PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – September 2020

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. 1, No. 9 September 2020 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

Pakistan condemns French magazine’s decision to reprint Prophet’s images

Date: September 2, 2020 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

Pakistan condemned in strongest terms the decision by a French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, to republish deeply offensive caricature of Holy Prophet Muhammad.

Chief Minister says Balochistan government believes in freedom of press

Date: September 22, 2020 – Source: Dawn

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani said that the coalition government in the province believed in a free and responsible press and that it had never tried to gag the media or forced it to project the government.

Sindh RTI Commission moved against itself for denying information to citizens

Date: September 24, 2020 – Source: The News

A group of citizens have lodged a complaint to the Sindh Right to Information Commission against the Commission for denying access to the information about the duties performed by the Commission and the budget it spent.

President, Prime Minister reiterate their support for freedom of press

Date: September 25, 2020 – Source: Dawn

President Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan commended the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) on celebrating the National Newspaper Readership Day and reiterated their support for freedom of press and right to information.

Study finds KP government offices most, federal least transparent under RTI laws

Date: September 25, 2020 – Source: Dawn

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has achieved the best and the federal government the worst ranking in terms of transparency and compliance with the mandatory proactive disclosure of information (PDI) clauses of the Right to Information (RTI) laws, according to a study.

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

Late journalist Fareeha Razzaq awarded Tamgha-e-Imtiaz

Date: September 8, 2020 – Source: The News

President Arif Alvi has awarded ‘Tamgha-e-Imtiaz’ to renowned journalist and politician late Fareeha Razzaq Awan on her work on human rights and the efforts she had made during her life in solving the problems faced by women.

Prime Minister says foreign content’s onslaught impacting youth’s moral values

Date: September 19, 2020 – Source: The News

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the decay of local cinema industry not only led to the onslaught of foreign content but also impacted the youth’s upbringing on high moral values.

All Pakistan Newspaper Society encourages reading habits in public

Date: September 19, 2020 – Source: The News

Hameed Haroon, President, and Sarmad Ali, Secretary General of All Pakistan Newspapers Society, have expressed their desire to encourage reading habits in the country with particular emphasis on newspaper reading.

Pemra-PBA body meets to improve drama content

Date: September 20, 2020 – Source: The News

A committee comprising Pemra and PBA entertainment channels met in Karachi to improve the content of dramas aired on entertainment channels.

The rise and fall of Pakistani theatre

Date: September 22, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune

Theatre stage in Pakistan used to be a platform for great artistic expression, but its commodification lead to scripts losing substance and performers choosing money over matter.

National Newspaper Readership Day to be observed

Date: September 25, 2020 – Source: The News

The President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, have commended the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) for celebrating 25th September as the National Newspaper Readership Day.

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

CPNE welcomes government’s decision of direct payments to media outlets

Date: September 4, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune

The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has welcomed the decision of the Punjab Information Department to make direct payments to media outlets for advertisements.

Television channel staff faces unemployment

Date: September 11, 2020 – Source: Dawn

Media workers affiliated with 24NewsHD TV channel are facing job losses after the channel was suspended by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority.

No respite in sight for cinema industry

Date: September 15, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune

Besides online classes in various fields of art, discussion programs on various topics have also resumed. However, the cinema industry remains affected the most financially in the wake of the pandemic.

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

Lawyers, rights groups slam threats hurled at journalists

Date: September 1, 2020 – Source: Dawn

The Pakistan Bar Council, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists in a joint statement “strongly condemned” death threats hurled at senior journalist Ahmad Noorani for writing an investigative piece about the business fortunes of the prime minister’s aide.

Over 100 clerics held over hate speeches, derogatory remarks

Date: September 2, 2020 – Source: The News

Law-enforcement agencies including Punjab Police have arrested over 100 clerics of different sects over hate speeches and derogatory remarks against holy personalities of Islam.

Court extends remand of Jang-Geo Group CEO Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman

Date: September 4, 2020 – Source: The News

An accountability court on Thursday extended the judicial remand of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year old private property case.

Woman journalist gunned down in Turbat

Date: September 6, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune

A woman journalist and social worker, Shaheena Shaheen Baloch, was shot dead allegedly by her husband in Turbat, the headquarters of Kech district.

218 booked over hate speech during Muharram

Date: September 6, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune

Strong legal action has been taken by Punjab police against 218 persons involved in spreading hate speech on social media before and during the month of Muharram.

Shrinking literary and cultural spaces in Pakistan

Date: September 7, 2020 – Source: Dawn

It is about preserving space to speak, preventing dissent from becoming the dirtiest word, and, most importantly, hanging on to an indigenous Pakistani identity and discourse, not one that is imposed top-down to serve the geopolitical interests and political paranoia of our powers that be.

Media Matters for Democracy expresses solidarity with women journalists against online violence

Date: September 8, 2020 – Source: Media Matters for Democracy

Media Matters for Democracy stands in solidarity with women journalists who have released a statement highlighting the prevailing trend of continued digital violence from supporters of all political parties and different public and state institutions.

United Nations decries attacks on journalists and activists in Pakistan

Date: September 9, 2020 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune

The United Nations voiced alarm on Tuesday at growing attacks on journalists and activists in Pakistan, often amid cries of blasphemy, urging Islamabad to protect those facing threats and probe any violence.

