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January 10, 2017

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Pemra aims to build public opinion on code of conduct: Absar

Pemra aims to build public opinion on code of conduct: Absar

Speakers agree media houses
ought to abide by the code

ISLAMABAD: Noted anchors, journalists and media persons on Monday discussed in detail the scope and role of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), the Code of Conduct 2015 and importance of self-accountability by media houses and anchorpersons. 

They shared consensus that time had come for TV channels and media houses to abide by the code of ethics. They attended the launching ceremony of a countrywide interactive training programme Pemra is going to hold with TV channels and media houses.

The speakers highlighted the need for responsible reporting and content-check at the newsroom level. The launching ceremony was divided into panel discussions which were addressed by noted anchors and media persons and attended by a large number of journalists, members of civil society, reporters and students. 

Addressing the workshop Pemra Chairman Absar Alam said the purpose of the initiative was to have an open discussion on electronic media code of conduct 2015 and to get feedback from the relevant stakeholders on improving the regulatory function of Pemra and to bridge the gap between the regulatory authority and relevant stakeholders.

He said in next few months Pemra teams would go to all the four provinces for interactive sessions on electronic media code of conduct and press clubs would also be involved in the process.

Absar said purpose of the initiative was to mould public opinion about the code of conduct so that the channels should stop violations on public pressure and Pemra might not be forced to take punitive action against the violating channels.

He said civil society members, reporters and students would also be invited in Pemra panel discussions to share their concerns and to give their feedback on the effective implementation of electronic media code of conduct.

The Pemra chairman said the people were getting fed up with sensationalism on the news and current affairs channels and they were switching to entertainment, sports and religious affairs channels. He said as per a latest study 84 percent people watch news bulletins, 65 per cent people preferred to watch Pakistani drama channels, 36 per cent Islamic channels, 34 percent sports, 28 per cent morning shows and only 21 per cent news and current affairs channels.

He said due to verbal brawls in political talk shows the channels were losing credibility and their viewers were switching over to others which should be alarming for their management.

Topic of the first panel discussion of the day was “Media: Independent but less responsible.”

Noted columnist Ammar Masood was the moderator of the first panel discussion while eminent media persons Murtaza Solangi, Matiullah Jaan, Amber Shamsi, GM Operations Pemra Tahir Sheikh and Ali Gilani Advocate were among the panelists. Amber Shamsi shared her experience of work in BBC where every anchor/producer has to learn by heart the code of conduct before going on air.

Murtaza Solangi former DG Radio Pakistan said the media owners needed to learn that journalism was not like other businesses. It is something very sacred and responsible. Ammar Masood said self-accountability was an evolutionary progress and it found its roots in the social and cultural roots of the society.

Legal expert Syed Ali Gilani briefed the audience about the Code of Conduct and its various clauses related with violations. Tahir Sheikh said mostly Pemra received complaints about News & Current Affairs programmes. Matiullah Jaan was of the view that Pemra’s actions should not be set aside by the courts of the country. 

Topic of the Panel Discussion II was “Fake images and fake news: how social media is affecting journalism?” Amber Shamsi was the moderator while anchor persons Salim Safi, Hamid Mir, Fareeha Idrees, Rana Jawwad and Rehman Azhar were the panelists. Hamid Mir was of the view that at least Pemra was there to check spread of fake news from social media to electronic media. However, he said he supported positive use of social media. 

Fareeha Idrees said on social media one could see character assassination of Malala Yousafzai and no one is there to check abuse of social media. Rehman Azhar and Rana Jawwad said newsrooms were under the immense pressure of fake news spreading on social media. Hamid Mir held some politicians and lobbies of political parties behind spread of fake news on social media. He said, "We follow Geo Asool under which we check the news twice."

The last panel discussion was on ‘Rating vs Truth’. Eminent investigative journalist Umar Cheema was the moderator while Zafar Malik, Shaukat Paracha and Javed Chaudhry were among the panelists. Javed Chaudhry said the current rating system is under the monopoly of certain institutions of the country.

Earlier, too, they were managed with the help of viewers in Karachi, Lahore and other big cities. Shaukat Paracha regretted Fata and south Punjab populations were never taken into confidence while determining the rating of a particular TV channel. 

 

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