PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – September 2021

PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – September 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. 9 September 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

Information Commission orders declassification of all government reports more than 20 years old

Date: September 1, 2021 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) issued an order to declassify all government reports that are more than 20 years old – including those authored by commissions and committees – and directed the Ministry of Interior to take steps to make them public.

Government criticizes opposition parties for opposing PMDA

Date: September 1, 2021 – Source: The News

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry criticized leaders of opposition parties for opposing the establishment of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) without studying the draft proposal.

Lahore sub-registrar fined to denying right to information

Date: September 9, 2021 – Source: The News

The Punjab Information Commission (PIC) imposed a fine of Rs50,000 on sub-registrar Lahore for disobedience and denial of right to information to a citizen.

Government backs convergence of laws to help improve quality of media

Date: September 10, 2021 – Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that it is highly important to converge current media laws and provide one-window operations to media persons in order to facilitate their concerns.

Government assures stakeholders of inclusive talks on PMDA

Date: September 12, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: The Nation, Source 3: Daily Times

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry appealed that the federal government was ready to take all stakeholders on board to reach a consensus on the draft for the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

Government, media bodies agree to form joint committee for PMDA review

Date: September 16, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Dharti News, Source 3: The News

The federal government and stakeholders in the media industry agreed to establish a joint action committee to discuss and review the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

Sindh Assembly condemns federal governments move to establish PMDA

Date: September 18, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune

The Sindh Assembly adopted a resolution condemning and rejecting the federal government’s move to establish the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and the closure of the National Assembly’s press gallery during a joint-sitting of the Parliament.

Government moves court against Information Commission’s order

Date: September 21, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Express Tribune

While claiming that disclosure of any such information could jeopardize international relations, the cabinet division challenged the Pakistan Information Commission’s (PIC) order seeking details of gifts presented to Prime Minister Imran Khan since he assumed office.

Punjab Chief Minister’s Office refuses to reveal expenses, rules under RTI Act

Date: September 23, 2021 – Source: The News

The Punjab Chief Minister’s Secretariat, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, refused to reveal details about fuel expenses of vehicles used by the Chief Minister, their log books and funds issued by the Finance Department.

Case ordered against man for misusing Right to Information law

Date: September 24, 2021 – Source: The News

The Punjab Information Commission (PIC) ordered the Jhang district police officer (DPO) to register a case and conduct investigation against a person who attempted to blackmail the municipal committee chief officer through ‘misuse’ of the Right to Information (RTI) law.

Prime Minister claims ‘unprecedented freedom’ given to media

Date: September 25, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that his government had given unprecedented independence to media in Pakistan but had problems with fake news and propaganda.

Government moved court on questions not asked by information commission

Date: September 25, 2021 – Source: The News

The federal government was criticized for approaching the Islamabad High Court (IHC) when neither the citizen nor the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) asked for naming giver of any gifts to Prime Minister Imran Khan and other government officials alongside details of the gifts received.

National Assembly body adopts journalist protection bill

Date: September 30, 2021 – Source: The News

The Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Human Rights gave approval to the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill 2021 with amendments. The bill will now be presented before the National Assembly for further consideration.

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

PPP announces its participation in protest rally against proposed PMDA

Date: September 1, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced his party’s support to journalists’ protest call against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and termed it an attempt to suppress media and freedom of expression.

Press clubs across Pakistan term PMDA ‘media martial law’

Date: September 2, 2021 – Source: The News

The representatives of different press clubs of the country declared the proposed Pakistan Media regulatory Authority (PMDA) as ‘a media martial law’ and vowed to continue their protest against its establishment.

PML-N for joint opposition committee to block proposed PMDA

Date: September 2, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) decided to form a committee of the joint opposition to block the federal government’s push to establish Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

Jamaat-e-Islami rejects proposed media ordinance

Date: September 2, 2021 – Source: The News

Terming it an attempt at suppressing the voice of independent media, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) rejected the establishment of proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

PIDE research highlights role of media in society

Date: September 2, 2021 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) conducted a research on the role of media in our society and proposed that the participation of subject specialists should be made a priority in prime time talk shows on all channels.

Minister faces tough time as NA body seeks draft law of proposed media authority

Date: September 3, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry faced a hard time during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting as members demanded to see the draft law of the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

Committee formed to review proposed PMDA draft

Date: September 3, 2021 – Source: The News

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting constituted a sub-committee to hold negotiations with journalist bodies for evolving consensus on the proposed draft of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

JUI-F sees media authority bill as tool to gag press in Pakistan

Date: September 4, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) head Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman said that the federal government wants to stifle the voice of independent media through establishment of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

The growing trend of fake news

Date: September 4, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

With India’s mighty digital troll army and its journalists also assuming the role of trolls, the threat of fake news and its damage to civilization is only likely to grow exponentially.

