KARACHI: The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) has expressed the hope that the new government will hold “meaningful consultations” with media stakeholders before bringing about structural changes in state-managed media bodies.
In a statement released on Thursday, the APNS welcomed the government’s intention to revamp the structure of state-run media.
However, it pointed out that the merger of various media regulatory authorities into the proposed “Pakistan media regulatory authority” would be counterproductive since the Press Council had been formed by print media houses of their own volition whereas Pemra was a regulatory body set up by the government with a different role.
In the statement, APNS president Hameed Haroon and secretary general Sarmad Ali expressed hopes that any law or amendment would be undertaken in consultation with the APNS and other stakeholders.
The APNS office-bearers recalled that the previous government had also proposed a law which was opposed by media organisations as it would have affected freedom of press.
They stated that the information ministry had, during the previous government’s last year in office, dug out notorious laws promulgated by Gen Ayub Khan and presented it to the government with a new title.
However, a strong protest by media organisations forced the government to drop the proposed law.
The APNS, they added, felt that if any proposed law contravened the 18th Amendment and the freedom of press as enshrined in Article 19 and 19A of the constitution, it would not be acceptable to the media.
The APNS pointed out that after the 18th Amendment, legislation in relation to newspapers, books and printing presses had become a provincial subject.
The APNS office-bearers expressed confidence that Prime Minister Imran Khan would not support enactment of any law that was inconsistent with freedom of press and expression.