PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – December 2020
A monthly report on trends relating to state of journalism and media rights, policies and practices
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. 12 – December 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
Date: December 3, 2020 – Source: The News
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) organized an informative session for members of the Young Parliamentarians’ Forum (YPF) on the Right to Information Bill.
Date: December 9, 2020 – Source: The News
A report released by the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) revealed that the highest number of complaints were registered against departments by citizens and organizations in 2020. The report further highlighted transparency issues in the public domain.
Date: December 16, 2020 – Source: Dawn
Prime Minister Imran Khan regularly holds meetings with official and semi-official spokespersons of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the officially-released statements from these meetings usually make headlines on television and newspapers.
Date: December 25, 2020 – Source: Dawn
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued notices to Naeem Bokhari, secretaries establishment, information and broadcasting along with the attorney general in relation to a petition filed against the appointment of Naeem Bokari as chairman of Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) board of directors.
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
Date: December 1, 2020 – Source: Dawn
Narratives are extraordinarily durable. If a well-executed media policy is not going to subvert the ‘false’ narrative of Pakistan portrayed by the west, it only leaves the option of genuine policy changes to counter such charges.
PNCA to build national archive for Pakistani films
Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) called upon individual collectors and organizations to join its campaign to set up a comprehensive archive for Pakistani films as this initiative will help preserve the country’s film culture and heritage.
Minister says revival of film industry on government’s priority list
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz addressed the concerns of a delegation of Pakistan Film Producers Association (PFPA) and assured them that the development and revival of film industry in the country remained on the government’s priority list.
Date: December 6, 2020 – Source: The News
Speaking at the launch of his new book, senior journalist Mazhar Abbas highlighted the difficulties faced by journalists in Pakistan while practicing independent journalism.
Date: December 7, 2020 – Source: The News
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Vice President Maryam Nawaz urged media houses and practitioners in Pakistan to function independently and refuse to become ‘a tool for anyone’.
Date: December 9, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) announced that the planned drive-in cinema in the federal capital is expected to open for the public before the end of this year.
Date: December 13, 2020 – Source: Dawn
Ratings drive television content and are notoriously less about creative satisfaction than bringing in advertising revenue. However, many in the entertainment industry believe that the fear of low ratings prevent channels and producers from experimenting frequently.
Date: December 15, 2020 – Source: The News
Expressing views at an online workshop for health journalists, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Dr. Faisal Sultan emphasized on the role of media in preventing spread of misinformation about Covid-19 in Pakistan.
Date: December 17, 2020 – Source: Dawn
Officials from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and district administration cleared a legal hurdle for the screening of movies to continue at the newly-inaugurated open air theatre in the federal capital.
Date: December 20, 2020 – Source: Dawn
Analysts chose to overlook the impact of restrictions placed by the government and other factors on the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) rally in Lahore and instead focused on reflecting the narrative of the most potent political player.
Date: December 20, 2020 – Source: Dawn
The public was the principle focus of journalistic content, not the state, as it is now, and there was greater diversity and pluralism in themes and voices in media. Journalism also tended to be educative in nature, not just info-dumping as it has now mainly coalesced into.
Indian television channel fined over anti-Pakistan content
The British television regulatory authority slapped a fine of £20,000 on India’s Republic television’s Hindi channel for broadcasting hate speech against Pakistan.
Date: December 23, 2020 – Source: Dawn
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) expressed pleasure at the launching of its official Facebook page and Twitter account as means of expanding their digital outreach.
Date: December 24, 2020 – Source: The News
Hameed Haroon, President, and Sarmad Ali, Secretary General of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) congratulated members of the society on winning the Excellence Awards at the Beijing International Public Service Advertisement Creativity Competition 2020.
Date: December 27, 2020 – Source: Dawn
Participants of a workshop in Islamabad said it is the responsibility of the media to highlight violation of fundamental rights of women, minorities, transgender persons, and children as government departments tend to take action only on pressure from the media.
Date: December 29, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune
Participants of the sixth China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Media Forum appreciated the function of media as an engine for the development of CPEC and making the infrastructure megaproject a ‘household name’.
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
Date: December 2, 2020 – Source: Dawn
A large number of journalists, media workers, rights activists and other members of civil society marched to register their protest against what they alleged ‘retrenchment of workers, forced resignations, non-implementation of the Eights Wage Award and salary cuts at Dawn newspaper.
Date: December 8, 2020 – Source: Dawn
Newly appointed Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) chairman Naeem Bukhari signed an order terminating the services of eight senior officers hired on contractual basis. The termination orders claimed that the state-owned organization was short of finances.
Pakistan Television’s Christian workers get honorarium
Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) Chairman Naeem Bukhari gave honorarium to the Christian workers of the state-owned broadcaster on the occasion of Christmas. The chairman gave the honorarium through his personal account.
