May 28, 2021
ISLAMABAD—Since Fawad Chaudhry (pictured) reassumed charge as information minister, the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting has once again started working to establish a new media regulatory authority.
The Pakistan Media Development Authority Ordinance, 2021 aims to create an independent, efficient, effective, and transparent Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) to regulate all forms of media and bring them under one converged regulator and statutory Authority.
The PMDA will regulate films, electronic, print, and digital media, including Web TV, OTT, and news websites.
A draft of the said Ordinance is currently in review, which may soon be presented to the President of Pakistan for his approval. Once finalized, it will be implemented throughout the country.
The PDMA shall issue licenses for electronic, print, and digital media in the following categories:
(i) national scale
(ii) provincial and regional;
(iii) district and tehsil level
(iv) local area and community-based
(iv) specific and specialized subjects
(v) international scale, targeting countries abroad
(vi) other categories as the Authority may prescribe from time to time.
The Authority may further sub-categorize the categories as it may deem fit, such as news and current affairs, entertainment, sport, regional language, education, agriculture, health, specialized subjects, kids, travel and tourism, science and technology, etc.
No broadcast media channel/print media or digital media platform will be entitled to public sector advertisement till the completion of a one-year non-stop operation since its official launch. “Any licensee and registered entity, declaration and NOC holder or person who violates or abets the violation of any of the provision of this Ordinance shall be guilty of offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with a fine which may extend up to twenty-five million rupees or with both,” the draft stated.
An online platform, under the said Ordinance, is defined as online information and content delivery systems accessed via the internet for watching television (live or recorded) or similar content services, such as web TV channels, YouTube channels, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc., and Over the Top (OTT) content means television channels or content provided via the internet to users either free of cost or through a subscription fee.
The Authority requires the licensee to not broadcast, distribute or make available online anything which is known to be false or baseless or is mala fide or for which there exist sufficient reasons to believe that the same may be false, baseless, or mala fide.
The proposed Authority shall perform the following functions:
a) regulate the establishment and operation of electronic media, including broadcast media and distribution services in Pakistan established for international, national, provincial, district, local, or special target audiences, foreign TV, radio, and digital media services being received or distributed in Pakistan;
b) regulate the establishment and operation of the printing press, print media, including newspapers, news agencies, journals, magazines, etc.
c) audit of circulation of newspapers and rating of broadcast and digital media platforms
d) regulate the establishment and operation of digital media, including online newspapers, web TV channels, OTT content platforms, online news channels, video logs, etc.
e) grant and renew licenses or registration certificates or declaration or NOC for electronic, print, digital media services, and film services
f) monitor and enforce licenses or registration certificates or declaration or NOC
g) investigate and adjudicate complaints and other claims made against licensees arising out of alleged contraventions of the provisions of this Ordinance, the rules and regulations made, and licenses or registration certificates issued thereunder and take action accordingly.
“The Federal Government may, as and when it considers necessary, issue directives to the Authority on matters of policy, and such directives shall be binding on the Authority, and if a question arises whether any matter is a matter of policy or not, the decision of the Federal Government shall be final,” the ordinance draft states.
To carry out the purpose of the Ordinance, the Authority shall post three full-time executive members from the information group of Grade 20 and above, who will be heading the Electronic Media, Digital Media and Print Media Wings for the execution of the Ordinance, as under:
(1) Electronic Media Directorate: This directorate shall be responsible for carrying out all functions for regulating the establishment, operation, maintenance, and enforcement of electronic media. The activities shall, inter alia, include licensing, holding bidding for the grant of licenses, renewal of licenses, formulation of eligibility criteria for licenses, initiation of legal actions for violation of any provision of the Ordinance, determination of fee and tariff including fee for grant of a license, annual fee, renewal fee, variable fee including percent of annual gross revenue or gross advertisement revenue, holding of public and personal hearings, imposition of fines, confiscation, and seizure of equipment used in the illegal operation and other such tasks.
(2) Print Media Directorate: This directorate shall be responsible for carrying out all functions for regulating the establishment, operation, maintenance, and enforcement of print media. The activities shall, inter alia, include registration, audit of circulation, formulation of eligibility criteria for registration, central media list, initiation of legal actions for violation of any provision of the Ordinance, determination of fee and tariff including fee for grant of registration, annual fee, renewal fee.
