Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Monday said that the democratic government is a staunch supporter of media freedom and has scrapped the draconian laws introduced in the past to curb the media.
He expressed these views during a presentation given to him by the ministry of information and broadcasting at the PM House.
The briefing was attended by Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira, the secretary information and heads of attached departments of the ministry.
The prime minister described media freedom and democracy as inseparable and said the government would ensure press freedom and free debate which is critical for the evolution of a pluralistic society.
He directed the state-owned media to give enhanced coverage to all political parties including the opposition, both in news and current affairs programmes.
The PM appreciated the Pakistan Television for reaching out to maximum number of people in the country as the only terrestrial channel, which was disseminating news to its viewers with responsibility.
The success of PTV Sports Channel merited special appreciation during the presentation.
The premier issued directive for overcoming the shortage of DSNG (Digital Satellite News Gathering) vehicles on an emergency basis.
He said in media’s competitive world, it is important to equip the state television channel with latest technology to ensure live coverage of important events.
He hoped that it would enable the official television to focus on the issues of people living in rural areas.
The prime minister directed the ministry of information and broadcasting to take immediate steps to make its media university functional to impart advanced training to working journalists.
He asked the media heads of information ministry to focus on projecting achievements of the government in various fields.
The prime minister mentioned several steps by the government including the National Finance Commission Award, constitutional amendments, renaming of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, introduction of reforms in FATA, and making Pakistan a wheat exporting country, which he said would have far-reaching effects on the federation and national economy.
The prime minister directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to exercise its authority under law against the TV channels engaged in airing indecent and unauthorised material.
Earlier Qamar Zaman Kaira in his presentation said there was a marked improvement in the current affairs and news programmes of PTV. However, he said there was still an ample margin for improvement.
He said his ministry is pro-actively engaged to set the trend of news dissemination with responsibility.
The minister said the Press Council of Pakistan under its chairman Shafqat Abbasi is doing a good job because people now have access to a forum to file their complaints against media organisations for redressing their grievances.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.