NA panel recommends wartime media rules
ISLAMABAD: Chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marvi Memon on Monday emphasized upon the need for greater collaboration among the media houses and the government for mutually working out an effective strategy so as to counter terrorist narrative.
She stated this during a meeting held in the PEMRA headquarters. The meeting was also attended by Secretary Ministry Muhammad Azam, Principal Information Officer Rao Tehsin Ali, Director General Internal Publicity Nasir Jamal, Chairman PEMRA Pervez Rathore and Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami as representative of CPNE. The committee was convened to work out media strategy in the context of present situation.
Marvi Memon said the country was passing through the most critical phase of its history and situation demanded manifestation of greater maturity and sense of responsibility by all stakeholders, including media houses, media persons and all others.
The meeting discussed various issues related to the emergent situation and the new requirements especially in the aftermath of terrorists attack on innocent children in Peshawar and the commitment of the nation to pursue its struggle against terrorism till its logical conclusion. The meeting decided that the media would not lend itself to the projection of terrorism as heroic action and the criminals and terrorists as heroes.
The meeting recommended that the coverage of terrorists’ statements and activities should be refrained to the maximum possible extent. The meeting said that there should be no ambiguity in definition of the terrorists organisations. There was unanimity of views among the participants of the meeting that those individuals who leave one banned organisation and create a new organisation, their new organisation should be immediately considered as of the same category and those terrorists themselves should be considered as banned. It recommended that a directory of banned organisations and individuals should be published in public domain.
The meeting proposed establishment of a consultative body between the government and media organisations for facilitation of amended wartime rules. Editors and CEOs of TV organisations would determine responsibility in collaboration with the relevant government departments.
The meeting emphasized the need for ensuring implementation of relevant laws, in their true letter and spirit that deal with media content about terrorism and terrorist activities. It called upon the government to proactively engage all stakeholders, particularly PBA, CPNE and APNS for this cause of national interest.
The meeting suggested that creation of special tribunals for telecom and electronic media may be considered which could play their role towards dispute resolution and ensuring implementation of laws.
There was unanimity of views that there was a need for changing mindset so as to cope with the present situation. It was decided that the committee would recommend to the government for capacity enhancement of PEMRA and to enable the organisation manage the task of real time media monitoring.
The members also called upon the media houses to constitute and notify editorial boards and pass on that information to PEMRA being the regulatory authority.
The meeting put forth various other recommendations that concern coverage of terrorism related incidents. Besides others, the meeting recommended that media owners should get insurance schemes for the lives and equipment of media teams tasked for covering any activity beyond their routine assignment. The chairperson, in her concluding remarks, observed that more meetings would follow and the next meeting would specially focus on chalking out a strategy for the social media.