Vibrant media vital for strong Pakistan: Firdous

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ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Wednesday highlighted the importance of media in national development and said independent and vibrant media was vital for a strong Pakistan.

She expressed these views while making her maiden appearance in a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting here after becoming the SAPM.

The committee meeting, chaired by Mian Javed Latif, welcomed Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and expressed confidence that under her leadership, both opposition and the government, would get equal media coverage without any biased approach.

Dr Firdous said the government was ready to work with opposition parties to improve the working of national broadcasting institutions if there was any deficiency or gap. “If the opposition or committee feels that there is any gap, it can be bridged with the effective participation of parliamentarians. Define a policy and give a roadmap, my team will follow it.”

The SAPM said she believed in the independence of media, adding no government could move forward by ignoring the important role of media in highlighting and addressing public issues.

Responding to some queries of the committee members, Dr Firdous said there was a crisis in the media industry and journalist community was passing through difficult times.  She said 85 per cent of total advertisements to media houses were contributed by the private sector and the government’s share was just about 10 to 15 per cent.  The SAPM said the incumbent government inherited pendency of payments to media houses on account of official advertisements from the previous government.

She said figures of both the government and media houses about advertisements and payments were not matching, for which a mechanism was being evolved in consultation with all stakeholders to rationalize and clear the pendency.