ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi said Friday the media, being the fourth pillar of the state, was playing a crucial role in strengthening of democratic culture and values in Pakistan.
Addressing the Pakistan Media Convention under the aegis of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) here, Arif Alvi acknowledged the fact that the media was disposing its responsibility of informing, educating and entertaining the masses professionally and responsibly.
He was of the view that the print media was facing multitude of challenges presently, including the one posed by social media. He pointed out that the younger generation was hooked more to the social media than print publications.
The president, however, said opinion makers still rely on print media. He emphasised the need for developing independent media business models and said sustaining of media business should be based on self-reliance rather than depending on government advertisements. He said media freedom was a fundamental right but it should be exercised with responsibility and self-regulation, rather than censorship by authorities.
Speaking on the occasion, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry urged the media to highlight public problems and to pursue the narrative that was in the country's economic interest. He called on the media to come up with a sustainable financial model.
Fawad believed that the media sustainability was also linked with the economic sustainability of the country and noted that foreign investment of billions of rupees was pouring in with Saudi Arabia setting up the third largest oil refinery in Pakistan, but the media had not given due coverage to it.
Fawad pointed out that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project was a backbone for Pakistan’s economy. He, however, regretted that the media sometimes bought the Western narrative, which was anti-CPEC and anti Pak-China relations.
The minister made it clear that the media could not be free until the government had commercial interest in it. The media, he emphasised, was in need of a sustainable financial model so that it could not rely on the government.
Citing the print media in the United States, the minister contended that The New York Times and Washington Post would never ask US President Donald Trump for provision of ads for printing of newspapers. He noted the government had released Rs90 million under advertisements for print media in last 10 days and the government was issuing ads worth 300-350 million to print media in a month. He said the advertisement budget was Rs86 billion, which could reach $1.75 billion with economic development.
The minister said the government was committed to solve media problems in consultations with the CPNE and press clubs and added both should analyse as to what exactly led to the media crisis so that in future such situation could be averted.
“We believe in openness and are doing away with visa restrictions for the citizens of 66 countries. The media at this juncture should stand by the economy,” he said.
“We fully stand shoulder to shoulder with the media workers and extend full support to them. However, ultimately the media will have to emerge as a sustainable model ending dependence on the government,” he said.
Earlier, President of CPNE Arif Nizami highlighted the problems faced by the media industry especially the print media.