Print and electronic media in Pakistan highlighted the Supreme Courts of Pakistan (SC) anger over ineffectiveness of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in monitoring the content on news channels, the role of media in stability of democracy and misbehaving of activists of Pakistan Tehrik Insaf (PTI) with a journalist in London.
PPF monitored 18 daily newspapers including Dawn, The News, The Nation, Express Tribune, Business Recorder, Pakistan Today and Regional Times, Jang, Dunya, Roznama Express, Nawa-e-Waqt, Roznama Pakistan, Intikhab, Quami Akhbar, Amn, Kawish, Ibrat and Awami Awaaz.
PPF also monitored the content of 92 News, Aaj News, Abb Takk, ARY News, Capital TV, Dawn News, Dunya News, Express News, Geo News, Jaag News, Khyber News, KTN, Neo News, NewsOne, Samaa and TV One.
The main subject of print and electronic media in Pakistan remained PEMRA. During the period of May23 to May 29 newspapers and television channel extensively covered PEMRA’s use code of conducts to regulate content of television channels. Out of 64 news, articles and editorials in newspapers 33 were about PEMRA and out of 85 news, tickers, programmers and headlines of television channels, 34 were related to PEMRA.
On May 24 the Supreme Court expressed anger at PEMRA for not taking action against television channels for telecasting programmes to sabotage the democratic setup as well as provoking sectarianism.
The Supreme Court bench had taken up the case against obscenity, moved by late Jamaat-i-Islami emir Qazi Hussain Ahmed and retired Justice Wajhiuddin Ahmed. Both had raised concerns about the airing of illegal Indian channels, the broadcast of obscene and vulgar dramas on Pakistani channels, immoral advertisements, illegal CD channels distributed by cable networks, and entertainment segments in news bulletins on Pakistani television channels.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed commented that “discussions in television channels sabotage the democratic set-up, provoke fascism and sectarian differences in society, but PEMRA still runs after vulgarity in television programmes”.
Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, who was heading the three-judge Supreme Court bench, also expressed his displeasure when he observed that the sole purpose of a number of television channels seemed to be the promotion of sectarian disharmony in society.
On May 26, the media covered the Supreme Court on the implementation of the report of the Media Commission. The media directed all the stakeholders to file written statements on the code of conduct for media. The two-member bench of the apex court comprises Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan and Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
Hamid Mir, the petitioner while appearing before the court submitted that except for appointment of a permanent Chairman for PEMRA, the recommendations given by the Media Commission have not been implemented.
Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman however, told the court that a committee was constituted for the implementation of recommendations of the Media Commission which was working on it. Barrister Aitizaz Ahsan, counsel for Pakistan Broadcasters Association informed the court that their role was to formulate code of conduct which was accomplished with the consensus of the parties concerned hence they have no further role to play adding that its now the job of the PEMRA to implement the code of conduct.
On May 26 The News reported the Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Senator Pervaiz Rashid chaired a meeting that decided that in light of remarks of Chief Justice of Pakistan, PEMRA rules and regulations would be made more effective.
On May 27 The News carried the news story that PEMRA in the light of the Supreme Court’s directives warned all television channels to ensure that none of their employees or guests are involved in advocating rolling back the democratic set-up and inciting the Chief Justice or the Army Chief to take any unconstitutional step.The PEMRA has also called for stopping the practice of declaring people traitors, spreading anarchy in society and promoting violence and hate.
On May 29 Dawn, The News, The Nation and Pakistan Today reported that PEMRA had on May 27, imposed a ban telcasting advertisements marketing contraceptives and family planning products. PEMRA warned electronic media of legal actions against them if they violate the orders. However within a day of imposing ban PEMRA realized that promoting birth control measures was part of the national agenda. Therefore, PEMRA in a revised notice allowed electronic media to continue airing these advertisements but not in the prime time.
Issues faced by journalists to perform their duties
On May 27, The News and other media outlets reported on misbehaving of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers with Ali Ahmad Syed, senior journalists for ARY News on May 26 outside Hassan Nawaz Sharif’s flat in London.
This incident was also broadcast by Geo News on May 26 and ARY News in breaking and their tickers on 27 May.
PTI supporters were protesting outside Hassan Nawaz Sharif’s flat in London. Pakistan Journalist Association (PJA) Secretary General Wajahat Ali Khan stated they were deeply concerned over abusive or threatening behavior made by the protesters of PTI London with Ali Ahmad Syed was attending an event at the place in the line of his professional journalistic duty.
On May 28, The News published the story that PJA and Pakistan Press Club (PPC) called on PTI leadership in Pakistan to publicly condemn and expel three activists who were involved in misbehaving the journalist.
Media a tool of spreading awareness
The News and The Nation on May 23 reported role of media in creating awareness among a large segment of society to keep the population under control in order to better utilize diminishing natural resources.
The news story was consisted of words by Dr Tauseef Ahmad, the country representative of the Pathfinder International who addressed a group of journalists at a media workshop on population growth and reproductive health challenges in Pakistan.
Dr Jabbar Khattak, secretary Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and chief-editor of the Awami Awaz Media group present in the workshop strongly urged the media representatives to highlight family planning and population health issues in their stories.
Khursheed Abbasi, secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), said this topic was of the utmost importance to be highlighted in media coverage. AH Khanzada, secretary Karachi Press Club, said media should highlight maternal health issue in newspapers.
Ethics of media
On May 28, The Nation highlighted a conference at ethical journalism was organized by Mishal Pakistan with the collaboration of Allama Iqbal Open University in Peshawar. Balance, honesty, fairness, objectivity, liberty, truthfulness and accuracy constituted the conceptual framework around which journalists activitiesrevolved, discussed in the conference.
Aaj News in its programme ‘Tonight with Rehman Azhar’on May 24, aired views of Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui, journalists for Geo News said, the media wanted to increase rating of the channel and advertisement therefore, telecast re-enactmentof crime scenes and viewers also wanted to watch.
PEMRA in a notification issued on May 20, stated that the authority had received complaints from the viewers about airing of programmes based on murders, robberies, suicides and portraying violation of human rights granted in the Constitution. Therefore, PEMRA decided to ban such shows which re-enact crimes.