ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb on Monday informed the National Assembly (NA) that the government was following the policy of zero tolerance against the projection of hate speech and sectarian violence.
Responding to a question during the question hour, she said the ministry was aware of its obligations, under which it was carefully monitoring the print and electronic media to check any content related to sectarian hatred and violence.
Marriyum said that the ministry, through monitoring units established in different organisations under its administrative control, made sure that all publications, broadcasts and advertisements on national level did not contain or encourage sectarianism violence, terrorism, religious discrimination and hate speech.
The minister said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had always taken action against any TV channel for being involved in airing such programmes that went against the norms of the society. She said that PEMRA took action against all objectionable advertisements on television channels.
She further said that according to the terms and conditions of the license and under PEMRA Ordinance 2002 section 20, the person who was issued a license was bound to ensure that all programmes and advertisements did not encourage violence, terrorism, racial hatred, ethnic or religious discrimination, sectarianism, extremism, militancy, pornography, obscenity, vulgarity or any other material offensive to the commonly accepted standards of decency.
She also said that different organisations working under the administrative control of the information ministry monitor the national print and electronic media to point out any objectionable material.
The minister said that the Press Information Department (PID) was keeping a close liaison with the newspapers, magazines and print media organisations like CPNE, APNS, PFUJ, RIUJ and press clubs to keep them cognisant of the government policy against promoting hate speech and sectarian violence. She said that the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) was trying hard to implement the ethical code of conduct for print media in its true spirit.
Furthermore, she said that PCP monitored the print media in the context of hate speech and sectarian violence. The professional bodies of journalists were being reminded time and again to follow PCP’s ethical code and refrain from spreading hate and sectarianism in the society. PCP had sent letters to the professional bodies of journalists as well as to the editors of the newspapers to ensure the implementation of PCP’s ethical code, she added.
She also said that the Press Council of Pakistan in its quarterly meetings with professional bodies of journalists had emphasised on the role of the print media in creating sectarian harmony in the country.
To a supplementary question from Perveen Masood Bhatti, the minister said that morning shows targeted special audience and the viewers had the choice to change the channel. She also appreciated most of the channels for exercising self-regulation and accountability.
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