Biggest challenge yet for Pakistan’s fledgling cinema industry

Date: September 5, 2021 – Source: Dawn

All the previous problems of the Pakistani film industry pale in the comparison to its biggest challenge yet – theatres remaining shut due to Covid-19 restrictions on indoor gatherings. Without films, Pakistan’s film culture is doomed to die a quiet death.

Playing the media game in Pakistan

Date: September 5, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan presents a good example of how a society begins to intellectually degenerate in the absence of a robust and independent media that informs and educates the people and encourages rational debate.

Minister terms yellow journalism as biggest threat to freedom of expression

Date: September 8, 2021 – Source: The News

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry endorsed the opinion of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa that fake news and disinformation remains the biggest threat to freedom of expression in Pakistan.

Journalists, lawyers and activists announce joint struggle against PMDA

Date: September 9, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Dawn

Journalists, lawyers and human rights activists announced a joint struggle to fight against the establishment of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and termed it as an attempt to suppress independent judiciary and media in the country.

APNS terms PMDA an attempt to curtail media independence in Pakistan

Date: September 11, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) lamented efforts being made by the federal government to curtail independence of media in the country, the latest being the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

PFUJ appeals for mass participation in anti-PMDA protest outside Parliament building

Date: September 11, 2021 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) appealed for mass participation in its planned protest against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) outside the Parliament House.

Reporters to boycott president’s address to Parliament’s joint sitting

Date: September 12, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA) announced boycotting the presidential address at the joint sitting of the parliament in protest against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

Journalists stage sit-in outside Parliament House against proposed PMDA

Date: September 13, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

Journalists staged a sit-in outside the Parliament House on the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) bill.

Pakistan journalists hold protest demonstration in London against proposed PMDA

Date: September 13, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: The Print

Pakistani journalists in Great Britain held a protest demonstration in London and condemned the Pakistani government’s plans seeking unchecked powers to punish journalists through establishment of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

International Press Institute supports journalists’ protests against PMDA

Date: September 14, 2021 – Source 1: International Press Institute (IPI), Source 2: The News

The International Press Institute (IPI) expressed its support for protests launched by journalists against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) legislation and urged the federal government to withdraw it.

Joint opposition pledges to block passage of PMDA bill

Date: September 14, 2021 – Source: The News

Representatives of opposition parties attended the sit-in organized by journalists against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and vowed to block the passage of the legislation in the parliament.

Digital media – an important platform for speedy transfer of information in Pakistan

Date: September 15, 2021 – Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)

The reach and power of digital media in Pakistan has grown exponentially as it has become an important platform to raise awareness among citizens about their due rights and social responsibilities.

Committee seeks legal explanation of fake news from federal government

Date: September 16, 2021 – Source: The News

The Special Committee of the National Assembly on Information and Broadcasting sought legal explanation from the federal government in connection with the fake news issue. The committee also recommended swift approval of bills for right and safety of working journalists in Pakistan.

PFUJ announces long march against proposed PMDA

Date: September 17, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) decided to issue an open call to hold a long march from Quetta to Islamabad in November against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

PFUJ for strengthening existing media laws, rejects talks with government on PMDA

Date: September 17, 2021 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) dispelled the impression that media stakeholders are ready to hold talks on the establishment of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA). However, the PFUJ announced its readiness to work with the government to strengthen existing media laws.

Joint action committee of media stakeholders reject proposed PMDA formation

Date: September 17, 2021 – Source: The News

The joint action committee (JAC) of media bodies expressed its reservations against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and termed its establishment as unacceptable.

Free media in a democracy

Date: September 17, 2021 – Source: The News

In a rare and welcome show of strength and unity, nearly all media stakeholders and representatives from opposition parties in Pakistan joined hands to protest against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority outside the Parliament House.

Listening to the press in Pakistan

Date: September 17, 2021 – Source: The News

While the government seems committed to protecting the rights of all media equally under the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), the journalist community has faced bitter experiences in the past and want the federal government to genuinely address its grievances.

Court to expedite Shehbaz Sharif’s defamation suit against Imran Khan

Date: September 23, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Geo News

A lower court in Lahore resolved to expeditiously decide a long pending defamation suit filed by Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Stamp issued to mark Newspaper Readership Day

Date: September 25, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Business Recorder (BR)

The Pakistan Post (PP) issued a commemorative stamp on the request of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) to mark the National Newspaper readership Day.

PEMRA fines television channels over remarks against woman cricketer

Date: September 25, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Daily Times, Source 3: The Friday Times

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) imposed a fine of Rs200,000 on television channel Neo News for airing ‘insensitive, demeaning and derogatory’ remarks by sportsperson Abdul Razzaq against woman cricket player Nida Dar.

