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Media Matters for Democracy Raises Concerns Over PMRA, Requests Procedural Details Of Ambiguities In Draft

Media Matters for Democracy, a Pakistan based non-profit working to defend freedom of expression, media, Internet, and communications in Pakistan, has sent an official reply to the federal government over the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA).

Earlier this week, the federal cabinet approved formation of PMRA, a single body aimed at regulating all forms of media e.g. broadcast print and social media.

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

Also read: A New Law Intends to Regulate The Media. It Reads More Like A Control Mechanism

To this end, Media Matters for Democracy has written an official reply after analyzing the draft that was sent to them.

Here are the key points:-

‘Express serious concerns about the possible human rights implications of the said Authority, especially its impact on freedom of expression, right to information and right of privacy as embodied in Article 19, Article 19(A), and Article 14(1) of the Constitution of Pakistan.’

‘Remind the government that as per the interpretation provided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, reasonable restrictions in the context of Article 19 have to be non-oppressive, proportionate and fair.’

‘Urge the government to ensure that parliamentary oversight of the Authority is assured through the engagement of standing committees of the National Assembly and the Senate.’

‘Request the government to share details about policy and procedural details of various ambiguities in the draft of the scope of the mandate, in particular.’

Following are the questions asked by MMfD regarding the draft:-

  • What are the operational definitions of key elements including digital media, social media, regulation, monitoring etc.?
  • Is there a distinction between personal/private and commercial use of social media, and if so, what is the distinction?
  • How will the monitoring of digital media be operationalised?
  • What is the complete list of departments and organisations that would be merged in PMRA?
  • Is there a distinction being made between the regulatory mechanisms of private and public media?
  • What protective mechanisms are being put in place to ensure transparency and independence?

The non-profit body also urged the government to “take a progressive human rights-based approach to media and Internet regulation and move away from models that are regressive and authoritarian”.

What do you think about PMRA? Write in the comments section below

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