PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – August 2021

PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – August 2021

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. 8 August 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

State media in Pakistan set for digitization

Date: August 6, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to inaugurate the digitization of state media organizations including the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC), Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) and the Digital Media Wing (DMW).

President launches project to digitize state media organizations

Date: August 8, 2021 – Source: Dawn

President Dr. Arif Alvi launched a project to digitize state media organizations including the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC), Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) and the government’s Digital Media Wing (DMW)

Federal government proposes new body to regulate media

Date: August 12, 2021 – Source: The News

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry announced that the federal government intends to scrap all existing laws of media regulation and introduce a new media body which will regulate media in Pakistan.

Federal minister claims press clubs in Pakistan back proposed media regulatory authority

Date: August 13, 2021 – Source: The News

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry claimed that Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and other press clubs in the country supported the formation of proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

Sindh High Court declares PEMRA chairperson’s power to suspend television channels ‘illegal’

Date: August 14, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Sindh High Court (SHC) ruled that the Pakistan media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) chairperson could not exercise discretionary powers to cancel licenses of private television channels without the enactment of rules to structure such discretion.

Federal government confirms formation of umbrella media regulatory body to go ahead

Date: August 16, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry confirmed that the federal government was going ahead with the formation of an umbrella regulatory body – Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) – for all forms of media including print, electronic, film and digital.

Awareness seminar urges importance of RTI laws to promote transparency

Date: August 19, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Experts and students at an awareness and advocacy seminar organized at the COMSATS University agreed that Right to Information (RTI) laws promote transparency and accountability of public and private sector institutions.

Federal cabinet set to approve draft bill to set up new media regulatory authority

Date: August 24, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The federal cabinet seems set to take up and approve the draft bill for the establishment of the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) despite strong opposition to the bill by media houses and workers.

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

Jamaat-e-Islami reiterates support for freedom of expression, independent media

Date: August 2, 2021 – Source: The News

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) amir Sirajul Haq asserted that his party believed in independence of media and freedom of expression and slammed attempts by the federal government at censoring voices of dissent.

Geo/Jang group launches polio awareness campaign

Date: August 6, 2021 – Source: The News

The Geo/Jang group launched a public awareness campaign against polio. The campaign will be carried out in all the group’s channels and newspapers.

Popular Pakistani drama series gets one billion YouTube views

Date: August 8, 2021 – Source: The News

Geo Television’s drama serial ‘Khuda aur Mohabbat’ set a new record by gaining more than one billion views on video-sharing platform Youtube.

Media organizations reject proposed Pakistan Media development Authority

Date: August 12, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Newsweek Pakistan

Representatives of various media organizations unanimously rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and termed it a draconian law against freedom of press and expression in Pakistan.

Senators vow to resist proposed media regulatory authority

Date: August 13, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Business Recorder (BR)

Member of Senate Standing Committee for Information and Broadcasting Senator Irfan Siddiqui criticized proposal of the government to establish Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and branded it as an attempt to subjugate freedom of expression in the country.

PFUJ criticizes misleading statements of government representatives

Date: August 16, 2021 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) rejected misleading statements made by the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry in support of the formation of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

Media bodies unanimously assail attempt to establish umbrella media regulator

Date: August 17, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Peace and Justice Network (PJN)

A joint committee of media organizations in the country unanimously rejected the federal government’s attempt to establish Pakistan media Development Authority (PMDA).

Political parties vow to resist move to regulate media

Date: August 18, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Opposition parties vowed to resist the formation of the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and termed it as an attempt to further gag media and voices of dissent.

Human Rights Watch criticizes proposed media regulatory authority

Date: August 24, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Human Rights Watch (HRW)

The Pakistani government is seeking broad new powers to control media as part of its crackdown on freedom of expression. Journalists, human rights activists, and political leaders raised alarm about the proposed Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMDA) which would lead to greater censorship.

PFUJ rejected attempts by government to promote new media authority

Date: August 25, 2021 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) claimed that government officials are meeting with fake representatives of the PFUJ and are using such meetings to muster support for establishing the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

PPP leader urges government to discard proposed umbrella media authority

Date: August 25, 2021 – Source 1: The Nation, Source 2: Islamabad Post

Rejecting the proposed establishment of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), Parliamentary Leader in the Senate from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman demanded the government to withdraw their proposal.

