Ministry directed to submit draft legislation approved by cabinet


ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting directed the Ministry of Information to submit all the draft legislation, approved by the federal cabinet, pertaining to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), the Press Information Department (PID), the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) and other related Acts in the next meeting for consideration of the committee.

The committee was held under the chairmanship of MNA Jawaria Zafar.

The Standing Committee on Information sought a detailed briefing regarding Arshad Sharif’s murder. She said no briefing has been given to the committee regarding Arshad Sharif’s murder, so far.

The committee condemned the violence against journalists in Islamabad High Court (IHC). The chairman said the journalists were prevented from carrying out their responsibilities by the police.

The committee was told that the bill regarding the protection of journalists would also be considered in the upcoming meeting.

The Information Minister, Marriyum Aurangzeb, said that a meeting had been held with the Ministry of Interior on the issue of violence against journalists in the IHC. She said journalists were prevented from going to the IHC.

The interior minister sought a report on the incident of violence against journalists, Marriyum Aurangzeb said.

MNA Naz Baloch said that legislation should be made regarding journalists so that journalists should not feel unsafe. The campaign against women journalists should also be discussed, she added.

While briefing on the matters raised by the MNAs regarding increasing obscenity on electronic/print media, the secretary Ministry of Information apprised the committee that the PEMRA is not a censoring body, however, in order to monitor the transmission of private satellite TV channel licensees, a state-of-the-art monitoring system has established. She informed at present, the PEMRA is monitoring the content of all its licensed satellite TV channels. In case, if any channel airs immoral, obscene or objectionable content in violation of the PEMRA Laws, Rules and Code of Conduct, action is taken against the violator as per PEMRA laws. Moreover, the PEMRA has issued various guidelines to satellite TV channels on drama, morning shows and Ramzan transmission etc, she added. The Chairperson (Javaria Zafar Aheer, MNA) and the committee members were of the view that proper legislation should be made to prohibit all licensees from propagating obscenity/indecency through their programs, dramas, and advertisements. The federal minister said that legislation has been completed and approved by the federal cabinet. Members of the committee expressed their concern over content against social values in dramas and TV commercials.

The information secretary said that every province had a Council of Complaints. The Council of Complaints was authorised to hear complaints.

There was no board to censor plays, only film censor board, the secretary said.

Since 1972, the fee for censoring a film was Rs250 and now it was being increased to Rs1,000. If the government wanted to make legislation regarding censoring dramas, it could, the information secretary said.

Jawaria Zafar said the content of this drama should be watched before the drama comes on the air. Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the legislation would be made regarding censoring dramas.

27 advertisements which were against social values have been banned, Chairman PEMRA Salim Baig said.

Media houses get injunctions from courts, he said.

The committee directed the director general (PBC) and the press information officer (PID) to brief the committee about the working and performance of their respective departments for the last five years.

Later, the Committee deferred the private member’s bill, titled, “The Indecent Advertisement Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2022” (moved by Muhammad Jamalud Din, MNA) along with other legislative business and decided to consider the same in the next meeting.

The meeting was attended by Nadeem Abbas, Kiran Imran Dar, Dr Nafisa Shah (through vide-link), Zulfiqar Ali Behan, Naz Baloch and Prof Shahnaz Naseer Baloch, MNAs. The Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting (Marriyum Aurangzeb) attended the meeting through video-link. The senior officers from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Ministry of Law and Justice, PEMRA, PID, and PBC were also present in the meeting.