PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – March 2021

PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR

A monthly report on trends relating to state of journalism and media rights, policies and practices

Tracking:

Media related laws, policies and regulations

The state of media professionalisms

The state of media economy

Threats and attacks against journalists and information practitioners

Vol. 2, No. 3 March 2021 Edition

Produced by Freedom Network – www.fnpk.org

SECTION 1: Media related laws, policies, regulations, mechanisms

  • Freedom of expression (FOE)
  • Right to information (RTI), access to information (ATI)
  • Federal and provincial governments (relevant ministries and departments)
  • Media related regulators (PPC, PEMRA, PTA)
  • Regulatory issues related to print, electronic and digital media

Prime Minister apprised of new digital media advertising policy

Date: March 9, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Daily Times

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz and Focal Person to the Prime Minister on Digital Media Dr Arslan Khalid apprised Prime Minister Imran Khan of the proposed Digital Media Advertising Policy.

MPAs briefed on Right to Information Commission’s performance

Date: March 10, 2021 – Source: The News

Provincial lawmakers received briefing on the performance of the Right to Information (RTI) Commission in a meeting chaired by Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) Samar Haroon Bilour at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Secretariat.

Audit shows no Punjab department fully implemented Right to Information Act

Date: March 23, 2021 – Source: The News

The social audit report, carried out by the Punjab Information Commission Act 2013, revealed that no provincial department implemented the Act fully during the past year.

Punjab Information Commission fines PHA official for lying, blocking information

Date: March 26, 2021 – Source: The News

The Punjab Information Commission (PIC) imposed a penalty of Rs10,000 on Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) Rawalpindi Director Administration Muhammad Masood for lying, giving a misleading statement and blocking information.

SECTION 2: The state of media professionalisms

  • Media independence issues
  • Public interest journalism practices and challenges
  • Ethical journalism issues
  • The state of thematic journalism
  • Community-focused media
  • Misinformation / disinformation / fake news

PFUJ announce long march to federal capital to demand end to attacks on freedom of media

Date: March 6, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Pakistan federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) announced a long march from Quetta to Islamabad where they will hold sit-ins and demand an end to the attacks on freedom of media.

Why are Pakistani drama serials trivializing suicide?

Date: March 7, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan’s television drama serials have gone too far when it comes to trivializing something as grave as suicide and are further romanticizing it as the ultimate test of ‘true love’.

Federal minister praises women journalists working in Pakistan

Date: March 9, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz commended the efforts of women journalists for their contribution towards independence of journalism in Pakistan.

Malala Yusufzai teams up with Apple to produce dramas, documentaries

Date: March 9, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Reuters, Source 3: Business Insider

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yusufzai announced her partnership with Apple Incorporated to produce dramas, children series’ and documentaries.

Balochistan government to liaise with media to highlight welfare schemes

Date: March 11, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Balochistan Chief Secretary Motahar Niaz Rana said that the provincial government will take effective steps to liaise with the media to highlight public welfare schemes in the province.

Journalists, lawyers, intellectuals condemn smear campaign against Aurat March participants

Date: March 17, 2021 – Source: The News

Over 1,000 journalists, lawyers, intellectuals and politicians expressed solidarity with the organizers and participants of Aurat March and condemned the smear campaign and concoction of facts to unjustly implicate women leaders in false cases.

Balochistan governor emphasizes the importance of free media

Date: March 23, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Balochistan Governor retired Justice Amanullah Yasinzai said that democracy cannot survive without a fully independent and free media and only a true democratic order was panacea for all the problems being faced by the country.

Sarmad Ali elected new APNS President

Date: March 25, 2021 – Source: The News

The annual meeting of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) General Council unanimously elected Sarmad Ali as President, Jamil Ather as Senior Vice President and Nazafreen Saigol Lakhani as Secretary General.

