Digital Desk, Islamabad. Journalism organizations around the world have called on Pakistani authorities to withdraw plans to establish Pakistan Media. Geo News reported that the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) said that the new body would keep tighter controls on the media.
Organizations appealing to Pakistani authorities include the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the International Publishers Association (IPA) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
A statement issued by Van-Ifra said the proposed changes to the existing framework under the pretext of simplifying procedures and fighting misinformation are aimed at decentralizing all media-related regulations under a single authority.
The PMDA will replace media regulatory bodies and oversee films, electronic, print and digital media, from registration to wages, allocation of government advertisements as well as civil and criminal complaint processes, the statement said.
In addition, the statement said serious concerns have also been raised about the proposed PMDA – particularly the perceived lack of media independence from the government as half the members of the authority’s board, including the chairman, would be appointed by the state.
It also said that Van-Ifra, IPA and IJF are concerned with the provision that empowers the proposed authority to shortlist members of the Media Tribunal, punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and fine up to Rs 2.5 crore, Which is about $150,000, while decisions made by the Media Tribunal can only be appealed before the Supreme Court.
In addition, the three organizations have expressed serious concerns about the secrecy behind the process of drafting the PDMA law. The bill has been shared by the government recently and has not received any input from the media or civil society stakeholders.