=> PESHAWAR: Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (P -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

=> PESHAWAR: Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (P

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has said it welcomed the federal Information Ministry’s response to its Free Media for Fair Polls Campaign, but said it was unsatisfactory since it was “not based on facts” and “against ground realities”.

The union vowed to continue its “global campaign” until its demands were met.

“We welcome and respect the response but it is not satisfactory and not based on facts and ground realities,” the PFUJ said in a statement on Thursday, in response to the ministry’s statement that there were no restrictions on the media.

Firing of anchors: The PFUJ said the ministry had not responded to their question about the ban on certain television programme anchors. It said this meant the anchors were fired under government pressure and not by the channels on their own. Most of the banned anchors were not allowed to appear in any programmes at all, it said. “This is nothing but direct interference in the editorial policy of the channels. This prerogative (to fire programme anchors) should be of the management and not of outsiders,” the statement said.

It said the ministry had not responded to its demand that the November 3 amendments to the PEMRA Ordinance be withdrawn, and had not removed the questioned clauses in the Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002 so far. The withdrawal of the two amendments was not linked to the nomination of the Press Council as the ministry had suggested in its statement, the PFUJ said. The PFUJ said the ministry’s statement that there was no ban on GEO television was surprising.

Geo TV: “The ministry’s reply — that there is no ban on GEO TV and it is the prerogative and policy of cable TV operators to include channels in or exclude them from their service — contradicts the remarks made by President Pervez Musharraf in a TV programme that the channel would not be allowed on air for some time,” the PFUJ statement said.

It asked the government to assure cable TV operators that no action would be taken against them if they showed Geo News and Geo Super channels. The PFUJ asked whether PEMRA’s action against TV channels was approved by its governing body, which it said met after four months in December. It said some of the body’s members questioned the action against TV channels.

Responding to the ministry’s claim that the management of TV channels was “at complete liberty” within the laws, the PFUJ said: “Nowhere in the world is the president above criticism, nor a journalist or broadcaster guilty until proven innocent.”

“The PFUJ hopes the government will ensure free coverage of the general elections, will not use its so-called ‘prerogative’ to take channels off air, and will follow the legal course,” the statement said.

The PFUJ said its signature campaign was gaining momentum worldwide as the International Federation of Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the South Asia Free Media Association had joined the campaign and had asked their members to sign its petition.
Source: Daily Times
Date:1/18/2008