Lahore-based journalist bodies reject proposed PMDA ordinance

Date: August 25, 2021 – Source: The News

Representatives from different Lahore-based journalist bodies unanimously rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and termed it an attempt at restricting freedom of expression and press in the country.

Journalists herald independent digital news platforms as future of journalism

Date: August 26, 2021 – Source: Geo Television

A panel of senior journalists during an online event heralded independent and responsible digital news platforms as the future of journalism in Pakistan.

Embassy official rejects HRW claims about proposed media regulatory authority

Date: August 26, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Pakistan Today, Source 3: Daily Pakistan (DP)

A spokesperson of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington brushed aside a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) about Pakistani government’s plans to ‘increase its control’ over media by setting up the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

Civil society, journalists to start movement against PMDA

Date: August 26, 2021 – The News

Civil society members, journalists, trade unionists, political and human rights and academics vowed to start a collective movement against the formation of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

Why PMDA is a threat to media freedom in Pakistan

Date: August 26, 2021 – The News

The relationship between government and press in Pakistan is under serious threat not only from the move to control media through the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) but the way the government intends to muzzle media on its own or through other pressures.

Opposition parties assail government plans to establish PMDA

Date: August 27, 2021 – The News

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders criticized the proposed establishment of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and termed it an attempt by the government to throttle media in the country.

Shrinking media space in Pakistan

Date: August 30, 2021 – The News

Whimsical, arbitrary, autocratic and revengeful exercise of power by government authorities to restrict media freedom in Pakistan is the worst practice that people in power should avoid for the interest of citizens and democracy.

Evernew Studios – a picture of Pakistani film industry’s decline

Date: August 30, 2021 – Dawn

The once sought-after Evernew Studios in Lahore now presents a picture of abandonment. This abandonment symbolizes the present condition of the Pakistani film industry.

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

Media’s overreliance on advertisements termed a ‘politico-economic problem’

Date: August 6, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The overreliance of broadcast media on advertisement has created a ‘politico-economic problem’ which can be solved by replacing at least a part of this revenue stream with subscription-generated income.

KUJ provides journalists with accessory kits to pursue digital journalism

Date: August 10, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

The Khyber Union of Journalists (KUJ) provided journalists operating in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with accessory kits to facilitate their switch from print to digital journalism. The accessory kit included a tripod, emergency power bank, a collar microphone and memory storage micro-cards.

PAC debates proposal to scrap residential plot allotment quota for journalists

Date: August 24, 2021 – Source: The News

The Ministry of Housing and Works told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that after the establishment of Federal Government Employees Housing Authority, a proposal was floated to abolish quota for journalists, lawyers and doctors while plots be only given to government employees.

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

Nieman Fellows urge government to investigate attacks on journalists

Date: August 2, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Nieman Foundation (NF)

Over 100 Harvard-educated journalists from around the world expressed concerns over a surge in attacks on journalists and media workers in Pakistan and urged the government to end impunity against such crimes.

Attacks on journalists: PFUJ hails statement of concern by Harvard-educated journalists

Date: August 3, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) extended appreciations over a statement of concern on surge in attacks on journalists and media workers in Pakistan which was signed by 107 Harvard-educated journalists from across the world.

Pakistan criticizes India for refusing foreign journalists permission to travel to AJK

Date: August 5, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: The Hindu

Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureishi criticized India for refusing permission to five India-based foreign journalists to visit Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) through Wagah and attend a session of the region’s legislative assembly.

PEMRA’s latest directive on use of social media videos faces backlash

Date: August 6, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) latest advice on restricting news channels regarding use of social media videos while reporting on natural disasters faced backlash from conventional and digital journalists who termed it as ‘a lesson in absurdity’.

