Government Plans To Set Up Media Courts

Government Plans To Set Up Media Courts
Islamabad: The government of Pakistan is planning to set up media courts in order to resolve queries pertaining to media workers and the industry itself.

The said courts will ensure timely justice for the victims of media, besides introducing a new advertising policy and issuing licenses to 58 new TV channels according to Pakistan Press Foundation.

Firdaus Ashiq, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting, said the government along with the Pakistan Broadcasting Association (PBA) is working to develop a mechanism such as a Press Council to address the issues faced by the media.

“The courts will utterly hear the complaints by the media industry against the government as well as the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA),” Awan added.

It is pertinent to mention that the Pakistani media industry is going through a financial crunch resulting in delayed salaries and massive downsizing of workers.

In the aftermath of the government`s announcement, media workers, activists, organizations have expressed their severe reservations to the said courts. The organizations include Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).

APNS in a statement added, "The media is already braving strong pressures in the form of press advice and measures of intimidation from ruling quarters which tantamount to undeclared censorship – the proposed media courts would be an added and institutionalized lever for arm-twisting of the media and [the measure] reflects the mindset of the present center of power that intends to curb voices of dissent by all means.”

In another statement attributed to CPNE, it said, "The formation of media courts is a discriminatory step and such a move will be considered an attack on media freedom and tantamount to increasing pressure on the media and journalists.”

Journalistic bodies were of the view that in the presence of PEMRA and Press Council of Pakistan. There is no further need to stress upon more regulation where the government plans to introduce said courts and Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority.

Rather than increased monitoring, the incumbent government should focus on democratic norms of media freedom, the same was unilaterally expressed by all concerned bodies

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