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Members belonging to the opposition parties on Monday rejected the proposed 'media tribunal' during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting. Contrary to expectations, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting did not witness fiery speeches and a heated debate as chairperson of the committee belonging to the PML-N did not arrive in the meeting.

MNA Javeria Zafar Aheer presided over the committee meeting as chairman of the committee. Mian Javed Latif of the PML-N was on leave. Marriyum Aurangzeb of PML-N said the committee members reject the proposed 'media tribunal' and added that it is responsibility of the NA committee to ensure protection of rights of journalists.

She also added that Maryam Nawaz is a citizen of the country but her public gatherings are not aired due to directives by Pemra. She also demanded a briefing over PTV reforms announced by former information minister Fawad Chaudhary; however, the officials agreed to give an in-camera briefing over PTV in the next meeting.

Dr Nafisa Shah of PPP expressed annoyance over non-issuance of production orders of committee members Asif Ali Zardari and Khawaja Saad Rafiq and said the speaker National Assembly should not interfere in the affairs of the NA committees.

Due to the absence of Javed Latif, the meeting was delayed by around 35 minutes and soon Engr Usman Khan Tarakai pointed that the draft bills were not received in time. "We need time to prepare for the meeting and it is only possible after thorough reading of the documents," Tarakai said.

The committee deferred discussion on "the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (Amendment) Bill), 2019" till next meeting after a brief discussion.

The committee discussed the issue of banning and 'censorship' at electronic media by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

The committee members expressed concern that Pemra was unable to maintain its effective control on private media channels due to absence of a solid policy.

Chairman Pemra Saleem Baig briefed the committee that actions are not taken unilaterally by the authority and all actions are taken on the basis of reports filed by the Council of Complaints (COC).

He said that out of around Rs 15 million fines imposed on various satellite channels for violations in past six months, only Rs 1 million has been received, as the channels have obtained stay orders from the courts and filed appeals against the decisions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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