Shireen Mazari Criticises PEMRA Order Barring Anchors From Appearing As Experts
Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari has criticised a recent PEMRA order directing TV anchors to not give their ‘opinions’ during talk shows and to not ‘appear as experts’.
In a tweet targeting at the regulatory body’s order, the human rights minister asked who an ‘expert’ was. She questioned if she needed a degree in politics to be an expert in the field. She also pointed out that she did not possess a degree in human rights and asked whether she should appear on talk shows and talk about human rights.
Who is an "expert"? An interesting tho unintended debate has been generated – so purely at an academic non-political level: Do I need a degree in politics to be an expert on politics? I have no degree in "human rights" so should I go on TV to discuss "human rights" issues?
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) October 28, 2019
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has barred television anchors from giving their ‘opinions’ during talk shows and has restricted their role to that of a ‘moderator’.
In an order issued on Sunday, the media regulatory authority, has also directed anchors hosting regular shows ‘to not appear as experts’ in talk shows in both their own and other channels. Moreover, PEMRA has also advised media houses to choose the guests of their talk shows keeping in view their knowledge and expertise in a particular subject.
The directive further stated that participants with ‘credibility as fair and unbiased analysts’ should be selected and anchors should ‘exclude themselves from their personal opinions, biases and judgements’ and should not appear as ‘a subject matter expert’.
In response to the directive, the HR minister was also of the view that this was a debate that the media should focus on, but in an apparent jibe at PEMRA’s order, asked what ‘experts’ would be needed for this debate.
Do I need a degree in IR/Strategic Studies to discuss foreign/def policy? what degree do I need to talk about Information? Is expertise defined by a degree? Finally we have a debate at an abstract level media shd focus on! But what "experts" wld be needed for such a debate on TV?
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) October 28, 2019
Moreover, journalist Hamid Mir voiced his strong disapproval over the directive, saying that PEMRA was making fun of laws by dictating anchors not to appear as experts.
Pemra is making fun of our laws by dictating anchors not to appear as experts in TV shows I am a journalist since last 3 decades I have the right to express my opinion through my column or any other way I know it’s not Pemra someone else is angry why anchors not listening him https://t.co/w0tMWKIgaN
— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) October 27, 2019
Academic and activist Shama Junejo came out in support of the order, reminding her audience that the role of anchors is to moderate the programme.
The role of anchors is to moderate the programme. They are not the experts- #Pemra
Though controversial as some political experts became anchors but at least now illiterate experts aka anchors will be chained. pic.twitter.com/M0ly4F9bYZ
— Shama Junejo (@ShamaJunejo) October 27, 2019
Journalist Muhammad Malick urged the media community to take a firm stand against PEMRA’s order.
The media community must take a firm stand against Pemra order barring journalists from speaking their mind in TV programmes on the pretext of not being “subject experts”. What a farce, this does not happen anywhere in the world and surely we must not allow it here as well.
— Mohammad Malick (@MalickViews) October 27, 2019
PEMRA’s order and the criticism against it have received varying responses from people. While some were critical of the order, others supported the view that people should restrict their analysis to the area of their expertise. One Twitter user opined that businessmen could not be asked to give their opinions on the economy.
Yes, experts needs to good knowledge of their operational domains. Anyone who used to run a business or act as a consumer or workers can have operational knowledge but we can not allow him to give lectures on economy and economic reforms or any other field of study
— Nayar (@Nayar786) October 28, 2019
In response to the minister’s question about a person needing a degree to give their opinion, another user stated that a person who is not an expert on a topic should not be allowed to appear on TV and confuse the public.
Yes, u should have a degree. A person not an expert on a topic should nt be allowed to speak on tv. Using the platform to confuse public & misusing it is dangerous. It is imp to hav strict rules to control media. Anchor persons today act as if they can do anything & knw evrything
— Umair Hassan (@umairhsn) October 28, 2019
Another user disagreed with the minister and pointed out people needing training and expertise to diagnose diseases and perform surgeries.
Do I need a degree to diagnose and treat disease? Should I undergo some sort of “formal training” to perform open heart surgery? Serious question, completely academic and non political, and certainly not related the recently introduced NLE.
— Mangogh (@ManhattanMango) October 28, 2019