PMDA Bill to be made Law in weeks: Fawad

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry Wednesday said to table the controversial Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) bill in the National Assembly (NA) in the next 10 days.
According to details, Fawad briefed the Standing Committee of the Senate on Information and said the Bill would be imposed in 45 days after passing in the House.
The meeting of the committee was held under the chairmanship of Senator Faisal Javed. Fawad said they wanted to regulate the media in the national interest and national security and to protect against fake news, gossip, slander, and hate speech.
The federal minister said the PMDA would hold consultative meetings with the stakeholders and after passing the new law, Pakistan Electronic media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) would end. Fawad said they would hold consultative meetings with the representatives of the civil society and the human rights commission next week.
He said the PMDA would have 12 members including a chairman and there would be a directorate of electronic media that would pay the work of PEMRA. The federal Minister also said a media complaint commission and a media tribunal would be constituted to look into the print and electronic complaints. Fawad informed that the commission would be comprised of nine members including four media and four government members and a chairman.
He said the commission would also investigate the complaints filed by the institutions or citizens in their individual capacity.
The representatives of all media organizations have rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), terming it unconstitutional and draconian law aimed at curbing the freedom of the press.
Different media organizations including All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) released a joint press statement on Wednesday in which they rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority and termed the concept as an unconstitutional and draconian law against the freedom of the press and an expression and step towards imposing the state control to regulate all segments of media under the over-centralized body.
The representatives of the media organizations vehemently objected to the proposed PMDA as it appears to be aimed at subjugating the freedom of press and expression. According to the statement, the major stakeholders believe that the PDMA is an attempt to tighten the Federal Government control over the media from one platform and ignores the fact that print, electronic and social media are separate entities, each with their own defined features. The move to bring them under state control smacks of an authoritarian streak that should have no place in a democratically-elected dispensation.