Saturday September 18, 2021

Stakeholders reject Pakistan Media Development Authority Ordinance

June 02, 2021

KARACHI: A joint meeting of representative media organizations including All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ, Barna Group), PFUJ (Dastoor Group) and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) have totally rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) Ordinance 2021 and termed the concept an unconstitutional and draconian law aimed against freedom of press and expression and step towards imposing the state control to regulate the establishment as well as operation of all segments of media.

The joint meeting was of the unanimous opinion that the proposed PMDA is intended to hinder media freedoms and take control over the media by the top information bureaucracy. The concept is an attempt to tighten federal government hold over the media through one draconian authority, ignoring the fact that print, digital and electronic media are separate entities each with their own defined features and respective regulatory laws. The move appears as an extension of now defunct Press and Publications Ordinance 1963 (PPO) of Ayub Khan era to all media platforms with regimental provisions to take over the independent and free media. This has no place in a democratically-elected dispensation, stated the joint declaration.

The joint meeting decided to resist the establishment of PMDA at all levels including legal recourse, protest measures and advertising campaigns to educate the public against this blatant attempt to subjugate and control the media and curtail peoples’ right to know.

The meeting decided to form a Joint Action Committee of APNS, PBA, CPNE, PFUJ & AEMEND to decide further actions and seek support from political parties, bar associations, human right organizations and other segments of the civil society to oppose the proposed attack on media and urged upon the federal government to immediately withdraw the proposal.

It may be mentioned that Pakistan Bar Council and Human Right Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the PFUJ the other day had also rejected the proposed PMDA. “The proposed law is draconian in scope and devastating in its impact on the constitutional principles and guarantees for freedom of expression, media freedoms, and the right to information as well as the profession of journalism,” they said in a joint statement.