Committee to propose change in laws to tackle issue of fake news: Firdous Awan


ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Wednesday announced that a committee of the Ministry of Information has been formed to propose changes in laws to tackle the issue of fake news and character assassination of individuals on different media platforms.

She was speaking during a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage at Parliament House.

Senator Faisal Javed chaired the committee meeting.

She said that press clubs, All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) would be taken on board for changes in the laws.

She said the changes in laws would be passed from Parliament with consensus. The committee would present its report to the Senate panel by the end of July.

“There is no doubt that the media is one of the most important pillars of the state,” she said while adding that the media had transitioned from print to electronic and now to social media, and the ease with which fake news is generated and spread was a matter of concern for the society.

She stressed that freedom of media should be kept intact but the responsible role of media should also be ensured.

“Since the creation of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) the media has changed,” she said while adding Cyber Wing of Information Ministry, Cyber Crime Wing of Federal Investigation Agency and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was handling different aspects of social media and that with the rise of social media, a vacuum has been created and national interest and social and cultural values were undermined.

Dr Firdous agreed with the senators that character assassination should not be done on social media.

Dr Firdous also said that Pakistan Television (PTV) was facing financial crunch and the nomination of new Managing Director and Board of Directors (BoD) and other measures were taken in the light of the vision of prime minister to improve the working of the organisation.

She said PTV owed Rs 2billion to its pensioners, of which Rs 700 million of the dues would be paid to the retired employees in a week, clearing the backlog of pensioners till the year 2016-17.

PTV Managing Director Aamer Manzoor gave details on revamping of the organisation.

The mover of a point of public importance, Senator Abdul Rehman Malik in the Senate sitting on September 28, 2018, regarding character assassination of PPP leaders on electronic media presented his viewpoint.

He said he wanted to bring Asif Ali Zardari before the committee so that he could tell about his character assassination on the media.

The Senate Committee was given a briefing on working and performance of Lok Virsa.

An officer of Lok Virsa urged the members to recommend to the Senate increase in financial assistance for folk artists and master artisans.