Info ministry refutes claims of APNS, PBA


–Information Secretary Shafqat Jalil says PTI govt committed to supporting media industry

KARACHI: Federal Information and Broadcasting Secretary Shafqat Jalil met the officials of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) on Friday and shared his concerns regarding the figures of advertisement dues released by the society and Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA).

During a meeting with APNS General Secretary Mr Sarmad Ali, Jalil termed the figures of advertisement dues released by APNS and PBA disputed.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, he said, has been critical of the use of advertisements as a tool to influence media by the previous government. He emphasised that the present government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is committed to a policy of equitable and fair distribution of government advertisements.

The info secretary said that the federal government is clearing the payments of Rs 320 million while another estimated Rs 180 million is being processed for payments. The outstanding dues pertaining to the Punjab government of nearly Rs 150 million will be released shortly, he assured.

Jalil informed Mr Sarmad Ali that to find a permanent solution of the issue, a draft of the new advertisement policy has been circulated among stakeholders, including PBA and APNS.

“The government is committed to freedom of expression and supports media industry. Any proposal to help media industry in their ease of doing business would be given serious consideration by the federal government,” he assured.

Earlier on Friday, the APNS and PBA had rejected Fawad’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”.