Two journalists released on bail following outcry from media bodies, rights activists

Date: August 7, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Arab News

Journalists Amir Mir and Imran Shafqat were released on bail after outcry from human rights organizations, media bodies and political parties following their arrest for ‘defaming state institutions’ by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Two journalists held in Lahore for defaming state institutions

Date: August 8, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

The Cyber Crime Wing (CCW) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) briefly held two journalists Amir Mir and Imran Shafqat for uploading content on YouTube allegedly ‘against the army, judiciary and women’.

British authorities warn exiled Pakistani political commentators of threats

Date: August 9, 2021 – Source: Dawn

A report released by British and European intelligence services warned Pakistani dissidents who are critical of the military and reside in Europe that they will be targeted given the worsening situation of press freedom in Pakistan.

Global media bodies condemn arrest of two journalists under Cybercrime Act

Date: August 10, 2021 – Source 1: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Source 2: The Wire

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued statements of solidarity with two journalists who were arrested in Lahore and questioned charges framed against them by the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA).

PML-N rejects report branding voices of dissent as anti-state

Date: August 14, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) legislators rejected as misleading a report released by the federal government declaring political opponents and journalists anti-state elements on the basis of assumptions.

Pakistan sets up special cell in Kabul to facilitate evacuation of media workers and journalists

Date: August 16, 2021 – Source: The News

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that a special cell had been set up at the Pakistan Press Section in Kabul to facilitate evacuation of international media personnel.

Journalist admitted in intensive care after attack by political mob in Sanghar

Date: August 16, 2021 – Source: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

Ghulam Qadir Shah, a journalist working for Time News, was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at a local hospital after being attacked by a local political leader’s supporters in Sanghar district.

Pakistani journalists urged to ensure safety while visiting Afghanistan for professional duties

Date: August 20, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

Freedom Network (FN) and other media bodies urged journalists across Pakistan to take safety measures into account while planning their visits to Afghanistan for media coverage.

Supreme Court takes notice of harassment of journalists

Date: August 21, 2021 – Source: The News

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) took notice of harassment of journalists and summoned the interior secretary, director-general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and inspector-general of the Islamabad Police along with their investigation reports.

Intimidating the press in Pakistan

Date: August 22, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Summon notices sent by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) to officials of Ministry of Interior, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Islamabad Police (IP) to explain their version about complaints regarding harassment of journalists brings a welcome relief to the media industry in Pakistan.

Supreme Court puts in abeyance order in journalists’ harassment case

Date: August 24, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) put in abeyance an earlier order by a different bench in the journalists’ harassment case but sought assistance from stakeholders in determining the contours of exercising suo moto actions.

Supreme Court to resume hearing in journalists’ harassment case

Date: August 25, 2021 – Source: Dawn

As the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) resumes hearing in the journalists’ harassment case, senior lawyers suggested that either a larger bench be formed on the matter be put on hold until Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed returns to the country from his foreign tour.

Taliban arrest two Pakistani journalists in Afghanistan

Date: August 26, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

Freedom Network (FN), Pakistan’s leading media watchdog, condemned the arrest of two Pakistani journalists Mateen Achakzai and Muhammad Ali by the Taliban and demanded their release at the earliest.

Supreme Court nixes Justice Isa’s order in journalist harassment case

Date: August 27, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) recalled the two-judge bench’s order of summoning government officials in the journalist harassment case and declared that the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) was the sole authority to invoke or assume suo moto jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

NADRA chairman denies geo-fencing mandate to facilitate journalist attack case

Date: August 27, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Tariq Malik said that the authority has no mandate relating to geo-fencing and DNA testing. Malik was responding to a query related to attacks on journalist Asad Ali Toor.

Attacks against press in Pakistan grow by 40pc in a single year

Date: August 27, 2021 – Source: Reuters Institute (RI)

As attacks against press and working media professionals in Pakistan grew by 40 per cent since 2020, journalists in Pakistan blamed western democracies for not speaking up against the worsening condition of media and freedom of expression in the country.

Consolidating censorship in Pakistan

Date: August 30, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The allegations of a media martial law in Pakistan are not an exaggeration. Government mulling such consolidated censors needs to realize that each medium requires specialized knowledge and dynamics, and is only logical to have independent regulators that are formed through inclusive consultations.

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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