LAHORE: Journalists and media workers staged a demonstration at the Charing Cross on Friday to condemn downsizing in media houses, accusing the government of encouraging publishers and TV channels’ owners to throw their staff in the street.
PPP’s Hasan Murtaza also spoke and expressed solidarity with the protesting journalists, assuring full support of his party and its Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
“We will support you within and outside the assembly. Our party has always supported the media community. Bilawal has already shown this by attending your demonstration in Islamabad last month,” he said.
The demonstration was organised by the Joint Action Committee that consists of former and present presidents of the Lahore Press Club and leaders of media trade unions and unions of journalists.
Carrying placards, journalists and media workers raised slogans against the owners of media houses for firing their staff and the government for supporting them. They also condemned the opposition parties for keeping mum over the treatment being given to media workers and journalists.
They also burnt effigies and tyres, and also blocked The Mall to lodge their protest against sacking of their colleagues.
JAC members condemned Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry for his statement on Thursday that the future of media in Pakistan was bleak and therefore the young generation should stop getting media education. They said this statement exposed government’s designs of paralyzing media.
“On the one hand the prime minister is talking of building five million houses and on the other his government is supporting the media houses in destroying us,” said Punjab Assembly Press Gallery President Khwaja Naseer.
Others said that when the government was damaging media in Pakistan with the help of its owners, the opposition was watching all this silently which was regrettable. “The government wants to weaken and control media in Pakistan,” Shahbaz Mian said.
Former LPC president Arshad Ansari said hundreds of media workers and journalists had been fired all over the country so far and reports indicated further retrenchments. He severely criticised federal and Punjab information ministers for their conduct and said that instead of taking a notice of the downsizing, the government was helping the media owners fill their coffers.
Speakers announced they would stage demonstrations in front of assemblies, government offices and the residences of media owners, against delaying salaries and sacking of staff. They also announced an in-house meeting of the JAC to review strategy for further agitation.LPC President Azam Chaudhry, Rana Azeem, Ziaullah Niazi and Naeem Hanif were present.