In an effort to compile a code that would dictate media behavior in light of the war against terrorism, a session chaired by Marvi Memon was held on Tuesday at the Parliament House. The session, which dealt with various issues in information and broadcasting, was attended by committee and national assembly members as well as officials from PBA, APNS and CPNE.
During proceedings, it was suggested that strict action be taken against those engaging in terrorism on social media and discrimination based on religious hatred.
It was also revealed that currently, no civilian institution in the country is monitoring the 100 million people on social media in Pakistan (we think this figure is lil exaggerated). In light of the information, the Interior Ministry was urged to create a special cell to control social media.
Currently, no civilian institution is monitoring the social media population in Pakistan, which numbers over 100 million
The Committee noted that TV licensing rules clearly state that channels must dedicate 10% of their air-time to public awareness messages but right now, no private TV channel is following that guideline even though the cost for non-compliance includes heavy fines and suspension of license.
In response, Secretary General of the PNS, Sarmad Ali, said the private channels air various public awareness messages related to education, health and other issues. However, he acknowledged that there was a gap in understanding on this particular matter between the government and TV channels. The Chairperson gave instructions to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to resolve these misunderstandings with the private TV channels through dialogue.
The refusal of TV channels to adhere to a rule that mandates 10% of air-time for public awareness messages was also the topic of discussion
Member committee, Parveen Masood Bhatti, said that all TV channel licenses should be subject to renewal every 3 years instead of the current 15 year time period, just like newspapers. He added that any channel that does not comply with the 10% airtime rule for public awareness messages should be automatically banned from getting a license renewal.
Chairperson also asked about the details for the Editorial committee. that would oversee broadcasts being delayed by a few seconds to make sure nothing objectionable is aired. In response, Sarmad Ali, Secretary General of the APNS, said that he would have to get a written response from the members which would require some time.
Suggested rules would ensure privacy for terrorism and rape victims and ban TV channels from making every tragedy a media circus
The committee also suggested that newspapers and TV channels should be banned from carrying messages from terrorists while it was also suggested that in events like a bomb being planted somewhere, coverage should only go ahead after a green signal by the Interior Ministry and the government.
APNS, PBA and CPNE opposed the proposals and said it wouldn’t be possible to wait for approval from the government as bombs could detonate in the process and a delayed report could end up hurting people.
It was also advised that visuals and broadcasts of terrorist attacks should not be shown in prime time. If they are to be broadcasted, it should be done late at night and even then, they should not be shown in a continuous loop. Furthermore, terrorism and rape affectees should have their privacy and their personal details and pictures should not be shown without explicit permission.