PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – July 2021

PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – July 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. 7 July 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

Punjab governor signs Privilege Amendment Bill into law despite reservations by journalists

Date: July 2, 2021 – Source: The News

Punjab Governor Chaudhary Mohammad Sarwar signed the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2021 into law. However, he promised that all reservations expressed by journalists and media workers will be addressed and all stakeholders would be taken on board over the bill.

Punjab government declines to disclose details under Right to Information law

Date: July 8, 2021 – Source: The News

The Punjab government declined a request seeking details of vehicles provided to ministers, advisers and parliamentary secretaries under the right to information law.

Gilgit-Baltistan to make its own Transparency and Right to Information Law

Date: July 11, 2021 – Source: The News

The Gilgit-Baltistan government started work on making its own law on the lines of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013.

Government, opposition agree on live coverage of high-profile cases

Date: July 13, 2021 – Source: The News

In response to the allegations put forward by the Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) to let the media carry out live broadcasts of high-profile cases involving politicians.

Punjab Assembly amends law targeting journalists

Date: July 14, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Daily Times, Source 3: Journalism Pakistan

The Punjab Assembly amended The Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill that had recommended jail terms for journalists for reporting things that may violate privileges of the provincial assembly’s members.

Punjab University official fined for not providing information under RTI law

Date: July 17, 2021 – Source: The News

The Punjab Information Commission (PIC) imposed a fine of Rs25,000 on Punjab University (PU) Deputy Registrar and Public Information Officer (PIC) Ahmad Islam for not providing information to an applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Government finalizes digital policy after consultation with stakeholders

Date: July 25, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: Daily Times

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry announced the finalization of the digital policy for newspaper websites after successful consultation with the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE).

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

Zulfiqar Bukhari wins first round in defamation case against Reham Khan

Date: July 2, 2021 – Source: The News

Former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis (SAPM) Zulfiqar Bukhari won the first round of a defamation case filed in the United Kingdom against Reham Khan regarding allegations of corruption and money laundering against him in various publications and YouTube videos.

President urges halt to unverified and fake news in Pakistan

Date: July 2, 2021 – Source: The News

President Dr Arif Alvi strongly discouraged the flow of unverified and fake news on online and other mediums of information exchange as it creates panic in the society.

Zulfiqar Bukhari served Rs2.17 billion defamation notice on Bilawal Bhutto over irresponsible remarks

Date: July 2, 2021 – Source: The News

Former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Zulfiqar Bukhari sent a Rs2.17 billion defamation notice to Bilawal Bhutto after he raised objections over the former Special Assistant’s alleged visit to Israel.

Bias and Blackface – the deep rooted colorism in Pakistan’s entertainment industry

Date: July 5, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Dark skin is a feature that can hardly be called scare in Pakistan. However, the country’s entertainment industry continues to churn out characters played by actors with purposefully darkened skin, with filmmakers lamenting the dearth of dark-skinned actors as a futile attempt at justifying their choices.

Increasing curbs on press freedom in Pakistan

Date: July 6, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The smooth passage of the draconian Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2021 with such far-reaching consequences for the independence of media and freedom of expression should concern citizens across Pakistan.

Election Commission finalizes new code of conduct for media election coverage

Date: July 15, 2021 – Source: The News

A meeting of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission was held to finalize the code of conduct for media in connection with holding of general elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Media urged to ‘identify and defeat spoilers of peace’

Date: July 31, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Express Tribune

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa urged media stakeholders to ‘identify and defeat spoilers of peace’ as no one should be allowed to derail the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan.

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

Government to merge PTV, Radio Pakistan to better resource utilization

Date: July 9, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The federal government decided to merge its news operations in Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan to reorganize state-run broadcast mediums and improve resource utilization.

Employees oppose government plan to take over Radio Pakistan’s land in Quetta

Date: July 18, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Employees of the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) staged a protest against what they claimed the Balochistan government’s plan to take over the land of Radio Pakistan in Quetta and close some programs.

