Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday announced that the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) will be replaced by a new and unified regulatory authority which will have purview over electronic media, social media and print media.
The information minister said, “[The PTI government] has decided [to do away] with PEMRA and PCP and to form a single, unified authority to oversee print as well as electronic and cyber media.”
The new authority will be called the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA), according to Information Minister Chaudhry.
Moreover, the PEMRA will also comprise senior representatives and officials from the media industry, according to the minister.
Chaudhry also said that the move will aid the government to conserve resources.
It is pertinent to mention here that PEMRA was created through an ordinance in 2002 for regulating and issuing channel licenses for the establishment of the mass media culture, print and electronic media. The PCP was also established through a presidential ordinance in 2002.
Both of the institutions were established under Article 19 of the constitution to ensure freedom of expression.
Legal experts believe that any change in the status of these institutions will require the government to pass necessary legislation in the parliament.
Speaking about the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV), the minister claimed that the government has ended censorship of the state media and PTV will broadcast whatever happens in the parliament.
Moreover, he also said that funds will not be drawn from public treasury by government officials for personal advertisements.
Critiquing the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, he said, “The PML-N government had sustained itself through advertisements.”
Chaudhry also remarked, “For Maulana Fazl, the Parliament is ‘bogus’ and the votes are ‘fake’, but he wants to become president by obtaining votes from the same Parliament.”