NA Committee suggests disbanding of PEMRA

NA Committee suggests disbanding of PEMRA

Islamabad: Standing Committee of National Assembly on Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has proposed disbanding of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) or to make it an autonomous body accountable to Parliament and not to the Executive.

Standing Committee that held on Wednesday observed that PEMRA has failed to addressed the concerns raised by the Media Commission Report regarding: the restructuring of PEMRA, Autonomy of PEMRA from Executive, Direct Parliamentary Purview & Oversight of PEMRA, Review of the PEMRA Act 2002 (Amended 2007) and Private Monopolies in Media created as a result of the Amended PEMRA Act 2007. Committee believed that without addressing these core issues it is difficult to conceive that PEMRA will be able to respond to the challenges it faces as an independent media regulator. It was therefore recommended that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should undertake an immediate examination of these concerns, with a clear deadline to suggest the best ways and means for implementing the recommendations of the Media Commission.

It was proposed to temporarily freeze (except community licenses), and until transition to digital technology, issuance of licenses for new TV channels as cable TV distribution capacity was already saturated. PTV, PBC APP should be transformed into genuine public service entities consistent with Article 19. New system should be introduced for appointment of Chairman, CEO and Board of Directors. Government should look into options for restructuring the ownership of PTV, PBC and APP to make their ownership more broad based and public service oriented.

It was further proposed that strict and effective action is needed by PEMRA and Press Council to prevent excesses by media against public figures, thereby preventing unfair defamation or ridicule of public figures. Strict action needs to be taken by the Councils of complaints appointed by PEMRA which could include parliamentarians to prevent unfair defamation.

The committee agreed to review the existing (64) laws on Media and added that new laws were required, specifically for advertising regulation, cross media ownership and self regulation of media. The Standing Committee will be having special meetings with legal experts on this critical subject soon and will be appointing a Media Laws Review Taskforce with a 6 month mandate to examine the 64 laws and to propose amendments as well as new laws where required.