PEMRA asks television channels to avoid ‘maligning’ National Accountability Bureau

Date: March 25, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) asked news and current affairs satellite channels to refrain from airing ‘unsubstantiated, judgmental and unipolar remarks’ about the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

PFUJ slams PEMRA’s advice to television channels

Date: March 26, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) strongly condemned the issuance of advice banning all satellite television channels to stop analysis on the performance of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Criticism as Prime Minister holds meeting with media team despite testing positive for Covid-19

Date: March 26, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Business Standard

Prime Minister Imran Khan came under severe criticism for presiding over a meeting of his media team at his Bani Gala residence at a time when he is supposed to be under quarantine after having tested positive for Covid-19.

CPNE denounces PEMRA directive as ‘violation of liberties of expression’

Date: March 28, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) expressed concern over the Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority (PEMRA) directive regarding reporting of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) activities and termed it a ‘transgression of press freedom and free speech’.

Taboos, stereotypes in focus at women film festival in Islamabad

Date: March 28, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The fifth edition of the Women International Film Festival held in Islamabad featured a discussion on how women’s representation in films affected the modern-day portrayal of their role.

Role of media sought in anti-rape legislation implementation

Date: March 30, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem urged the media to play an effective role in the implementation of the anti-rape legislation in the country.

SECTION 3: The state of media economy

  • Economic landscape of media industry
  • Impact of Covid-19 on media resilience and sustainability
  • Government and private advertising for media industry
  • Advertising sector and its interface with media industry
  • Business viability and sustainability of media
  • Wages, salaries and arrears of journalists and media practitioners

Cinema business reels from impact of the pandemic

Date: March 7, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The cinema industry of Pakistan is struggling hard to survive during the ongoing pandemic. Limitations on their operations as advised by the government has affected the livelihoods of hundreds of workers employed by cinema groups across the country.

APNS concerned over government’s discriminatory advertisement policy

Date: March 12, 2021 – Source: The News

The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) expressed its grave concern over the disastrous effects of the media policies of the federal and provincial governments and urged upon the governments to consult the stakeholders for their reversal.

APNS calls upon government to review economic policy towards media

Date: March 13, 2021 – Source: Dawn

While expressing grave concern over devastating effects of federal and provincial governments’ media policies on member publications of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the society urged the government to review its economic policy towards media in the country.

CPNE asks government to stop ‘economic murder of journalists’

Date: March 14, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Islamabad Committee of Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) demanded of the government to ‘stop the economic murder of journalists’, resolve their problems and ensure the freedom of expression.

ECC approves Rs1 billion for government’s advertisement campaigns

Date: March 27, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: The Nation

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet approved Rs1 billion for advertisement campaigns to promote activities of the federal government.

SECTION 4: Threats and attacks against media and information practitioners, including online

  • Murders and killings
  • Kidnappings and abductions
  • Arrests and detentions
  • Threats – verbal and written
  • Harassment and intimidation – offline and online
  • Surveillance, hacking and data breaches
  • Legal cases for journalism-related work or free speech
  • Impunity of crimes against journalists
  • Censorship

Federal government to oppose Justice Isa’s live broadcast plea

Date: March 4, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The federal government decided to oppose Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s application seeking the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s (SCP) permission to allow live television coverage of the proceedings of his review petition.

Online attacks on women journalists in Pakistan condemned

Date: March 8, 2021 – Source: Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD)

Media Matters for Democracy, a media rights non-governmental organization, expressed concerns over the continued acts of online intimidation and harassment against women journalists to either silence critical voices or prevent them from carrying out their professional responsibilities.

Federal government opposes live broadcast of Justice Isa’s review petition

Date: March 9, 2021 – Source: The News

The federal government opposed the live broadcast of the review petition filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa against the apex court’s earlier judgement.

Supreme Court judge suggests live streaming of proceedings

Date: March 9, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah suggested to the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) to live stream its proceedings to full public view when no secrets were involved and let common people from across the country have easy access to justice.

PFUJ announces long march from Quetta for resolution of media crisis

Date: March 18, 2021 – Source: The News

Leaders of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) announced the start of a long march from Quetta and a protest movement in Islamabad until the government all anti-media policies are withdrawn by the government.