(3) Digital Media and Films Directorate: This directorate shall be responsible for carrying out all functions for regulating the establishment, operation, maintenance, and enforcement of digital media and granting NOC for exhibition, shooting, and production of films. The activities shall, inter alia, include licensing, holding bidding for the grant of licenses, renewal of licenses, formulation of eligibility criteria for licenses, registration, NOC, and ratings, initiation of legal actions for violation of any provision of the Ordinance, determination of fee and tariff, including fee for grant of a license, NOC, annual fee, renewal fee, variable fee, including percent of annual gross revenue or gross advertisement revenue, holding of public and personal hearings, imposition of fines, confiscation, and seizure of equipment used in the illegal operation and other such tasks.
(4) The Authority may also set up other sub-directorates or wings within each directorate to effectively carry out its functions. These sub-directorates or wings may include licensing, enforcement, legal, administration, human resource, finance, audit, technical or engineering, monitoring, and other such wings.
The Authority shall have exclusive right to issue licenses for the establishment and operation of all electronic, print, and digital media services, provided that this exclusive right shall be used by the Authority in conformity with the principles of fairness and equity applied to all potential applicants for licenses whose eligibility shall be based on prescribed criteria notified in advance.
The Authority shall also have the power to determine the number of licenses/registration certificates to be issued in each category or sub-category of media services and charge fees at such rates as the Authority may fix from time to time for the grant of a license/registration certificates, application processing fee, annual fees, including fixed fee late payment fee, etc. Moreover, the Authority shall devise a Code of Conduct for programs and advertisements for compliance by the licensees or registration certificate.
Conditions requiring the licensee to include in its daily transmission, broadcast, publication, programs or information in the public interest specified by the Federal Government or the Authority in the manner indicated by the Government or, as the case may be, the Authority, provided that the duration of such mandatory programs is not less than five percent of the total duration of broadcast or operation or publication in 24 hours.
The Authority also requires the licensee not to broadcast, distribute or make available online any program inciting violence or hatred or any action prejudicial to maintaining law and order. Similarly, to ridicule the Head of State, or members of the armed forces, or legislative or judicial organs of the state would not be permitted under the Ordinance. To broadcast, distribute or make available online any program or discussion on a matter which is sub-judice would also not be allowed. However, court reporting may be aired/published in an informative manner.
The Authority also aims to conduct market research every three years to determine significant market players in electronic, print, and digital media sectors and shall issue regulations or guidelines restricting the grant of licenses beyond a limit in a particular media sector or prohibiting the grant of licenses in multiple or cross-media sectors to avoid monopolies and undue concentration in the media sector by a single player or few players.
A license or registration certificate, declaration, and NOC for any media service shall be valid for a period of five, ten, or 15 years subject to payment of the annual fee and such other fees as prescribed from time to time and subject to compliance with the provisions of this Ordinance, rules or regulations and terms and conditions of license/ registration certificate. The Authority may renew a license or registration certificate and declaration on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed and in case of refusal to renew a license or registration certificate and declaration reasons shall be recorded in writing.
The Federal Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, also establish Media Complaints Council at Islamabad, the provincial capitals, Sukkur, Multan, Gwader, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, and also at other places as the federal government may determine.
Each Council shall receive, scrutinize, investigate and review complaints made by persons or organizations from the general public against any aspects of news, analysis, programs on print, broadcast, films, and online platforms or distributed by any media service provider established through a license or registration certificate, declaration, and NOC issued by the Authority and complaint from media workers for nonpayment of wages. Each Council shall consist of a chairperson and five members being citizens of eminence from the general public, at least two of whom shall be women. The council shall have powers of civil court in certain matters.
“The electronic media licensee of the Authority shall not enter into an agreement with any foreign broadcaster to sell its air time or otherwise provide its air time to another foreign broadcaster or any media service operator without prior written permission of the Authority,” the draft states.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Ordinance, all persons lawfully carrying on regulated activities immediately before the commencement of this Ordinance shall be deemed to be validly carrying on such regulated activities pursuant to this Ordinance,” it concluded.
Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan
If my call is so important to them, why don’t they answer it for 22 minutes?
How come when I want to, but something specific online is the only item out of stock.
When I get into a queue or lane going fast, the moment I get in, it becomes the slowest and refuses to budge.Read more... | Archives