Thursday July 18, 2024

Media bodies dismayed by PM’s statement

APNS states it appears PM is ill-informed about summary, as print media is not seeking any grant or subsidy from govt

By Our Correspondent
October 26, 2023
Logos of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE).
Logos of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE). 

ISLAMABAD: In their separate statements on Wednesday, the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and Parliamentary Reporters Association of Pakistan (PRAP) on expressed their disappointment at the remarks Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarhuq Kakar made about print media the other day.

The prime minister, while answering a question on the pending summary of the Ministry of Information for an increase in the government advertisement rates, stated that the print media should change its flawed business model and should generate revenue through its own resources instead of depending on government funding.

The APNS stated that it appears that the prime minister is ill-informed about the summary, as the print media is not seeking any grant or subsidy from the government but on the contrary, newspapers publish government ads at subsidised rates.

The APNS maintained that the government advertising rates are far lower than the commercial — about one-fourth of commercial rates, adding the outgoing prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, had announced a long-pending increase in the government advertisement rates, the summary of which is still lying with the Finance Ministry.

The APNS stated that alarmingly, the federal government owes almost Rs2 billion to newspapers towards payment of long outstanding bills. If the respected prime minister thinks this business model is flawed, the print media is prepared to correct the flawed model by withdrawing these subsidised rates being offered to the government by newspapers, the APNS. Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) expressed surprise over inadequate information the caretaker PM has, as he linked media freedom with the government advertisement.

The CPNE said that PM Kakar had been fed with misleading information about media. The CPNE stated that PM’s statement that media had to struggle for its freedom and that struggle would be done through his money. It said that newspapers and magazines had never demanded personal funds, rather every government and every institution is obliged to media for publicity. It said that fund meant for advertisements is not the money of any ruler, rather it is the taxpayers’ money which should be justly distributed under head of advertisements. It said nowhere in the world, governments does business, controls the advertisements and seeks favour from the newspapers and magazines about the matters pertaining to editorial.

The CPNE said that media had not taken its freedom in a begging bowl, as it achieved it through a long struggle with many sacrifices.

The CPNE standing committee in a meeting with prime minster on October 12, 2023, had made it clear that it had no objection to the distribution of ads, rather it wanted implementation of the previous government’s promise about increase in ads rate and clearance of the arrears pending since years.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Reporters Association of Pakistan (PRAP) termed the treatment with media representatives during PM Kakar’s press conference an act of authoritarianism.

PRAP President Usman Khan and Secretary Naveed Akbar Chaudhary, among other officials, expressed concern over derogatory behaviour with the media representatives during the question and answer session at the press conference. They said PRAP believed that the prime minister’s behaviour in the press conference was humiliating.

The PRAP said the PM, instead of talking about his caretaker government’s performance, tried to give a lecture by unnecessarily criticising the media representatives.

They said such a behavior did not befit this important position, adding the PM should not blame the incompetence of his official media team. They condemned the information minister for ordering some media representatives not to enter the Prime Minister House. The PRAP said it would stage a walkout from the Senate against the PM’s behaviour.