Secret fund: ‘Media commission report an eyewash’

Speakers say findings do not expose major beneficiaries.

Our Correspondent August 08, 2013
“The commission also failed to take into account the role and cross-ownership of private media,” says Fouzia Saeed. DESIGN: ROZINA BHUTTO


Senior journalists have termed the Media Commission report, which revealed the names of the alleged ‘beneficiaries’ of the government’s secret fund, an eyewash saying the findings have few takers.

They were speaking at a discussion at the South Asia Free Media Association (Safma) office on Wednesday.

The report, which was prepared by a two-member commission headed by Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid and Javed Jabbar after interviewing 166 employees from 81 media organisations, was submitted to the Supreme Court recently.

“Although the report discusses the ratings of television programmes and the role of media organisations, it fails to expose the bigwigs who benefitted from the secret money, which was the real concern,” said senior journalist Muhammad Ziauddin.

He said when he was called by the commission to record his statement, he talked at length about the plight of working journalists and their exploitation by media organisations. “But the report failed to mention in detail the miseries being faced by media persons.”

Journalist Fouzia Saeed said journalists’ issues should not have reached the courts, instead, journalists’ bodies themselves should have taken them up to resolve them.

“The commission also failed to take into account the role and cross-ownership of private media,” she said arguing that such an approach is discouraged across the globe. Ziauddin said that in the United Kingdom they have set up media zones, where if radio or television of one group is functioning, the other medium of the same group is not allowed to function in the same zone.

Former Radio Pakistan director general Murtaza Solangi took exception to the findings of the report that Pakistani media was more critical of the role of agencies and the military at large, as was being done in the same way by foreign media outlets.

“The findings of the commission’s report are sketchy about those who actually control and manage the flow of content in the media, which is disturbing,” he said. He suggested setting up a public broadcaster and community radio to be run by independent professionals to report impartially.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.


Asad Aslam | 10 years ago | Reply

Everyone is asking to disclose the secret funds - to whom it was received from whom. But no one question Why is it necessary to have secret funds. The Supreme Court of Pakistan and Media Commission should work to bring down the culture of secret funds!

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