Home Views & Opinions Is something wrong with Pakistan Media Development Authority

Is something wrong with Pakistan Media Development Authority

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It has become a customary to object and criticise each and every action of the government without even going through the details of the matter. There is lot of hue and cry from certain journalists and media groups against the Pakistan Media Development Authority Ordinance 2021(PMDA).Question arises why at this stage government has woken up and wants to regulate and bring new efficient order for the media. In fact successive governments allowed free hand to print and electronic media to write and say anything discuss all type of matters without any reservations at their convenience hoping that red line will not be crossed, but it was taken as a sign of weakness. Some journalists under the cover of freedom of press went to the extent of airing false stories and indulged in character assassination of selective personalities. A TV channel anchor openly criticised President Zardari for 5 years but President never bothered, had government taken some action there was every possibility government may not have brought PDMA. Unfortunately any anchor who indulged in mudslinging, criticised high officials ministers prime minister Business tycoons without any reason and used foul language against army, judiciary thought himself to be a great anchor and used it as a tool to gain cheap popularity.
Every government has the right and authority to amend and make laws for the betterment of the people of each and every segment of society and media is no exception. Gen Musharraf while allowing free hand to journalists and granting TV licenses to anyone who applied for it flooded the country with TV channels without framing rules. Media houses failed to make any code of conduct for journalists and they all presumed that under freedom of speech they can say anything at any time. All over Pakistan we find hundreds of dummy newspapers with no circulation they all call themselves journalists where as they are not. What action has been taken by media associations against them, when they are questioned Article 19 is quoted. We have seen Article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan being referred to time and again but no one has bothered to read it carefully. If on one hand it allows freedom alongside it imposes restrictions that are always overlooked while giving reference to the article. Let us recapitulate article 19 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It says “Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offence. On one hand it gives right to freedom of speech to each and every citizen, on the other hand binds him that this freedom is “subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan………….”
There is a group of few anchors and journalists who are very fond of following negative narrative against judiciary and establishment, it is no more a secret they do it openly without any fear of law and accountability. Let us see how this freedom of press is being enjoyed by the journalists before we actually discuss PMDA ordinance. From 8 PM to 12 we see how this freedom of press is being violated
Anyone is free to label charges against anybody, no problem in carrying out character assassination of any public or private figure, labelling traitor calling them corrupt has become order of the day. Anchors of big channels as a matter of right carry out character assassination of leaders on false stories. Look at the ads and dramas giving wrong message to viewers and spoiling the home culture showing illicit relations amongst the close family members that never happens in our society. Look at the social media and you tube channels the amount of vulgarity being spread heads hung in shame. Tic Tockers videos being loaded simply to spoil the younger generation, if this is called freedom of press it should never be allowed. Unfortunately due to control of TV channels and newspapers by private owners that too in the absence of some code of conduct it becomes the responsibility of the owners to ensure that journalists employed do not cross the red line if this does not happen then government has to take action depending upon the gravity of violation by suspending TV channels licenses and black listing the anchors by imposing heavy fines. No one is above law. Unfortunately PEMRA has failed to establish its writ and has miserably failed to stop vulgarity and dramas depicting Indian culture.
It is good that government has taken firm stand and not willing to allow anyone to defame Pakistan under the cover of freedom of speech, however concerns apprehensions expressed by media must be discussed.