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May 17, 2019

PM directs media dues clearance before Eid

Top Story

May 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to hold immediate consultations with media representatives and take measures for payment of dues before Eidul Fitr.

The prime minister gave these directives while presiding over a meeting here at the Prime Minister Office on the issue of payments to the print and electronic media.

Among others, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Punjab Minister for Information Syed Samsam Bokhari, Special Assistant to PM Yousaf Baig Mirza, Senator Faisal Javed, who heads the Senate Standing Committee on Information, and PM’s secretary attended the meeting.

Imran Khan directed the special assistant to immediately hold consultations with the representatives of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA).

He emphasised that practical measures should be taken for clearance of payments to the media and asked Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan to personally monitor the entire process. He contended that the government was in cognisance of the problems related to the media industry and solution of the same was its top priority.

On this occasion, the prime minister also reiterated that the government strongly believed in the right of freedom of expression within the ambit of the law and the Constitution. “Promotion of free and responsible journalism is vital to strengthening of democracy,” he maintained. The prime minister asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to project the government’s reform agenda through media. Earlier, Firdous Ashiq Awan gave briefing to the meeting regarding the media industry’s issues with a particular focus on dues.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) have welcomed the directives of the prime minister to his media team and officials of ministry of Information to clear the dues of media before Eid.

In separate press releases, the PBA and APNS said the directives of the prime minister to his advisers the officials from federal and provincial governments of KP and Punjab to release the dues before Eid would be wholeheartedly welcomed by not only the media owners, but also the media workers.

They pledged that if all the dues are cleared in one go, the amount will be used for salary dues of media workers.

The dues from the federal, KP and Punjab governments amount to Rs3.4 billion for print and electronic media. The PBA and APNS have pointed out that the Rs3.4 billion does not include the disputed dues from the PPP tenure that amount to Rs3.46 billion, nor do they include the Sindh government dues of Rs2 billion.

The APNS statement pointed out that during his meeting with the APNS in last October, the prime minister had assured that his government would clear the advertising dues of the media, but the assurance could not be implemented by the then concerned ministries.

“The APNS appreciates that the present media team of the prime minister is aware of the gravity of the financial crisis of the media industry and has suggested remedial measures,” said the press release.

The APNS office-bearers said the gesture of the prime minister would help the media industry to brave the acute financial crisis and come forward to take active part in the development of Naya Pakistan. “This bailout package will further strengthen the government-media relations in the interests of the country,” they said.

"This will go a long way in helping the government and media relations and understanding,” the APNS President Hameed Haroon said.

The PBA Chairman Shakeel Masud said, "PBA is grateful that the PM understands the difficulty of media houses and journalists at this time."

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