LAHORE: The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) on Friday rejected Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s statement regarding the clearance of half of the total dues of the media houses and asked the prime minister to advise the concerned ministers to honour their word and to clear the dues.
“APNS and PBA take strong exception to the statement of Fawad Chaudhry in which he has claimed that around half of the dues of media industry have been paid to media houses and yet none of that amount has been used to pay salaries of workers,” the press release said.
Chaudhry was quoted as saying that half (Rs0.6 billion) of the $9.6 million (Rs1.3bn) have been released to media houses who kept all of the money for themselves instead of paying their journalists.
“Such statements are false and can create conflict within the media industry. Previously also the minister has been making disparaging public remarks against the news media industry which is highly regrettable,” the press release stated.
APNS clarified that the dues owed to media by the federal and provincial governments are over Rs8bn and not Rs1.3bn. It said that the government has not even released 10 per cent, “let alone half of the Rs1.3bn fictitious figure given by the information minister”.
Out of the Rs8bn, around Rs3bn is overdue for more than 4 years, and the rest of Rs3bn is overdue by nine months to 15 months. The majority due is of federal and Punjab government.
The press release further said that Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had called a special meeting to facilitate the settlement of media dues. He had asked the federal and provincial governments to clear the undisputed dues within 30 days. “However, even after 60 days almost the dues still remain unpaid. Both the federal information minister and the federal finance minister were present in this meeting.”
The joint statement by PBA and APNS criticised the remarks by Chaudhry “as not only being inaccurate and misleading but also not befitting a federal minister”.
“To set the record straight, so far not even 10 per cent of the total amount owed by the federal and provincial governments has been paid, despite assurances given by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the APNS Executive Committee on October 16 and subsequent meetings and joint forums of PBA and APNS with the government,” the press release added.
The press release further said that Chaudhry “appears to be misinformed by his ministry. It is recommended that he should reconfirm his facts before making public statements, as incorrect and false information, would reflect upon his credibility and status”.