All media laws will be reviewed to provide an enabling environment to media persons and outfits to discharge their professional obligations with ease and comfort, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf has said.
The AGP chaired three back to back meetings starting from Friday to Sunday (May 27-29) to review media laws for ensuring freedom of speech and press as enshrined in Article 19 and 19 A of the Constitution in light of the Supreme Court’s directives.
He appreciated the role of media persons and outfits as a watchdog of the society and the government, and bringing incidents of noncompliance of rules and regulations in the governance dispensation which, he observed, was necessary to strengthen the democracy in the country.
The AGP said over 300 cases related to the media were pending in different courts. A mechanism would be set place to expeditiously pursue those cases so that speedy justice could be imparted to litigants, he added.
He said the government placed welfare and well-being of the journalists and media-persons on top priority. Although the Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees (ITNE) existed but it did not cover media persons of electronic media, he observed.
Ausaf said necessary changes were being considered to enlarge scope of the ITNE to ensure that media persons of electronic media could also seek remedy of their employment related issues.
He hoped that media persons being the most enlightened part of society were fully committed to discharge their professional obligations within ambit of the existing laws of the country and law, rules and code of conduct of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
He said media was performing an important and vital role in national building by providing quality information, education and entertainment to the people.
He, however, noted that there were a few news and current affairs programmes in electronic media wherein derogatory and insulting language and remarks were used by anchorpersons and participants which was an alarming trend and needed to be discouraged.
He welcomed healthy and constructive criticism which was helpful to the society and to the government.
He also proposed that each media outfit might consider appointment of an in-house media content manager who should be made responsible for editorial supervision to ensure that the content of was in accordance with journalistic norms and precedents and also in accordance with existing laws of the country.
He said the PEMRA’s role as a regulator was to ensure and promote healthy growth of the media in the country.
The attorney general for Pakistan said steps were being considered to ensure that PEMRA was not only made independent in true spirit but it should also look like free and independent in discharge of its mandated functions.
He said all necessary steps would be taken to strengthen PEMRA’s ability to promote healthy and constructive growth of media in the country, which might include reviewing PEMRA’s existing laws, rules, regulations and code of conduct but also to strengthen it administratively to ensure that it was manned by quality human resource and was equipped with state of the art technology tools to regulate electronic media strictly in accordance with relevant legal framework.
He said possibility of setting in place a legal cell was being considered to provide legal aid to those persons who were felt aggrieved by libel slander or defamation and to effectively pursue the media related cases which were pending in different courts of the country.