ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Monday launched its interactive learning programme with media houses and journalists with a workshop to create awareness about electronic media code of conduct.
The topic of the first workshop of the series of the inter-active programme was” Code of Conduct: A Collective Responsibility”.
Leading journalists and television anchor persons participated in the inter-active panel discussion. The topics included ‘media: independent but less responsible?, fake images and fake news: how social media is affecting journalism and ratings vs truth: does Pakistani electronic media follow professional standards?’
Addressing the workshop, PEMRA Chairman Absar Alam said the purpose of the initiative was to have an open discussion on electronic media code of conduct 2015, and to get feedback from the relevant stakeholders on improving the regulatory function of PEMRA and to bridge the gap between the regulatory authority and relevant stakeholders.
He said in next few months PEMRA teams would go to all the four provinces for interactive sessions on electronic media code of conduct and press clubs would also be involved in the process.
Absar said the purpose of the initiative was to mould public opinion about the code of conduct so that the channels should stop violations on public pressure and PEMRA might not be forced to take punitive action against the violating channels.
He said civil society members, reporters and students would also be invited in PEMRA panel discussions to share their concerns and to give their feedback on the effective implementation of electronic media code of conduct.
The PEMRA chairman said the people were getting fed up with sensationalism on the news and current affairs channels, and they were switching to entertainment, sports and religious affairs channels.
He said as per a latest study, 65 per cent people preferred to watch Pakistani drama channels, 36 per cent Islamic channels, 34 per cent sports, 28 per cent morning shows and only 21 per cent news and current affairs channels.
He said due to verbal brawls in political talk-shows, the channels were losing credibility and their viewers were switching over to others, which should be alarming for their management.
Panelist Murtaza Solangi said media’s responsibility was to provide information on public interest but unfortunately that profession had become a business as the objective of most of the proprietors was to earn profit.
Media, he said, provided information which suited the ruling elite or upper class of the society and neglected the rest of the population completely.
He urged the government to issue news channel licences to cooperative parties which would fulfil the vacuum of public interest media.
Matiullah Jan said the code of conduct should be implemented on all segments of the society as one section could not be reformed in isolation. He said PEMRA should create awareness among the masses so that the channels should stop violating code under public pressure.
Amber Shamsi said whenever a journalist joined BBC, he or she was given a booklet on the ethics and training was given to them but unfortunately here in Pakistan no such thing exited for the new entrants to the profession.
Director Public Relations PEMRA Tahir Sheikh said proper homework was not done before airing breaking news which resulted in broadcast of unauthentic news like the plane crash audio.
Rana Jawad said social media was one reason of pressure on the mainstream media news desk. “When a news goes viral on the social media and nobody form the departments concerned verify the news, the news channels are forced to carry the news.”
Hamid Mir said social media’s positive role should also be acknowledged though mostly its negatives were highlighted. He said if 50 per cent clauses of the code of conduct were implemented, PEMRA would practically become irrelevant.
Salim Safi said as in Pakistan the culture of accountability could not be promoted, character assassination of opponents hads become a norm.
Javed Chaudhry said rating system of the TV channels was very faulty as rating was being done on the basis of only 850 metres in the entire country which should be remodeled to European model.
Shaukat Paracha said south Punjab, FATA and Azad Kashmir were totally neglected in present rating system. He said in the news channels, unprofessional decisions are made by someone else but the journalists were blamed.