Bill for security of journalists to be presented to cabinet legislative panel


ISLAMABAD Oct 13 (TNS): Briefing the Senate committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on different issues related to media, Marriyum Aurangzeb has said that the first draft of the Bill for Safety, security and Protection of journalists would soon be presented before the cabinet legislative committee for its approval.

The bill was prepared in consultation with all the stakeholders including All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), Council of Newspapers Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and inclusive of the recommendations of the committee members and the UN guidelines.

The Minister said that the proposed Bill envisaged the establishment of a welfare fund for the journalists to which both the government and the media owners would contribute. Marriyum said that this fund would be constituted immediately after formal approval of the Bill.

She said that security, protection and welfare of the journalists were major concerns of the government which would be addressed through this legislation.

The minister told the committee that some people were not happy over the proposed draft Bill as they also wanted inclusion of job security in it. She said that the government could not be a party to the matters between the employer and employees as they were already covered by labour laws.

She said that when she took charge as minister of state the former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had directed her to ensure early finalization of the law. Members of the standing committee appreciated the effort put in by the Minister of State for framing of the proposed bill for journalists.

In regards to responsibilities of PEMRA for regulating the electronic media, the minister told the committee that under the PEMRA laws it was obligatory on private channels to have an editorial committee within the organization which were imperative to ensure self-regulation; as was the case in most of the democratic countries.

She said that Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority was performing its duties well but self-regulation was the best way of bringing improvement.

The minister said that the government had taken serious notice of a programme aired by PTV in which a poet ridiculed and stigmatized the Pushtun community and had imposed a life time ban on the participation of the concerned poet in any programme of the official channel.

She informed the committee that the producer, script writer and the members of the editorial committee who were supposed to preview the programme before telecast had also been suspended.

The minister said that it was a lapse for which she tendered apology in the National Assembly and the apology was also highlighted on social media network under the ministry and Secretary Information himself responded to comments of the people on twitter. She said that a permanent editorial committee was being constituted in PTV to avoid such incidents in the future.

She said that the post of MD PTV was vacant currently but next week additional charge would be given to someone and report on the incident would be presented to the committee. The MOS revealed that the process for the appointment of MD PTV had already been initiated by advertising the post in the media.

Marriyum said that PTV had been working for national integrity and promoting regional languages and culture despite financial constraints. She also informed the committee that Intelligence Bureau had filed FIR against the fake list of members of parliament having links with banned organizations.

The minister revealed that that there was a proposal to bring  attached departments of the ministry in the rented buildings including Press Information Department, Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications, External Publicity Wing and Institute of Regional Studies under one roof.

For this purpose the plots owned by the ministry would be sold and a suitable building would be purchased to accommodate these departments, she added.

The minister explained to the committee that it was compulsory to get a certificate for advertisements from relevant departments but unfortunately the law was not being implemented properly.

She said that the government was taking steps for increasing children content on the television channels as no children specific programmes were being telecast by the electronic media. She said that the issue of children content had also been included in the renewed SRBC airtime contract renewal.