Wan-Ifra, IPA and IFJ call on establishing PMDA

The PMDA to replace existing media regulatory bodies

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Wan-Ifra, IPA and IFJ call on establishing Pakistan Media Development Authority
Journalists participated in a ‘sit in’ demonstration to protest against the PMDA bill Photo Credit: RIUJ

Wan-Ifra, the International Publishers Association (IPA), and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) call on Pakistani authorities to retract plans to establish the ‘Pakistan Media Development Authority’ (PMDA) that risks placing strict state control over all media.

Under the pretence of ‘simplifying procedures and fighting disinformation,’ the proposed changes to current frameworks aim to centralize all regulations pertaining to any media under a single authority. 

The PMDA would replace existing media regulatory bodies and oversee ‘films, electronic, print, and digital media’ across every domain, from registrations to wages, licensing to the allocation of government advertising, and civil and criminal complaints procedures.

Serious concerns have also been raised regarding the proposed governance of the new PMDA, notably a perceived lack of independence from the government. Half of the PMDA board’s eight members, including the chairman, will be appointed by the state.

Wan-Ifra, IPA and IFJ to shortlist members of Media Tribunals

Wan-Ifra, IPA, and IFJ are particularly alarmed by a provision that allows the new authority the power to shortlist members of Media Tribunals, vested with the power to hand down punishments of up to three years in jail and fines of up to 25 million Pakistani rupees (approximately US$150,000). Decisions made by the Media Tribunals can only be appealed before the Supreme Court.

In addition, the three organizations express strong reservations about the secrecy behind the drafting of the new PDMA law, with the bill having only recently been shared by the government and receiving no input from media or civil society stakeholders.

While welcoming the establishment in mid-September of a committee that will allow media organizations to consult with the Federal Information Minister on the proposals for the PDMA, a first meeting has yet to be held or even called.

“We urge the Pakistan government to actively collaborate with representatives of the media on any such proposed law, particularly given its wide-ranging authority and the high potential for the infringement of press freedom,” said Wan-Ifra chief executive officer, Vincent Peyrègne.

“Declarations from the government that explain the new law simply as a strategy to curb disinformation only confirm suspicions that it is instead a set of broad regulations designed to undermine critical speech and unduly control the media.”

José Borghino, secretary-general of the International Publishers Association, said, “The International Publishers Association stands alongside news publishers and journalists in calling for the Pakistani authorities to withdraw their plans for the Pakistan Media Development Authority. The potential impact on freedom of expression and the freedom to publish is clear, and it is alarming to see the current health crisis being used as cover to stifle independent media.”

IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger said, “The PMDA threatens to curtail media freedom in Pakistan further. The IFJ strongly urges Pakistan’s government to listen to the industry and take a step back, consult and engage with the media on much-needed reforms that will support and enable a sustainable, strong and independent media into the future.”

 

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

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Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

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Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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