August 24, 2021
ISLAMABAD—Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Chaudhry has said that the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) would be authorized to impose a fine of up to Rs250 million on television channels against the current upper limit of Rs1 million in the existing laws, Business Recorder reported.
In an interaction with digital broadcasters here, Fawad said that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was a rich organization but unfortunately it did not spend a penny on journalists' training, research, and digital media since its formation.
He said that there were currently several laws regulating media in Pakistan. Social media is dealt with by the PTA, the press is managed by the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP), electronic media is dealt with by the PEMRA, labor regulations are looked after by the Implementation Tribunal for Newspapers Employees (ITNE), while the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) deals with newspaper registrations.
He reiterated that all the laws were being abolished to replace them with one authority named the PMDA. The minister said that there was no provision for criminal liability in the proposed law, but it does have the authority to impose a fine of up to Rs250 million. "At present, organizations obtain a stay order from the court in response to a notice and fine imposed by the PEMRA," he regretted.
He said the censor board will also be dissolved and a new entity— Board of Films Censor—will be established in its place.
He said that a media commission had also been created, which will have four people each from the government and media bodies and it will be headed by a chairman.
"The commission will have the powers to appoint people in the proposed complaint committee and media tribunal," he added. He said that the media tribunal would be able to entertain complaints from media workers, adding that many owners are opposing the formation of media tribunals, but the government will go ahead with its plan.
Chaudhry said that a new wing of development had been created in the PMDA aimed at capacity building of journalists as continuous education of news providers was the need of the hour.
He said verdicts by media tribunal would be final and could only be challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The minister insisted that digital media would define the media landscape of Pakistan in the future. "However, it doesn't mean that formal media will vanish but the mediums of communication will just change. Content is here to stay," he added.
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