LAHORE: The Joint Action Committee of journalists and media workers on Monday staged demonstrations at Charing Cross and simultaneously on the stairs of the Punjab Assembly building against lay-offs and salary cuts.
A large number of newsmen, cameramen, photojournalists and media workers as well as lawyers and civil society members participated in the protest and chanted slogans against their employers.
JAC convener Azam Chaudhry, members Arshad Ansari, Naeem Hanif, Faisal Durrani, Ziaullah Niazi as well as senior journalists Rana Muhammad Azeem, Raja Riaz, anchors Mubashir Luqman and Arif Hameed Bhatti addressed the protesters. Speakers demanded that the government conduct audit of media houses, explaining the advertisements’ payments as well as taxes paid.
Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, speaking on the floor of the house as well as at the demonstration, asserted that the government had neither cut any advertisement nor reduced advertisement rates during its [so far] two-month tenure. He said advertisements were being issued to newspapers as well as news channels without any interruption.
“It is strongly condemnable, if owners of media houses are sacking and cutting salaries of journalists and media workers on the pretext of suspension of advertisements,” the information minister said.
The minister also invited the JAC members at DGPR on Tuesday (today) 11am to show them the record of government advertisements issued to newspapers and channels during the last two months.
The minister said a code of conduct with regard to the media workers was being prepared, which would eventually be passed by the Punjab Assembly.
According to the code of conduct, he said, any complaint by a journalist or media worker about non-payment of salaries for two or more months would empower the DGPR to suspend advertisements for those media houses. He said the advertisements would be restored only after the complainant would withdraw complaint for being satisfied with the media organisation.
JAC convener Azam Chaudhry said the demonstration marked the beginning of a protest movement and all journalists and media workers bodies would continue to hold protests and also besiege the media houses, owners’ offices as well as their residences.
He announced that the journalists and media workers would hold a sit-in outside Lahore Press Club on a daily basis from Wednesday (tomorrow) at 4pm.