Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting, National History, and Literary Heritage in its meeting has asked the caretaker government to take cognizance of concerns on unannounced censorship and take all steps to address these concerns so as to ensure media freedom as enshrined in the Constitution.
The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Faisal Javed Khan here at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended among others by Senator Moula Bux Chandio, Senator Rubina Khalid, Secretary Information, Broadcasting Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera, Afzal Butt President PFUJ, Mubarak Zeb Khan President RIUJ, Chairman PEMRA, Principle Information Officer among other journalists.
The Committee also directed the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage should take the issue of unannounced censorship and reported ban on circulation/ broadcast of a newspaper/private TV channel to the Federal Cabinet so that a holistic view of the matter is taken and necessary instructions to the concerned quarters are passed for addressing these concerns.
Mr. Afzal Butt said that there are two major issues facing the media. First is the unannounced censorship on media across the country. The second issue was ban on circulation of Daily Dawn as well as broadcast of Dawn News in the cantonment areas. Mubarak Zeb Khan, President RIUJ, provided some details of specific issues and concerns.
Secretary Information and Broadcasting Division informed the Committee that as per government’s stated and clear policy, media freedom and equality with all media houses are being ensured. He added that the Division and all its allied departments are discharging responsibilities within their domain in fair and impartial way, all advertisements are being given on equality basis including Daily Dawn, there’s absolutely no censorship from the Division, however, media houses have been asked to follow Election Commission of Pakistan’s laid down code of conduct in letter and spirit. He also brought on record that as of the time of holding of the meeting, no formal complaint had been lodged by Daily Dawn or Dawn News channel with PEMRA or PID with regard to censorship or ban on circulation or broadcast respectively in any part of the country.
The Chairman Committee observed that Caretaker Minister for Information should have attended the meeting to apprise the Committee of government’s stance on media concerns. He also said that media freedom needs to be ensured and it is the responsibility of Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage to take ownership of all such matters and address all issues facing the print and electronic media in the country.