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Monday January 24, 2022

All Pakistan Newspapers Society says no to Pakistan Media Development Authority

APNS calls PMDA “an unconstitutional and draconian law against the freedom of press, expression"

By Web Desk
August 11, 2021
APNS rejects Pakistan Media Development Authority. Photo file
APNS rejects Pakistan Media Development Authority. Photo file

The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) on  Wednesday turned down the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

 In a letter, the  APNS called PMDA “an unconstitutional and draconian law against the freedom of press and expression” and requested the  media organisations  to publish and oblige the following statement at their ends:

“The representatives of media organisations i.e. APNS, Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors, Pakistan Broadcasters Association, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors in a joint statement, have totally rejected the proposed PMDA.”

The society termed the proposal to establish the PMDA an attempt to control and regulate all segments of media under an "over-centralised body" by the Centre. 

Furthermore, the society maintained in the letter that the representatives of media organisations also objected to the proposed PMDA.

According to the letter, the concerned stakeholders believe the proposal is aimed at tightening the Centre’s control over the media through a single platform, ignoring the fact that each of the print, electronic and social media are separate entities having their own defined features.

“The move to bring [them] under state control smacks of an authoritarian streak that should have no place in democratically elected dispensation,” reads the letter.

It further states that the media organisations demand a joint meeting of Senate and National Assembly on Information, where the PMDA could be rejected completely.

Govt proposes media ordinance

The federal government had drafted a PMDA Ordinance, 2021, this May.

The proposed law aims to repeal several existing laws:

  • The Press Council Ordinance, 2002
  • The Press, newspaper, news Agencies and books Registration Ordinance, 2002
  • Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) Act 1973
  • Pakistan Electronic Media Ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA Amendment Act 2007
  • The Motion Pictures Ordinance 1979
  • Instead, under the ordinance a Pakistan Media Development Authority will be set up.

What is the PMDA?

The PDMA has been described in the Ordinance as “an independent, efficient, effective and transparent” authority which will regulate all forms of media, including digital media.

In fact, now, under the Ordinance, print and digital media will also need a license to establish and operate in the country.