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
Date: December 4, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune
The counsel for the Sindh government informed the Supreme Court bench that a witness had last seen Daniel Pearl, the slain journalist, with Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the prime accused in the kidnapping and murder of Pearl.
Live coverage of Justice Isa review plea hearing sought
Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa requested the apex court to allow live television coverage of the proceedings of his review petition against the majority judgement that referred the matter of his family’s properties to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
Date: December 8, 2020 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)
Freedom Network (FN) condemned the murder of an independent Christian journalist, Qais Javed, in Dera Ismail Khan and demanded authorities to provide justice to Javed’s bereaved family.
Date: December 9, 2020 – Source: The News
Members of the Supreme Court bench hearing appeals against an earlier order of the Sindh High Court (SHC) questioned the ambiguity in confessional statements made by one of the accused in the Daniel Pear kidnapping and murder case.
Date: December 9, 2020 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)
Freedom Network (FN) condemned the assault on two journalists by Lahore police. The assault took place after the journalists requested police authorities for a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) registered against a local vendor due to ‘political’ reasons.
Date: December 11, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune
The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP), while hearing pleas against acquittal of the men accused of killing American journalist Daniel Pearl, observed that evidence supporting confessional statements held no value in case they were given under duress.
Date: December 15, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz heaped criticism on Pakistani news channels for ‘hiding the truth’ and the ‘unsatisfactory’ coverage of Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) political rally in Lahore.
Date: December 15, 2020 – Source: Dawn
It is a damning indictment of a state that had failed to protect the country’s media workers who fulfill an essential role in a democratic system as Pakistan once again featured on a list of countries with the largest number of journalists killed in the last 30 years.
Date: December 16, 2020 – Source: The News
In Pakistan, the guarantees for press freedom as held by the constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights seem to now largely be a thing of the past. With more and more journalists likening present times to the dark days of the Zia dictatorship, the situation continues to seem bleak.
Date: December 16, 2020 – Source: Dawn
A counsel representing the parents of slain journalist Daniel Pearl submitted a DNA report in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) to establish the fact that a body found in Karachi after the journalist’s murder in 2002 was that of Daniel Pearl.
Date: December 18, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune
The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) observed that it will not accept new documents in the Daniel Pearl case appeals, as those documents were neither presented in the trial not in the Sindh High Court (SHC).
Date: December 19, 2020 – Source: The News
Members of the Parachinar Press Club (PPC) slammed the attack on the house of a Kohat-based journalist and demanded the arrest of the accused involved in the attack at the earliest.
Date: December 20, 2020 – Source: The News
Two Sukkur-based journalists, Imdad Phulpoto and Altaf Kalwar, were allegedly attacked by three unidentified persons.
Date: December 20, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune
The counsel for parents of Daniel Pearl, the murdered American journalist, produced a letter in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) in which accused Ahmed Omar Sheikh revealed that the real culprit of the slain journalist’s kidnapping was a militant, Attaur Rehman, from Karachi.
Date: December 21, 2020 – Source: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
A group of assailants attacked two journalists working for Abb Tak in Sindh. The attack was allegedly in retaliation for publishing stories exposing mafia operations in the region.
Date: December 23, 2020 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)
A local journalist, Malik Nizam Tani, was attacked and murdered by unidentified assailants in Gujrat. Journalist bodies condemned the incident and demanded early arrest of the unidentified attackers.
Journalist shot dead in Muzaffargarh
Malik Nizam Tani, a correspondent of an Urdu daily, was shot dead some 20 kilometers away from Muzaffargarh city. Sources closed to the deceased revealed that the journalist had been receiving threatening phone calls for some time.
Sindh High Court orders release of accused in Daniel Pearl killing
The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered the release of British-born Pakistani Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three others charged for the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
United States concerned at Sindh High Court order in Daniel Pearl case
The United States State Department expressed concern at the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) order to release four men charged with their involvement in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.
Date: December 27, 2020 – Source: Express Tribune
Sindh government decided not to free the four men accused of kidnapping and murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl in view of a Supreme Court order despite directions by the Sindh High Court (SHC) to release the accused.
Date: December 28, 2020 – Source: Dawn
2020 has been a bleak year for global media freedoms. Recent reports from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) underscore the threat to free media, and highlight the worsening situation, even in ostensible democracies.
Date: December 30, 2020 – Source: Dawn
Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that a case will be registered against Mufti Kifayatullah for his diatribe against the armed forces of Pakistan.
United States announces intention to try Daniel Pearl murder mastermind
The United States Attorney General announced that the United States ‘stands ready’ to try a militant convicted of murdering American journalist Daniel Pear whose release was ordered by a Pakistani court.
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.