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Media bodies reject 'draconian' Pakistan Media Development Authority law

ANI | Updated: Aug 12, 2021 22:49 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], August 12 (ANI): Pakistan's media organisations have rejected as "draconian" the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) bill, which proposes the creation of a centralised media regulatory authority.
Dawn citing a joint statement issued by the various media bodies of the county reported the organisations have critised the law and described the move as a step towards imposing state control over all segments of media through the creation of a single over-centralised body.
"The PMDA appeared to be aimed at subjugating freedom of expression and of the press. The law is an attempt to tighten the federal government's control over the media from one platform but ignores the fact that print, electronic and social media are separate entities with their own defined features," the statement cited by Dawn read.
It further said the move to bring under state control all types of media organisations through one body indicates an authoritarian streak, which should have no place in a democratically elected dispensation.
The representative organisations of the media industry urged members of the National Assembly and Senate Standing Committee on Information to reject the proposed body completely, said the joint statement.

The media organistaions who opposed the proposed law include: All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND).
As per the government's proposal, the Pakistan Media Development Authority will solely be responsible for the regulation of print, broadcast and digital media in the country.
Meanwhile, the freedom of the press in Pakistan is at risk. In June, three international rights groups voiced grave concern at the recent attacks on journalists in Pakistan and mounting pressure on scribes critical of the Imran Khan-led government.
The European Union also raised concerns over violence, intimidation, abduction, and killing of journalists in Pakistan and said it indicated a "clear, negative trend" in the freedom of media in recent years.
Last month, an Islamabad-based journalist Asad Ali Toor, known for criticism of the country's establishment, was attacked in Pakistan's capital. The attackers broke into his house and attacked him brutally.
Last year, the authorities had charged Toor with sedition for comments on social media "maligning state institutions". A court later dismissed the charges, reported Pajhwok Afghan News.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in a 'White Paper on Global Journalism' listed five countries, including Pakistan as the 'Most Dangerous Countries for Practice of Journalism in the World' with 138 journalists being killed in Pakistan since 1990. (ANI)