Pakistan Broadcasting Association advises Pemra to be specific -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pakistan Broadcasting Association advises Pemra to be specific

ISLAMABAD: Secretary General Pakistan Broadcasting Association (PBA) Syed Sarfraz Hussain Shah, on behalf of PBA members, has rejected the accusations levelled by the Pemra against entire broadcasting industry.

He gave his remarks in response to the press release titled “Pemra to take action against derogatory programmes, excessive advertisements and foreign content,” says a PBA press release.

Following is the text of the PBA press release:

“At the very outset we would like to state that as the regulatory of the media industry, the Pemra has a responsibility and a duty to act in a fair, reasonable and, above all, lawful manner. It is, therefore, highly regrettable that the Pemra has issued such a defamatory and inflammatory press release wantonly casting false and frivolous accusations against the entire broadcasting industry.”

“You have alleged that certain channels are airing derogatory, humiliating programmes purposely meant for character assassination of individuals and organizations. We assure you, however, that none of our members broadcast any such programs and in case the Pemra has any concerns regarding any particular program we are happy to sit down and discuss the issue with you and amicably resolve the matter. The Pemra should, however, refrain from making such vague and general accusations against the whole industry without providing any specifics. Such unsubstantiated actions only reflect poorly on the regulator.”

“Similarly, you have alleged, without any substantiation whatsoever, that there is “increasing vulgarity and indecency in programmes and these are perceived in disconformity to our socio-cultural or religious norms. All of our members apply strict editorial policies to ensure that no vulgar or indecent programs that may offend the moral or religious sensibilities of viewers are aired. As stated above, if the Pemra has any particular program in mind, we are very happy to discuss the issue and amicablay resolve the matter. Instead of trying to resolve the matter, however, the Pemra is insisting on casting baseless accusations against the entire industry. Such accusations on the part of a regulator are highly regrettable. We would, therefore, request the Pemra to perform its functions in a more responsible manner.”

“With regard to the issue of excessive advertisements, as you are no doubt aware, we, along with some of our members, have already filed a petition before the Honourable High Court of Sindh on this very issue and the Honourable court has been pleased to grant interim orders in our favour. Since the matter is sub-judice before the Honourable court, we do not intend to comment on the same. We hope that the Pemra will also maintain the dignity of the Honourable court and in the interests of judicial proprietary will refrain from making such inflammatory statements and commenting on the merits of an issue, which is before the Honourable court.”

“We would also like to bring to your attention that we, on behalf of electronic media industry, submitted a draft code for self-regulation to the Pemra/government in August 2009. Rather than work with us for the enforcement of this code, the Pemra has, for the past three years, failed to take any action on this issue despite repeated reminders by us. In view of this, the Pemra’s allegation that we are not making any serious effort at self-regulation and “are engaged in passing the buck to the Pemra” is an unfortunate example of dereliction of authority and the targeted spread of false propaganda.”

“Having read your press release, it seems that the Pemra is bent upon creating an atmosphere of distrust and hatred towards the broadcast media, when, in fact, as the regulator it should be balancing the interests of both viewers and broadcasters. Our members and their employees go to great lengths to create public awareness on vital issues, often placing themselves in life-threatening situations.”

“Instead of lauding the work of our members and their employees and appreciating their adherence to the law, it seems that the Pemra is determined to pressurize and muzzle them.”

“We are writing this letter as a gesture of good faith and in the hope that the Pemra will change its unfortunate and antagonistic attitude towards the broadcast media. As stated earlier, we and all of our members are always available to sit down and discuss all issues with the Pemra in order to achieve an amicable resolution. We would, however, greatly appreciate if the Pemra did not continue to make defamatory and inflammatory statements against the media industry otherwise we will be forced to avail any and all legal remedies available to us.”

The News