Petition filed against social media attacks on women journalists

Date: September 9, 2020 – Source: Dawn

A public petition has been filed by a large number of media persons against social media attacks on women journalists by those affiliated with the government, political parties, their supporters and social media wings, impacting their work, mental well-being and security.

Pemra chairman reviews operations against ‘illegal content’

Date: September 9, 2020 – Source: The News

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Chairman Muhammad Saleem Baig called for making the ongoing operations against transmission of immoral content and illegal channels especially Indian channels on cable television more effective.

Jang Group CEO approaches Supreme Court for bail

Date: September 11, 2020 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

Editor-in-Chief Jang/Geo Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman requested the Supreme Court to set aside the order passed by the Lahore High Court dismissing his post-arrest bail petition in a case relating to a property transaction that took place 34 years ago.

Journalist arrested by police for spreading ‘hatred’

Date: September 12, 2020 – Source: The News

The Karachi Police arrested journalist and social media activist Bilal Farooqi from his residence for allegedly spreading hatred and maligning state institutions. Meanwhile, a sedition FIR has been recorded against senior journalist and ex-PEMRA chief Absar Alam in Jhelum.

Police ordered to file challan against journalist Bilal Farooqui

Date: September 13, 2020 – Source: The News

A judicial magistrate ordered the police to file a challan in a case against journalist Bilal Farooqui. Farooqui was earlier detailed in relation to charges of spreading ‘hatred’ against state institutions.

Culture, vulture and the right to ban

Date: September 13, 2020 – Source: The News

In a country like Pakistan, where poverty and illiteracy dominate the demographics, television remains the most powerful medium for news and entertainment. However, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority remains steadfast in its aspiration to ban content it deems unacceptable.

Women journalists and allies express outrage over murder of Shaheena Shaheen

Date: September 14, 2020 – Source: Digital Rights Foundation

The news of Shaheena Shaheen’s brutal murder has greatly disturbed the community of media practitioners across the country and lays bare the structural insecurity women face in this country.

Ridiculing armed forces, personnel to be a crime

Date: September 16, 2020 – Source: The News

The government introduced the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2020 in the National Assembly to make intentional ridiculing and defaming the armed forces as a punishable crime.

Supreme Court refers appeal in Daniel Pearl case to Chief Justice of Pakistan for early decision

Date: September 16, 2020 – Source: Dawn

A Supreme Court bench referred a set of appeals against the overturning of Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh’s death sentence in the Daniel Pearl case to Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed with a request to fix the hearing within two weeks.

Book by journalist with ‘offensive’ title taken off shelves

Date: September 16, 2020 – Source: Dawn

A recently published compilation of the columns of noted journalist Suhail Warraich was removed from book stalls within a few hours of its arrival. Social media posts suggest that the entire print order of the volume had been “confiscated” and the writer had been forced to delete his promotional tweet.

Journalist booked for ‘propaganda’ against army

Date: September 16, 2020 – Source: Dawn

An Islamabad-based journalist Asad Toor has been booked under defamation and public mischief charges by the Punjab police for spreading ‘propaganda’ against the armed forces.

Vile social media attacks target Pakistani women journalists

Date: September 18, 2020 – Source: The Washington Post

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned relentless social media attacks on women journalists in Pakistan — vicious assaults that have threatened rape and even death.

Banned outfit leader booked for ‘inciting violence’

Date: September 20, 2020 – Source: The News

A case has been registered against a speaker of the Muttahida Sunni Council rally in the capital for allegedly inciting violence and sectarian hatred.

Pemra on drama banning spree

Date: September 20, 2020 – Source: Dawn

Actors and television channel authorities have expressed dissatisfaction at Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s recent trend of banning drama content.

Lawyers weigh in on legality airing speech of ‘proclaimed offender’

Date: September 20, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune

A legal debate has started as to whether the media can air or publish a statement of a proclaimed offender as government authorities have warned media houses of legal consequences if they air Nawaz Sharif’s speech.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan alarmed by registration of cases against journalists

Date: September 25, 2020 – Source: Dawn

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed apprehension over unconfirmed reports that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is registering cases against 49 journalists and social media activists under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), 2016.

PFUJ concerned over fictitious cases against 49 journalists, social media activists

Date: September 26, 2020 – Source: The News

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has shown serious concern and expressed anger over fictitious, fabricated and concocted cases against 49 journalists and social media activists on frivolous charges under Pakistan Electronic Crime Act (PECA) by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Replication of same surveillance provision inserted in two FATF-specific laws

Date: September 26, 2020 – Source: The News

There is an overlap and replication of exactly the same draconian additions in two laws recently passed by parliament relating to anti-money laundering (AML) offences and terror financing.

Minister says no cases registered against 49 journalists, social media activists

Date: September 26, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari dismissed claims of cases being registered against 49 journalists and social media activists in the country by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

PFUJ condemns ‘systematic war’ against journalists

Date: September 28, 2020 – Source: Dawn

Pakistan’s journalist fraternity issued a declaration expressing serious concern over torture, abduction and arrest of journalists, unannounced censorship, and threats to owners and journalists by anti-media forces to compel them to toe the official line or face government’s wrath.

Supreme Court stays release of suspect in Daniel Pearl murder case

Date: September 29, 2020 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court restrained the Sindh government from releasing Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, the principal accused convicted and sentenced for kidnapping and killing Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa reiterates support for complete freedom of press in Pakistan

Date: September 29, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune

Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court has said that anyone curtailing freedom of speech is an enemy of the people and of the Constitution, and must be held accountable.

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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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