In the week from May 30 to June 5, print and electronic media remained less flourished with news related to directives of Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to electronic media.
Newspapers and television channels provided coverage to PEMRA meeting held under presidency of its Chairman Absar Alam that approved the launch of license process for Direct to Home (DTH), PEMRA and Information Ministry stressed to control foreign channels and odd content; President of Pakistan’s spokesperson rejected media reports about the bad health of President Mamnoon Hussain, Pakistan Television (PTV) attack case hearing, and withholding tax at print and electronic media.
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) monitored 46 news, articles, and editorials in 18 daily newspapers in English, Urdu and Sindhi languages that includes Dawn, The News, The Nation, Express Tribune, Business Recorder, Pakistan Today, Regional Times, Jang, Dunya, Roznama Express, Nawa-e-Waqt, Pakistan, Intikhab, Quami Akhbar, Aman, Kawish, Ibrat, and Awami Awaaz.
Electronic media includes 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.
Direct to Home Licensing
PEMRA at a meeting, presided over by its Chairman Absar Alam on June 1 in Islamabad office, approved the launch of DTH service licensing process.
Aaj News, ARY News, Capital TV, Dunya News, and Neo News on June 1 aired this news, while The News and Express Tribune on June 2 published the news that DTH licensing process was approved on the recommendations of an in-house committee. They reported that PEMRA would announce a detailed timeline once the gazette notification of the regulations was issued in this regard.
PEMRA would ensure a transparent mechanism to complete the DTH process by inviting the media persons, representatives of National Action Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, and intelligence agencies to be part of the process from the very beginning. PEMRA Chairman had written letters to the heads of the state organizations to nominate their representatives to be part of PEMRA team overseeing that process.
PEMRA to control foreign channels and odd content
The officials of PEMRA and Senate Standing Committee on Information on May 31 stressed on a more democratic approach for implementing control on electric media.
Aaj News on May 31 and Dawn on June 1 reported the committee chaired by Senator Kamil Ali Agha that foreign entertainment programmes, including drama serials, were polluting the Pakistani culture. PEMRA only took action against news channels, but done nothing against those channels which aired Indian dramas.
Senator Agha said, “In a recent drama, I heard the words ‘Jai Mata Dee’ repeated several times. What are we trying to teach our children and what is PEMRA doing. We need to protect our children and our values. You do not understand the negative impact of these foreign dramas, especially Indian ones, on our children.”
Agreeing with him, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Senator Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob Nasar said Pakistan needed to stop airing most foreign channels which aired odd contents. He explained that one of these channels was the Discovery that telecast people eating haram (forbidden) and horrible things.
In a response, Senator Saeed Ghani and PEMRA Chairman told the committee that airing foreign channels and content was legal, and the regulatory body did take action against channels, as it also had to take public demand into consideration.
In an article in Dawn on May 31, Sahar Bandial wrote PEMRA has stepped up surveillance to enforce its revised and reinvigorated Code of Conduct, 2015 and to rein in ‘errant’ elements in the media.
PEMRA prohibited all current affairs and entertainment channels from broadcasting re-enactments or dramatization of crimes such as rape, murder, suicide and robberies.
Standing committees of Senate and National Assembly had recommended the authority to ban crime re-enactment programmes. Lahore High Court, during the hearing of a petition, also ordered a ban. Furthermore, Punjab Assembly while passing a resolution directed to impose a complete ban on such programmes.
Law enforcement agencies also agreed that airing of such programmes has increased the ratio to entice youth towards crimes and several criminals had confessed to learning new criminal tricks through these programmes.
It has also issued a show-cause notice to Hum TV, demanding an explanation for drama serial Udaari for portrayal of incest in its episodes aired on May 1 and May 8. The scene on May 8 showed a character of his aunt’s husband trying to lure his underprivileged niece to have intimate relations with him. The drama in an earlier episode aired on May 1 showed the same person trying to entice his minor stepdaughter.
PTV attack case
An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Islamabad granted one-day exemption to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chief Tahirul Qadri in a case pertaining to attack on Pakistan Television (PTV) headquarters and the Parliament building in August 2014.
Express News, Neo News and Samaa on May 30 and Daily Express and Jang on May 31 reported that on August 31, 2014, anti-government protesters from PTI and PAT clashed with police while marching towards the Parliament and Prime Minister House. The clash resulted in cut off transmission of PTV News and PTV World for almost half an hour.
Pakistan Today on May 30 published brief stories that the President House’s spokesman has rejected media reports about the poor health of President Mamnoon Hussain. He urged the media to act professionally and verify the facts before releasing news stories. He confirmed that the President was in good health and was performing his routine official duties.
The News on June 1 reported that PEMRA received a complaint from President Mamnoon Hussain against ARY News and Dawn News for airing a wrong news report about his health. PEMRA had been referred to the Council of Complaints for discussions.
The News, The Nation, and Jang on May 30 published Associated Press of Pakistan’s press release that reported Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf held a three-day meeting from May 27 to 29 to review media laws for ensuring freedom of speech and press as enshrined in Article 19 and 19 A of the Constitution in the light of the Supreme Court’s directives.
Attorney General said that the government had kept welfare and well-being of the journalists and media persons on top priority. All necessary changes were being considered to enlarge scope of the Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees (ITNE) to ensure that media persons of electronic media could also seek the remedy of their employment related issues.
He hoped that media people being the most enlightened part of society were fully committed to discharge their professional obligations within ambit of the country’s existing laws and PEMRA’s law, rules and code of conduct.
He welcomed healthy and constructive criticism which was helpful to the society and to the government. He also proposed that each media outfit might consider appointment of an in-house media content manager who should be made responsible for editorial supervision so as to ensure that the content of news was in accordance with journalistic norms and precedents and also in accordance with the country’s existing laws.
He said all necessary steps would be taken to strengthen PEMRA’s ability to promote healthy and constructive growth of media in the country, which might include reviewing PEMRA’s existing laws, rules, regulations, and code of conduct but also to strengthen it administratively to ensure that it was manned by quality human resource and was equipped with state of the art technology tools to regulate electronic media strictly in accordance with relevant legal framework. Electronic media telecast news about well wishes to Prime Minister Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thanked electronic media for telecasting news about well wishes extended to him. ARY News in its breaking news and Dunya News in its tickers on May 30 aired that PM said he was thankful to media. It was noted in the media monitoring that not a single newspaper reported any such statement of PM.
Withholding tax at print and electronic media
92 News, Dawn News, and Express News on June 3; and Abb Takk, and Aaj News on June 4 aired and Jang and Nawa-e-Waqt on June 4 reported the rate of withholding tax for providing or rendering services by print and electronic media was 1 percent, whereas for others it ranges from 8-10 percent and for low margin sectors it was up to 2 percent.
It was proposed that in view of the peculiar nature of the business of print and electronic media, withholding tax for providing or rendering services by print and electronic media be enhanced from 1 to 1.5 percent, and withheld tax may be treated as the final tax in respect of the income from these receipts. Concessionary rate of customs duty on import of newsprint by newspapers and exemption from sales tax on newsprint shall remain intact.
Book published on beat reporting
Regional Times on June 5 published a news that Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) has launched a new book on beat reporting in journalism entitled “Reporting”, which has been written by Shabaz Akmal Jandran. The book is aimed at discussing ideas of beat reporting and providing guidelines to junior journalists.
The book has been published in Urdu language that provides them ideas to improve their professional way in their fields of journalism.