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Govt intends to regulate social media, says Fawad

By Mumtaz Alvi
November 23, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry Thursday said the government wants to regulate social media, but it will not be possible without coordination with the international giants.

He maintained while speaking here at a conference on national security and media that too much information tends to lead to an increase in conflict, but contended that this issue was not unique to Pakistan.

“This (regulating social media) will not be possible until we have a relationship with international giants like Google, Facebook Twitter and Instagram,” the minister conceded. He again said that there were three different regulatory bodies regulating the media in Pakistan. “We are trying to merge them and make one authority which will coordinate with international bodies. In the future, domestic regulation will be irrelevant and international regulation will be relevant,” he said.

The minister cautioned that the media industry as well as students studying this field need to be mindful of technological advancements. He said the mass communication departments of the universities would have to update their curricula to meet the future challenges. He said the current curriculum of mass communication was not updated and it should be made dynamic to reflect the changing media landscape in the world.

Fawad emphasised that there was a need for the media industry to revise the existing business model, urging the private media owners to develop successful business models for profitability rather than relying on government advertisements to run their businesses.

“We need to evaluate that universities, which are running such media departments, will there be jobs in the future for these students,” he emphasised.

Fawad pointed out that Pakistan was the most deregulated country in terms of media in the world. He said the biggest peril to media was the business model of media organisations itself. The minister made it clear that relying on the government to run their media businesses was not a feasible preposition. He said the government was already under a heavy burden of debt.

The minister explained that it was not the government's job to support media businesses and maintained owing to gradual increase in speed of internet, the shape of media would be quite different in the coming 10 years. “We have to see how much we can cope with international regulations and over time the international regulations will govern the rules of national regulations,” he noted.

Fawad said Pakistan was the most modern country in the world in terms of media development. He, however, cautioned that only those media outlets would survive that would produce quality content to stay ahead in the game of competition, while others would cease to exist.

Efforts were afoot, he noted, to merge the academies of the state-run radio and television as part of proposed Pakistan Media University that would act as a main institution to impart training to students as well as working professionals.