The trend of deadly misinformation

Date: September 26, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The distinction between ‘fake’ and ‘authentic’ news is now a concept impossible to escape. The newspaper model of today must look within and adjust in the face of contemporary realities an unverified news continues to cause unforgivable social and political mischief.

Government floats proposal to criminalize ‘ridiculing’ armed forced

Date: September 26, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Criminal Law Reforms 2021, prepared by the law ministry, proposed the insertion of a new offence in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) 1860 on the charges of intentionally ridiculing Pakistan’s armed forces.

Curbing media independence in Pakistan

Date: September 28, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Media groups are fully capable of strengthening their own code of conduct for fact-checking, and for regulating rights and wages of their workers. If they do not act, the state may abuse this loophole to occupy further space as it is attempting to by proposing the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority.

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

Minister accuses media owners of inciting workers to protest for ‘bonuses, salaries’

Date: September 14, 2021 – Source: The News

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry accused media owners of inciting their workers to protest for bonuses and salaries on the pretext of opposition towards Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

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 takes strong exception to FIA’s harassment of journalists

Date: September 2, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) took strong exception to the Federal investigation Agency’s (FIA) misuse of authority to harass media persons and the violation of assurances given to the court as well as the standard operating procedures (SOPs) circulated by the Cyber Crime Wing (CCW) of the agency.

Taliban issue warning to journalists in Pakistan

Date: September 7, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Freedom Network (FN)

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issued a warning to national media and journalists of serious consequences if they continue to call the proscribed group a ‘terrorist outfit’.

DIGIMAP asks Facebook to reconsider digital censorship of journalists discussing Taliban takeover

Date: September 7, 2021 – Source 1: Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan, Source 2: Freedom Network (FN)

The Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DIGIMAP) criticized and demanded an end to Facebook’s policy of arbitrarily shutting down accounts of media houses, journalists and activists discussing the takeover by Taliban of Afghanistan and how communities are faring under the new rule.

PFUJ seeks increased security for journalists amid threats

Date: September 8, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) expressed concern over threats hurled by the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) and asked the government and media owners to take immediate steps to increase security for journalists and media workers.

European Union concerned over press freedom, forced disappearances in Pakistan

Date: September 9, 2021 – Source: The News

European Union’s (EU) Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara expressed concerns over human rights, freedom of media and forced disappearances before renewal of GSP Plus status.

Sherry Rehman criticizes closing of press gallery of Parliament for journalists

Date: September 14, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Parliamentary Leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said closing the Parliament’s press gallery for journalists was shameful and condemnable as reporters were banned from sitting in the press gallery to cover the joint session of the Parliament.

Supreme Court summons record of cases filed against journalists

Date: September 14, 2021 – Source: The News

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) summoned the complete record of cases filed against journalists and sought assistance of the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) on Section 27 of the PEMRA Ordinance.

Empty media gallery in the Parliament bewilders President Arif Alvi during address

Date: September 14, 2021 – Source: The News

President Dr Arif Alvi was left visibly bewildered due to the absence of journalists in the press gallery of the Parliament during his address to the joint session.

Supreme Court to set principles to ensure press freedom

Date: September 14, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) decided to give certain guidelines to all stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, regarding freedom of the press and harassment of journalists and media persons in Pakistan.

Police book journalist in Swat on anti-terrorism charges

Date: September 14, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

Police in Swat booked journalist Kamran Bangash in two different cases, including an anti-terrorism charge, after he highlighted cases of tourists robbed while on vacation near Kalam.

Court orders removal of content regarding ownership of Bol News

Date: September 15, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

A lower court in Karachi arbitrarily ordered media watchdog Freedom Network (FN) to remove content regarding ownership of Bol News from its website and other social media platforms.

Militant threat to media in Pakistan

Date: September 16, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Journalists and media workers in Pakistan were issued threats by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) of being treated as ‘enemies’ in the future if media persons continued to label them as a terrorist organization.

Former PEMRA chairman’s petition against Federal Investigation Agency disposed of

Date: September 21, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: The Nation

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) disposed of the petition filed by former chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Absar Alam against a notice issued by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) after the agency withdrew its allegation against the former chairman.

Journalist returns home after brief detention

Date: September 23, 2021 – Source: The News

Senior journalist Waris Raza was arrested and detained for a brief period in Karachi by individuals wearing police uniform. Raza claimed that he was asked about his professional duties and controversial remarks during his detention.

Protest held against abduction of journalist in Karachi

Date: September 24, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) held a demonstration outside the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s (SCP) Karachi Registry against the abduction of journalist Waris Raza who was briefly detained allegedly by law enforcement officers.

Karachi-based journalists complain of mental health issues

Date: September 24, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune

A study conducted by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) found that over 50 per cent of working journalists in Karachi suffer stress, anxiety, depression or other forms of mental health issues relating to their profession responsibilities.

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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