Government opposes Justice Isa’s petition for live coverage of review petition

Date: March 18, 2021 – Source: The News

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Aamir Rehman informed the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) that the federal government would oppose Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s request for live broadcast of the review petition proceedings.

Supreme Court reserves ruling on live streaming of Justice Isa case hearing

Date: March 19, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) reserved its ruling on Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s request for live broadcast of his review petition’s proceedings.

Journalist shot dead in Sukkur

Date: March 19, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

A group of armed men gunned down Ajay Laalwani, a journalist associated with a private news television channel, while he was sitting at a barber shop in Sukkur.

Journalist kidnapped, tortured by unknown persons in Islamabad

Date: March 21, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Today

Shamim Mehmood, a freelance journalist, was kidnapped, tortured and interrogated for four hours by unknown persons in Islamabad.

Journalist challenges summon by Federal Investigation Agency

Date: March 21, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Senior journalist and former chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) challenged the summons issued to him by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over his ‘controversial’ social media posts.

PFUJ slams ATA cases against journalists by Sindh Police

Date: March 21, 2021 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) expressed serious concerns over registration of cases under the Anti-Terrorism Act against journalists by Sindh Police.

Islamabad High Court suspends FIA notice to ex-PEMRA chief

Date: March 23, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the notice issued to senior journalist and former chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Absar Alam by the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) over his social media posts.

Supreme Court allows shifting of Daniel Pearl murder convict to Lahore

Date: March 26, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: The Nation

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) ordered Ahmed Omar Saeed, who was sentenced to death for the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, to be moved to Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore.

United Nations takes notice of harassment of journalists in Pakistan

Date: March 27, 2021 – Source: The News

A statement from the United Nations highlighted the organization’s concern at the harassment of journalists in Pakistan and praised the judiciary for dismissing meritless charges against them.

Supreme Court observes that entire evidence in Daniel Pearl case is doubtful

Date: March 27, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) held that the entire evidence in the Daniel Pearl murder and kidnapping case is full of doubts and that the prosecution had failed to prove the guilt of the four accused.

Sindh Chief Minister orders probe into journalist’s murder

Date: March 30, 2021 – Source: The News

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah ordered the Inspector General of Police (Sindh) to constitute a joint investigation team to probe the murder of journalist Ajay Lalwani in Sukkur.

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OBJECTIVES: This series of monthly report aims to:

  • Monitor the state of policies, regulations and mechanisms governing the media sector in Pakistan; the state of freedom of expression and right to information environment in the country and how these interfaces with media freedoms allowed or restricted via media regulations governed by the print, electronic and internet regulators.
  • Track the state of media professionalisms in the country including ethical and public interest journalism practices and challenges, and the challenges of misinformation, disinformation and fake news phenomena.
  • Follow the changing economic dynamics of the media industry and how they impact the business viability and sustainability of media and exploitation of media staff in lieu of their wages and arrears.
  • Scrutinize threats and attacks against media and information practitioners, the state of impunity of crimes against journalists and efforts to provide justice for those aggrieved and distressed.

INFORMATION SOURCES: This report monitors, among others, the following sources of information:

  • Government: Federal and provincial cabinets
  • Ministries: Related ministries, including Information and Broadcasting, Information Technology (IT) and Telecom, Human Rights, Science and Technology, Commerce and Industry, etc.
  • Legislatures: Senate, National Assembly, provincial assemblies, relevant standing committees
  • Regulators: Pakistan telecommunications Authority (PTA), Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Press Council of Pakistan (PPC), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), etc.
  • Global organizations: UN/Unesco, International Media Support (IMS), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), etc.
  • National organizations: Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), BoloBhi, Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD), Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), etc.
  • Media: Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, The Nation, Pakistan Today, The Friday Times, etc.
  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Local networks: Journalists Safety Hubs Network, Alliance on Diversity & Pluralism in Media, etc.
  • Any other open public information sources.
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