Violation of contractual obligations by TVs: Opposition rejects bill proposing powers for PEMRA.
ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the Senate on Monday rejected a bill proposing powers for the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Pemra) to look into complaints of violation of contractual obligations by private TV channels.
PPP Parliamentary Leader in the House Sherry Rehman, opposing the bill, alleged: “The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is going to be used to interfere in media contracts now. It already has a terrible record. Media has no space in Pakistan under this government and Tabahi Sarkar is bent upon suppressing the media and voices of dissent.” The bill, which has been cleared by the relevant Standing Committee twice, was moved in the House by its Chairman PTI Senator Faisal Javed.
The treasury benches castigated the opposition senators for opposing the bill meant to protect workers’ rights. However, the opposition lawmakers objected to the idea of giving access to Human Resource Departments of electronic media houses on the excuse of protecting workers’ rights.
Sherry asserted: “We will not allow the government to use the backdoor for this. We propose talks with representative organizations like Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Pakistan Broadcasters’ Association (PBA) before going for any legislation. In the World Press Freedom Index for 2020, Pakistan ranked 145 out of 180 countries. Today, journalists are being intimidated, threatened, censored and punished. The PTI government is finding new ways to silence media workers.”
Senator Mian Raza Rabbani contended that there were no qualms with the intention of the mover, but insisted the procedure adopted was questionable. He said the Pemra has a history of being used by governments for arm-twisting of channels. He argued: “Now this bill proposes giving a massive leverage to the Pemra by empowering it to make people answerable over human resource issues.
Besides, secret calls are made to anchors telling them what topic they should speak about and what are not supposed to be touched.” He made it clear that it would be inappropriate to equip the Pemra with such a tool and “we will oppose it”.
Treasury Senator Mohsin Aziz observed that the opposition is blowing hot and cold while trying to please media house owners and employees at the same time. The legislator advised the opposition to take a clear position over the issue. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani at one stage proposed referring the bill to the Standing Committee concerned for the third time, but on Faisal Javed’s insistence, the bill was put for voting and was rejected by the majority through voice vote.
The Environmental Protection Amendment Bill 2020 was passed in the House. The bill to amend the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 was introduced by Senator Faisal Javed and passed. Speaking on the occasion, he said a tidy environment is the guarantee of a healthy and beautiful Pakistan. He said the spread of garbage in various places not only affects the land but also adversely harms human and animal health. “This leads to new diseases and epidemics, affects trees and vegetation, and degrades Pakistan’s natural beauty, causing irreparable damage to the tourism sector,” he maintained.
He said local, provincial and federal governments have to spend billions of rupees in disposing of garbage. The citizens should personally play their role in this regard so that a clean, beautiful and healthy society could be formed.