Regulatory framework for private channels soon Jabbar -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Regulatory framework for private channels soon Jabbar

ISLAMABAD- Advisor to Chief Executive on Information Javed Jabbar said that the government would protect interests of the people while allowing private channels in the country amid fast-paced convergence of information technologies.

“At this threshold when state control over electronic media will give way to private investments, we are in the process of framing a law that will address people’s concerns and protect their interests,” he stated.

However, Jabbar said that the government “does not want to have a monopoly over the corporate sector.”

To a question, he said that the cabinet and the National Security Council would shortly discuss and inform the people about the government decision as to when the private channels would be allowed.

The advisor further said: “Amid proliferation of information technologies, a citizen is becoming a consumer, a spender and a purchaser. While access to IT, empowers citizens, it also has an enslavement aspect, we should make sure that citizens do not becomes slaves.”

Jabbar pointed to the need for checks and balances vis-a-vis regulation of the free market, saying, “People should not suffer on account of the greed of the market.”

Referring to the convergence of information technologies, he said it should be constructive and benevolent and not unholy. “Unholy convergence is the last thing we will want,” he said, hoping that the law, civil society, the Press and the electronic media would act as guardians of public interest “as the country deals with blistering pace of IT advancements.”

Javed Jabbar said: ‘At the same time, the government faces an unprecedented challenge of reconstruction of its institutions in information technology. We are determined to meet this phenomenal challenge with speed, care and efficiency. In this regard, the government has already taken steps including separation of telecommunication from the Ministry of Communication, setting up of IT Division and its convergence with the Ministry of Science and Technology.”

“The government recognises the great importance the convergence of information technologies have for Pakistan. General Musharraf was the first head of the government who recognised the importance of private channels in his address on October 17,” he said.

“Despite an open-minded society, Pakistan still suffers from the darkness of data,” he said. “A very limited number of radio licences would be issued every year before the government withdrew the licence fee. Similarly, there are about 1.5 million TV licence holders, but the actual number of TV sets is much more,” he added.

“PTV and Radio Pakistan have been directed to collect a comprehensive data about the number of TV and radio sets being used in the country,” he said, adding: “This is a fundamental requirement for us.”

Electronic media expert Aslam Azhar underlined the need for a “unified legislation” that should cover all relevant considerations and be an “enabling and not a restrictive” law. The PTV pioneer said the country should anticipate the imperatives of the fast-developing information technology “which is at the cutting edge of the national development.”

“We have to present a cultural package to the world and talk to the world in the idiom and medium of the age. Our voice must be everywhere and the world should have access to us,” he said. Azhar said the private sector and society should be energised as a whole. He asked the government to boost investor’s confidence and look for revenues worldwide.

Chief Executive’s Advisor on National Affairs, Information and Media Development Javed Jabbar has said the government faces an unprecedented challenge in restructuring its institutions in the information technology, telecom and media sectors and will have to address them with speed, care and efficiency.

Jabbar said the government would ensure a regulatory framework for the private channels to address certain concerns of the people. “The government has openly declared an end to state monopoly on media, but adequate measures will have to be taken to protect the public interest from the onslaught of media,” he added. “We will have to create safeguards for the society and social sector. An independent Press and electronic media will have to act as a guardian of public interest,” he said.
Source: The News
Date:2/29/2000