ISLAMABAD: Senior journalists Hamid Mir and Absar Alam on Thursday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking the formation of an accountability commission for the media which will also form a code of conduct, Express News reported.
The petition prays to the Supreme Court to form a commission that will be responsible for inquiring about the source of income of TV channel owners, advertising agencies and anchorpersons.
Speaking to Express News on the premises of the Supreme Court, Geo TV’s senior journalist Hamid Mir said, “Our petition seeks that the source of income of the government, Bahria Town administration, advertising agencies, TV channel owners and all prominent anchorpersons should be investigated.”
Mir said that it should be found out where the government’s secret funds are spent and why. “Also, [Business tycoon] Malik Riaz should be questioned that, in the past, how many anchors he has provided financial benefits to. Advertising agencies and TV channels should be questioned as to where they are getting all the money from?”
He said that he will try that the court admits their plea.
The senior journalist said, “Accusations have surfaced that journalists are taking kickback money to promote government campaigns.” He said that that the most prominent was that the elections were nearing and amid this, readjustments and positioning was being done. “A few days back, the judiciary was attacked by an agenda, in which personalities from the establishment and the government were involved. There will be another attack soon, in which TV channels and the black sheep of the media will be used.”
Responding to a question on his name being taken among journalists accused of taking money, Mir said that once the plea is accepted, everything will become clear to people and they will be silenced.
“Not only working journalists, but the owners should be questioned, too. Anchorpersons are a soft target for people; they can be easily accused. Therefore, a commission should be formed which can make a code of conduct.”
He said that in the past, no one has asked the press councils functioning in Pakistan to form a code of conduct. “Why haven’t they formed one?” questioned Mir. “Why hasn’t a self-regulation body come into place?”
The journalist said that the problem with the people is that they consider anchorpersons as journalists. “Not every anchor is a journalist. Some of them might be doctors, engineers or coming from different fields. He said that it will “trouble a lot of people” who will run a campaign against them.
When asked what the commission will do and how it will benefit working journalists, Mir said, “Whoever raises a finger towards another journalist, he will be held accountable. It would not be like someone, at their ease, can malign another person’s name. If anyone says something about me, I will be able to take that person before that commission.”
“We are praying to the court that the black sheep who have barged into the media should be held accountable,” he said while responding to a question on whether the Supreme Court should admit this plea or not.
Journalists, as citizens of Pakistan, have right to approach courts
AAJ TV’s senior journalist Absar Alam, while speaking to Express News said that they are not “dragging the court” in the matters of the media, but have approached them because it is their fundamental right as citizens of Pakistan, according to Articles 4, 5 and 19.
Alam said, “It is not just about forming a code of conduct, the credibility of the media is at stake.”
He said that when the media was in its early stages in Pakistan, journalists made a lot of sacrifices for it, but lately, a lot of journalists were being discredited for misusing their power. “TV channel owners are not doing anything, where do we go except for knocking the doors of the court?”
The journalist said that the media has been maligned to an extent that during his interaction with his friends and family, people ask him “if he had taken any money or plots or which political party he is inclined to.”
A copy of the petition can be seen here.
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