PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – July 2023
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. 3, No. 7 – July 2023 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: July 9, 2023 – Source: The News
The Punjab Information Commission (PIC) fined Rs50,000 to the Excise Headquarters Director for not disclosing information regarding transport expenses used by the Excise DG during 2021-2022.
Date: July 14, 2023 – Source: The News
The Punjab Information Commission (PIC) said the attitude of the Lahore High Court (LHC) towards implementation of access to Information Law was deplorable. The commission said that the LHC had not responded with requests made according to the Constitution and law to provide information.
Date: July 21, 2023 – Source: Dawn
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murriyum Aurungzeb tabled the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendments) Bill 2023 and the Press Council of Pakistan (Amendments) Bill 2023 during the farewell session of the National Assembly.
Parliamentary panel unanimously approves PEMRA Amendment Bill, 2023
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting unanimously approved the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Amendment Bill, 2023.
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
Punjab government to crackdown on ‘obscenity’ in theatre plays
Punjab Information and Culture Secretary Ali Nawaz Malik said that the Punjab government had decided to take punitive action against theatre owners, producers and artists who allow and perform obscene acts during plays.
Date: July 2, 2023 – Source: Dawn
Human rights activists condemned makers of Pakistani film ‘Money Back Guarantee’ for stereotyping and insulting the country’s Christian community, both in dialogues uttered by some characters and through the depiction of some ‘props’.
Date: July 10, 2023 – Source: Dawn
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murriyum Aurungzeb said the government was formulating a film finance council and a fund will be established, while the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will also give relief to the cinema industry.
Date: July 11, 2023 – Source: Dawn
Speakers at a media coalition meeting organized to mark the World Population Day agreed that media in Pakistan should highlight issues to remove all forms of discrimination against girls, in terms of diet, education and healthcare.
Date: July 21, 2023 – Source: Dawn
According to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendments) Bill 2023, disinformation and misinformation has been added to the definitions in order to provide legal measures to provide challenges of false, misleading, manipulated, created or fabricated information.
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: July 13, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
The Karachi mayor Murtaza Wahab announced the abolition of charged parking fee for all journalists within the limits of Karachi’s city administration. He also announced increasing the yearly grant reserved for the Karachi Press Club (KPC).
Senate panel briefed on plan to collect Rs15 radio fee in electricity bills
The Ministry of Finance informed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenues that the information ministry had prepared a summary for increasing television and radio license fees from Rs35 to Rs50 and will be collected through payment of electricity bills.
Prime Minister to announce health insurance scheme for journalists
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murriyum Aurungzeb said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will formally launch a health insurance card scheme for working journalists across Pakistan.
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: July 4, 2023 – Source: Dawn
In an interview aired on MSNBC, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan blamed the military for the alleged abductions of journalists and media workers during his tenure as prime minister.
Police get another chance to recover missing anchorperson
The Lahore High Court (LHC) once again gave an opportunity to police authorities for the recovery of anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan whose whereabouts are unknown following his release from jail.
Date: July 8, 2023 – Source: Dawn
The Sindh High Court (SHC) dismissed a petition challenging the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) directives to private television channels to ban the coverage of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its chairman Imran Khan.
Newspaper reporter goes missing in Karachi
Syed Muhammad Ansari, a reporting working for Daily Jang, went missing after being allegedly picked up from a residential compound in Karachi by police and men in plain clothes.
Missing reporter returns home
News reporter Syed Muhammad Ansari returned home a day after he was allegedly picked up by police and men in plain clothes in Karachi. After his return, the journalist said he was blindfolded and his abductors questioned him about his profession.
Date: July 11, 2023 – Source: Express Tribune
Asking a vexing question regarding ‘diminishing space for freedom of speech’ and curbs on media in Pakistan to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif apparently cost a journalist, Azam Chaudhry, his job at state-run Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC).
Date: July 11, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murriyum Aurungzeb said that journalist Azam Chaudhry – who had claimed that he was ‘taken off air’ for questioning Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif – was never an employee of the state-run Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC).
Date: July 19, 2023 – Source: Himal
The mainstream media in Sunni-dominated Pakistan habitually obscures or erases violence against marginalized communities, including Shias. In response to media’s blinkered coverage, activists from persecuted groups have set up different digital initiatives document violence against their communities.
Date: July 20, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
The Lahore Association of Photojournalists condemned the ‘discriminatory’ treatment towards their members during the inauguration of the Asia Cricket Cup Trophy ceremony. It was reported that Lahore-based photojournalists were not invited while television cameramen were able to cover the event.
Film’s release delayed in Punjab over ‘objectionable content’
The launch of Hollywood movie Barbie was delayed in Punjab over ‘objectionable content’. Officials said the film would be reviewed and needed clearance from the provincial board that censors scenes violating Pakistan’s social, cultural and religious values.
HRCP expresses alarm over amendments to PEMRA law
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed concern that the proposed PEMRA Amendment Act, 2023 assigned the regulator the role of disseminating what it terms ‘authentic’ news in a bid to curb disinformation.
Journalist bodies reject PEMRA bill
All representative bodies of the journalists during a consultative meeting chaired by the Karachi Press Club (KPC) president rejected the PEMRA Amendment Bill, 2023 and demanded complete reconstitution of the media regulator as recommended by the two-member media commission.
Date: July 25, 2023 – Source: Dawn
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) and submitted a writ petition challenging a de facto ban on the coverage of all material relating to him and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on electronic media.
Date: July 25, 2023 – Source: Dawn
The Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) received 75 complaints from journalists and media practioners regarding online harassment, threats and hacking attempts during 2022. The complainants included 40 males, 34 females and one trans person.
Date: July 26, 2023 – Source: The News
Contrary to viral information posted on social media platforms, it was the Punjab government that halted screening of film Barbie for airing ‘pro-LGBT content’ after the Punjab Censor Board (PCB) had cleared it for uninterrupted screening in the province.
Date: July 26, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
The Punjab government is yet to allow the screening of film Barbie in the province despite the issuance of a no-objection certificate (NOC) by the Punjab Film Censor Board (PCB).
Lahore High Court disposes of Imran Khan’s plea against media coverage
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan withdrew a petition against a de facto ban on his coverage on news channels after the Lahore High Court (LHC) directed his counsel to approach the media regulatory body’s council of complaints first.
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.