Newly formed committee to address issues of fake news; rights of media workers; and ways to improve existing laws and regulatory frameworks
In a bid to resolve a standoff over the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), various media bodies on Wednesday agreed to form a committee with the government to deliberate on the controversial legislation.
“A meeting was held between federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Minister of State Farrukh Habib and representatives of PBA, APNS, CPNE, PFUJ and AEMEND,” read a statement issued by the Joint Action Committee comprising representatives of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association; All Pakistan Newspapers Society; Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors; Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists; and the Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors.
“Issues relating to media regulation and proposed PMDA were discussed with the information minister,” it said, adding that the JAC’s representatives had conveyed their reservations on the proposed legislation and termed its current form “unacceptable.” In a bid to resolve the impasse, it said, “It was mutually agreed to form a committee to address the issue amicably.”
The newly formed committee, read the statement, would address the issue of fake news, particularly its spread through social media; the rights of the media workers; and ways to improve existing laws and regulatory framework rather than implementing a new law.
Prior to the committee’s formation, journalists and lawmakers attended a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting to deliberate on the proposed PMDA. Fawad and Habib both presented briefings on the reasons the government wished to establish the PMDA.
At the outset, Senator Faisal Javed of the PTI emphasized that Prime Minister Imran Khan believed in freedom of expression and would never put any curbs on the press. Referring to the PTI’s election manifesto, he added: “We are committed to maintaining a vigorous free media, which will evolve its own rules to ensure responsible journalism.”
Fawad, in his briefing, assured the standing committee that the PMDA bill would not be introduced in Parliament until consensus had been achieved on it.