World Press denounces new Media Entity planned by Pakistan

World press

New Delhi, Oct 7 : The World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the International Publishers Association (IPA), and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have called upon Pakistani authorities to retract plans to establish the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), saying that the entity would place “strict state controls over media”, Geo News reported.

A statement issued by WAN-IFRA stated that the proposed changes to the existing frameworks under the pretence of “simplifying procedures and fighting misinformation” aim at centralising all regulations pertaining to media under a single authority.

“The PMDA would replace the media regulatory bodies and would oversee “films, electronic, print and digital media” across every domain, from registrations to wages, licensing to the allocation of government advertising, as well as both civil and criminal complaints procedures,” reads the statement.

Moreover, the statement said that serious concerns have also been raised regarding the proposed PMDA – notably a perceived lack of independence of media from the government as half of the authority’s board members, including the chairman, will be appointed by the state, the report said.

It maintained that WAN-IFRA, IPA, and IJF are alarmed by the provision that vests the proposed authority the power to shortlist members of media tribunals, to hand down punishments of up to three years in jail, and fines of up to a Rs 25 million – which is approximately $150,000 – while the decisions made by the media tribunals can only be appealed before the Supreme Court.

In addition to this, the three organisations have expressed serious concerns about the secrecy behind the process of drafting the PDMA law, with the bill having only recently been shared by the government and receiving no input from media or civil society stakeholders.

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