Gov’t holds consultations with stakeholders for consensus on PMDA: Farrukh

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib on Monday said the government held a wide ranging consultation process with stakeholders on proposed bill of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PDMA) to move forward.
While briefing a sub-committee of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on PMDA framework, he said all stakeholders including PBA, APNS, CPNE, major press clubs of the country and PFUJ have been consulted on PMDA framework. He said the sub-committee convener Maryam Aurangzeb went to protest camp and termed the PMDA as black law.
He added that it would have been better if the convener of the sub-committee had remained neutral and presented her position on this forum.
Farrukh Habib said presently there were seven laws and seven organizations including PEMRA, Audit Bureau of Circulation, Press Registrar, Press Council of Pakistan regulating the media and the government has planned to unite them under PMDA umbrella. This would not only reduce the budget but also facilitate the process, Farrukh Habib said. The minister said the Media Complaints Commission would take decision on the applications of journalists and media workers connected with electronic, print and digital media in 21 days.
The decisions of the Media Complaints Commission could be challenged in the Media Tribunal, he said adding, the Tribunal would also have 21 days to take decisions whereas its decision could only be challenged in the Supreme Court.
He said the Media Complaints Commission would be an independent body which would not be under the influence Pakistan Media Development Authority.
He said Media Complaints Commission offices would be set up in Lahore, Multan, Sukkur, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad. Habib said the government has taken guidance from the Ofcom, Singapore and Malaysia’s models of PMDA, adding, there was a need for any such authority as journalists and media workers demanded to resolve their major issues including delay in salaries and wage board. The minister said there was no final draft of PMDA and no ordinance was being promulgated in this regard. Kanwal Shozab said that the sub-committee convener Maryam Aurangzeb rejected PMDA before consultations due to biasness.
There was a question mark on the role of Maryam Aurangzeb, Kanwal Shozab commented. Nafeesa Shah said Kanwal Shozab’s protest was right, if a sub-committee has been formed on this issue, discussion should be taken according to the legal procedure.