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

Islamabad High Court extends suspension notices issued against journalists

Date: July 1, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) extended the suspension notices issued by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to journalists Bilal Ghauri and Asad Toor and sought a reply.

PFUJ expresses concern over minister’s remarks on journalists ‘staging’ attacks against them

Date: July 2, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) expressed concern over remarks made by Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary that some journalists ‘staged’ attacks on themselves to strengthen their case for seeking political asylum outside Pakistan.

Journalists up in arms against ‘anti-democratic’ media law in Punjab

Date: July 2, 2021 – Source: Asia News International (ANI)

Various journalist groups and unions from across Pakistan announced a rally in Lahore to protest against the passage of the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2021, terming it as ‘anti-democratic’ and ‘anti-media’.

APNS, PBA, PFUJ reject anti-journalist bill passed by the Punjab Assembly

Date: July 3, 2021 – Source: The News

Various media and human rights organizations rejected the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2021 terming it an attempt to suppress media freedom in the province.

Journalists in Peshawar protest media bill criminalizing criticism of elected parliamentarians in Punjab

Date: July 5, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

Journalists staged a protest in Peshawar to condemn the passage of the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2021 as it criminalizes criticism of parliamentarians elected to the Punjab Assembly.

Prime Minister Imran Khan features on Press Freedom Predators gallery

Date: July 5, 2021 – Source 1: Reporters without Borders (RSF), Source 2: Freedom Network (FN)

Prime Minister Imran Khan featured in the ‘Press Freedom Predators 2021’ gallery published by Reporters without Borders (RSF) as attacks on journalists and press freedom in Pakistan increased during the last two years.

Journalists reject changes to controversial Punjab bill

Date: July 6, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Lahore-based Joint Action Committee (JAC) rejected the amended Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2021 terming it an eye-wash aimed at cooling down tempers of the journalist community across the province.

PML-N terms RSF report a charge-sheet against ‘anti-democratic’ government

Date: July 6, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurungzeb claimed that the report published by Reporters without Borders is a charge-sheet against the authoritarian attitude of the federal government against freedom of expression and attacks on journalists.

Journalist tortured in Sadiqabad during police custody

Date: July 6, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

Media rights organizations demanded a probe after a video surfaced of a journalist bearing signs of torture in Sadiqabad during police custody.

PFUJ concerned at FIA notices to Karachi-based journalists

Date: July 10, 2021 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) expressed concern over issuance of notices to Karachi-based journalists Ashfaqur Reham and Mashood Aslam by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and termed it as an attack on freedom of press.

Muzzling voices of dissent in Pakistan

Date: July 11, 2021 – Source: The News

The passage of the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the later reconciliatory statements by the Speaker of the Punjab Assembly indicates that this legislation was prepared and passed in haste and with an intention to muzzle dissent against lawmakers in the province.

Restrictions on media in Pakistan

Date: July 12, 2021 – Source: The News

The European Union (EU) expressed concern on the shrinking space of media in Pakistan that may be both damning and consequential. The use of third degree tactics against media persons, perpetrated by state actors to silence voices of dissent is condemnable.

British citizen appears in UK court for plotting to kill Pakistani blogger in the Netherlands

Date: July 20, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

British Pakistani Gohir Khan appeared at a court in the United Kingdom accused of plotting to murder the Pakistani blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya in the Netherlands.

Police arrest journalist in Shikarpur

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

Former president of the Shikarpur Press Club (SPC) Sultan Rind was arrested in a case registered by the personal assistant of a provincial minister for a story highlighting use of substantial material used for construction in the Shikarpur district.

Pakistan sees surge in silencing of mainstream and social media

Date: July 23, 2021 – Source: The Diplomat

Officials in Pakistan argue that the coming of the digital media era has made new forms of regulation necessary. Governments, however, should mandate corporate transparency especially on the incentives that grease the wheels of disinformation instead of imposing increasing curbs on media platforms.

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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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