August 09, 2023
ISLAMABAD—On the last day of the coalition government, the National Assembly and Senate passed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
Only two days ago, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb (pictured) withdrew the bill after it drew criticism for restricting press freedom.
While re-introducing the bill, the minister said it was alleged that the bill had been prepared on the “instructions of someone.” She added that the bill was prepared after consultations with the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and other media representatives.
“It was alleged that I am bringing a black law, and we are trying to crush the freedom of expression. Without reading it, the bill has been made controversial.”
She said the decision of declaring a news “misinformation or disinformation” would be decided by the head of PEMRA and a three-member committee. She added that the definition of a journalist has been extended to those working at the desk, those behind the camera, etc.
The bill has divided the journalist community, with Hamid Mir, Mohammad Malick, Amir Mateen, and Kashif Abbasi opposing it, while PFUJ President Afzal Butt supported it.
Photo credit: Dawn.com
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