker government should ensure that all candidates received equal coverage in state-run media whereas the state media should be allowed to work independently. The report further called upon the caretaker government to ensure safety of journalists and also urged media houses to establish an internal audit cell. The hearing of case was adjourned till April 8.
Source: Business Recorder