October 08, 2021
FRANKFURT—Prominent international media organizations, the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), International Publishers Association (IPA), and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), have jointly urged the Pakistani government to retract plans for establishing the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).
"The PMDA would replace existing media regulatory bodies and would oversee electronic, print and digital media across every domain, from registrations to wages, licensing to the allocation of government advertising, as well as both civil and criminal complaints procedures," the three organizations noted, showing serious concerns regarding the proposed governance of the new media authority.
WAN-IFRA CEO, Vincent Peyrègne, on behalf of his organization, asked the Pakistan government to actively collaborate with media representatives on any such proposed law, particularly given its wide-ranging authority and the high potential for the infringement of press freedom.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger, while expressing his views, said: "The PMDA threatens to further curtail media freedom in Pakistan," adding "the IFJ strongly urges Pakistan's government to listen to the industry and take a step back, consult and engage with the media on much-needed reforms that will support and enable a sustainable, strong and independent media into the future."
José Borghino, Secretary-General of the International Publishers Association, said: "The International Publishers Association stands alongside news publishers and journalists in calling for the Pakistani authorities to withdraw their plans for the Pakistan Media Development Authority." According to him, the potential impact on freedom of expression and the freedom to publish is clear. It is alarming to see the current health crisis being used as a cover to stifle independent media.
The three organizations also expressed strong reservations about the secrecy behind the drafting of the new PDMA law, with the bill having only recently been shared by the government and receiving no input from media or civil society stakeholders.
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