Pemra to consult NAB, FIA, agencies on DTH services: Chairman
LAHORE: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has decided to take on board all intelligence agencies as well as National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on ‘Direct to Home’ (DTH) services before starting its bidding process.
This was stated by Pemra Chairman Absar Alam while speaking at a “Meet the Press” programme at the Lahore Press Club here on Thursday. “For transparent bidding of DTH services, I’m going to write letters to intelligence agencies, NAB and FIA so they could nominate their respective officials before the commencement of the bidding process,” Alam said, adding that the bidding process of DTH services would be made in transparent manner and no one would be given any favour.
Responding to a question, Pemra chairman said the Authority had taken the decision to make the bidding process transparent. “We have put all questions relevant to the bidding on our website and anyone can give his or her feedback about what kind of policy they want,” he added.
Alam said a lot of effort was being put in for bidding of the DTH and they would not take any decision in haste. He said he would write to NAB, FIA and military authorities to get their feedback before going for the bidding process.
Rebuking any favouritism for bidding of DTH services, Pemra chairman made it clear that the whole process would be done in front of the media persons and nothing would be kept secret in this regard.
He said due to some non-professional anchors, credibility of the media had been damaged. He said not only the code of conduct for the media had been framed after taking all quarters concerned on board but the same was also being implemented. But, he added, due to some non-professional anchors, the code of conduct had not been implemented in letter and spirit.
Criticising all such so-called anchors who use abusive language in their talk shows, Alam said filthy and vulgar language should be avoided; otherwise law would take its course. The chairman said owners of the media houses should intervene in the issue so that the unhealthy journalism could be checked and the code of conduct for media could be implemented fully.
“Only a transparent, credible and independent media would be able to hold other pillars of the state including parliament, judiciary and executive (both civilian and military) accountable,” Absar Alam remarked, adding that the media should also hold him accountable for all steps and measures he had taken as the chairman.
The Pemra chairman said it was a difficult decision for him to quit his journalistic career to become Pemra chairman, but he had accepted the challenge only to serve his community. He said the Authority was working towards digitalisation of the cable network and in this regard. He said he had been holding meetings with cable operators, Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and other stakeholders.
He said after assuming the charge, he was tried hard to make Pemra an independent body. “You can see that Pemra has been trying to be unbiased and the fact is evident from the recent Panama leaks scandal,” he added.
Describing his achievements during his short stint of five months in Pemra, Alam claimed that the Authority had issued 40 advices, 13 warnings and 18 show-cause notices to different channels for violating the code of conduct. Besides, he said, a fine of Rs3.5 million had also been imposed on different channels.
“It is for the first time in Pemra’s 14 years history that channels are paying fine,” Alam claimed, adding that three channels had also been suspended for violations during the last five months.
Pemra chairman said special attention was being paid to public awareness through campaigns and people should come forward to give their feedback about any objectionable content. “We act on the complaints of people so they should send us their complaints and queries.
“We have banned certain ads having provocative material,” he added. The Pemra chief said the Authority should also play its role when the media owners fail in fulfilling the fundamental rights of working journalists. Responding to another question, Alam made it clear that Pemra had not banned coverage of MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s speech on its own but the same had been done on the court orders.
The Pemra chief said he did not introduce any new law in the Authority rather he implemented the existing ones. He also condemned attacks on the media persons and asked the government and owners of media houses to adopt a policy in this regard. The channel managements should keep security of its employees on top priority during the coverage of protests and violence, etc, he added. Besides a large number of journalists, LPC President Shahbaz Mian and Secretary Shadab Riaz were also present on the occasion.