Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority councils to address public complaints -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority councils to address public complaints

ISLAMABAD- The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has set up committees from the general public to deal with complaints against the content and quality of the broadcast media.

The “Councils of Complaints” comprising representatives of the civil society will be based in Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi will hear the complaints of the public against the television cable operators, FM radio stations and television stations in the private sector.

“Pemra wants the public to decide what they want to watch,” said Pemra Chairman Mian Muhammad Javed while talking to newsman on November 4, 2002.

There have been complaints against the contents and quality of the programmes aired by the private sector, which are in contrast to the country’s societal norms.

Pemra has recently advertised a list of foreign channels, which the people prefer to watch on cable.

“The respective councils shall receive and review complaints made by persons or organisations from general public against any aspect of programmes aired by the broadcast stations”, said Javed.

“The idea is to let the people be a judge of what (programmes) conform to our cultural norms without any interference from the government in the affairs of the electronic media”, said the Pemra chairman.

The public, Mian Javed said, have been complaining about the content being shown on the cable television and the Authority has been taking action against the violators, adding now the complaints council will take care of the complaints and recommend action.

Each Council will have a commissioner and five members comprising prominent citizens, men of letters, educationists, retired civil servants and representatives from the chamber of commerce and local bodies, he added.

These councils, set up with immediate effect, will take note of complaints and may recommend immediate action of censure, fine against a broadcast or cable TV network station or licensee for violation of the Code of Conduct for programmes and advertisements.

However, the Pemra chairman said, the Authority will exercise its best judgment while deciding on councils recommendations.

The council shall monitor, at random, all aspects of broadcasts, including the programme content, over-charging, quality of standards of the transmission of the broadcasts or cable TV stations, he added.

It shall keep the Authority informed about the feed-back and public response to the contents, quality and impact of the programmes and advertisements broadcast or distributed, he maintained.

Mian Javed said the council will dispose of the matter within 30 days. In case of violation of the license conditions, the Authority may direct an officer to inspect in assistance with local law-enforcing authorities and order closure, if found guilty.

The council can call any licensee and seek explanation about the operations and content of broadcast or cable TV network, ha added.

The council, which will hold regular meetings at least once a month, will submit detailed reports, including the number of complaints received and disposed of, he said.

The commissioner can call meeting any time to entertain urgent matter, he said, adding the budgets will be prepared by the councils which will be met by Pemra, and its accounts will be audited and an annual report submitted.

Following four councils have been constituted by the Authority:

Punjab: Major General Abdul Sattar (Retd), Chairman; the president, Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Member; Naib Nazim of Lahore District, Member; Sohail Ahmed, Artiste Lahore, Member; Mrs Shahima Rehman, Member; Dr Musarrat Hussain, Member.

Sindh: Nazim F. Haji, Chairman; President of Reformers, Karachi; the president, Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Member; Mrs Mumtaz Rashdi, Member; Naib Nazim of Karachi, Member; Ms Fatima Surriya Bajia, Member; Dr Saira S. Khan, founder presidents, the Medical Aid and the Medical Aid Foundation.

NWFP: Justice Abdul Karim Kursdi (Retd), Chairman; Hameed Asghar, Former SO PBCW Peshawar, Member; Naib Nazim of Peshawar District, Member; Ms Salma Shaheen, research scholar, Member; the president, NWFP Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Member.

Balochistan: Fakir Muhammad Baloch, Chairman; Former Balochistan chief secretary; the president, Balochistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Member; Dr Rashida Panezai, social worker, Member; Naib Nazim of Quetta District, Member; Ms Ayesha Ayub, team leader, Sehar, Member; Dr Abdul Nasir Kasi, Quetta, artist and intellectual, Member.
Source: Business Recorder