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Attack On Media Freedom? Cabinet Approves Formation Of PMRA

The federal cabinet has approved formation of Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA), a merger of all media regulatory bodies, which will watch over the broadcast, print and social media.

It was announced that with the formation of PMRA, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) will be merged together.

Information and Broadcast Minister Fawad Chaudhry says that PMRA would guarantee that all the media should be regulated through one body.

The government says that under the proposed regulator, one-window operation will be introduced to address complaints and other regulatory aspects related to the media.

However, journalist community countrywide is irked by the move and believes that PMRA goes against the notion of freedom of expression and they would not be defeated by such ‘black laws’

Here is what they have to say:

‘Can’t say much because the draft is still half-baked’

Naya Daur spoke to Media Matters for Democracy co-founder Sadaf Khan who said the draft was still half-baked and it was difficult to have a concrete say on it for now.

She added that Radicalism, misinformation, disinformation and hate speech need regulatory mechanisms but they can be countered via the existing laws. ‘We will need to analyze existing laws to find out whether new ways of regulation are needed or not’.

Sadaf added: “Government also needs to define the draft. For example, what would be the process of regulation and how would it be implemented”.

As far as misuse is concerned, Sadaf said that the country has witnessed a lot of cases of it throughout history. “The PMRA would be directly working under the federal government and there is no mention of parliamentary oversight. So, when there would be no parliamentary oversight, there will be suspicions.”

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