First ever bill for safety, protection of journalists soon


ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb on Wednesday said that the government was in the process of promulgating the first-ever bill for the safety and protection of the journalists containing a comprehensive plan for providing safe working environment to them and it would be presented in the cabinet meeting soon.

She made these revelations while briefing the Senate’s Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, chaired by Senator Aslam Bodla here. Marriyum said that the moment she assumed charge as a state minister former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif advised her to bring in the legislation for the protection of the journalists.

She told the committee that an exhaustive discussion had taken place with regard to the Protection of Journalists Bill during the last eight months and the government was contemplating to take joint steps with the media houses for the protection safety of the journalists. She said that all the elements of the bill presented by MNA Tariqullah had been incorporated in the bill in which an appropriate definition of a journalist had also been formulated which includes all working journalists.

The state minister proposed the formation of a sub-committee to work further on the bill and the chairman of the committee acceded to the request. The state minister informed the committee that the council of complaints of PEMRA was being re-constituted and people from different professional fields, lawyers and journalists would be included in it.

She said that PEMRA was an authority and not an investigative body and was working in conformity with rules and regulations enshrined in the relevant ordinance. She said that similarly the PTV Board of Directors had also been reformed in line with the Companies Act 2017.

She told the committee that efforts were on the anvil to improve the performance of TV as an institution and she was personally supervising the process, adding that the cooperation of the parliament as well as the committee was also essential to accomplish the task. She requested the committee to schedule a separate and exclusive meeting regarding PTV affairs.

Marriyum said that she would be ready to brief the committee about PTV affairs and the contemplated reforms whenever the committee so desired. She informed the committee that an FIR had been registered in regards to the fake IB letter about the parliamentarians.

The committee meeting was attended by senators Bashir Awan, Zeb Jaffar, Arifa Khalid, Naeema Kishwar, Fauzia Hameed, Tahir Iqbal Chaudhry, Parveen Masood Bhatti, Muhammad Azhar Jadoon and Malik Muhammad Amir Dogar besides officials of the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, PEMRA and PTV.