Pakistan Draft Code Of Conduct For Media ready

ISLAMABAD: A draft code of conduct prepared by

the government of Pakistan for the electronic media contains a long

list of “do’s and don’ts” but there is no answer to the real question

as to who would regulate these private television channels.

The fundamental principles in regard to the content of electronic

media as laid down in the draft code of conduct, has already been

there in one form or the other in the Constitution, law or regulations

but it was the utter failure of Pemra to get them implemented.

It was more because of Pemra’s failure to regulate the electronic

media than want of new regulations that resulted into producing an

unfettered media, which crossed all limits of indecency, bias,

subjectivity, partiality and sensationalism.

Not only that the Pemra laws and rules are blatantly violated but

there is also no check on the illegal channels shown on cable network.

According to the draft code of conduct prepared by the government, no

content shall be aired which (a) is against the Islamic values,

ideology of Pakistan or founding fathers of the nation, including

Quaid-i-Azam and Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal; (b) contains a call to arms

against the Federation of Pakistan or anything against the integrity,

security and defence of Pakistan; (c) passes derogatory remarks about

any religion, sect, community or uses visuals or words contemptuous of

religious sects and ethnic groups or which promotes communal and

sectarian attitudes or disharmony; (d) contains anything indecent,

obscene or pornographic; (e) contains abusive comment that incites

hatred and contempt against any individual or group of persons, on the

basis of race, caste, nationality, ethnic or linguistic origin,

colour, religion, sect, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or

physical disability; (f) is in violation of copyrights or other

related property rights as protected under any law for the time being

in force; (g) is against basic cultural values, morality and good

manners; (h) is likely to incite, aid, abet, glamorise or justify

violence, commission of any crime, terror or leads to serious public

disorder; (i) is known to be false or there exists sufficient reasons

to believe that the same may be false beyond a reasonable doubt; (j)

contains aspersions against the judiciary or armed forces of Pakistan;

(k) amounts to intimidation, blackmail or false incrimination of any

person (l) is defamatory as defined in the prevalent laws; (m) depicts

behaviour such as smoking and drug abuse as glamorous or desirable;

and (n) shows alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or any other

The draft code of conduct also bars the media from airing statements

of proscribed organisations.

Regarding news and current affairs programmes, the draft code of

conduct says that news, current affairs or documentary programmes

shall present information in an objective, accurate, impartial and

balanced manner. (2) Any political or analytical programme, whether in

the form of a talk show or otherwise, shall be conducted in an

objective manner ensuring representation of the concerned parties and

the guests shall be treated with due respect. (3) Programmes on sub

judice matters may be aired in informative manner and shall be handled

objectively. (4) News shall be clearly distinguished from commentary,

opinion and analysis. (5) Gloomy, sensational or alarming details not

essential to factual reporting shall not be aired as a part of news

bulletin. (6) Footages of gory scenes including bloodshed and dead

bodies shall not be aired. (7) Content based on extracts of court

proceedings, police records and other sources shall be fair and

correct. (8) In talk shows or other similar programmes, the licensee

shall ensure that- (a) The topic of programme is clearly highlighted;

(b) information being provided is not false, distorted, inappropriate

or misleading and relevant facts are not suppressed for commercial,

institutional or other special interests; (c) the programme is

conducted in an objective and unbiased manner; (d) programme does not

debase or abuse a person or group of persons; and (e) does not intrude

into private life, grief or distress of individuals. (9) Any personal

interest of a reporter or presenter which may call into question due

impartiality of the programme shall be disclosed prior to airing of

the programme. (10) Licensee shall not conduct media trial of any

person in connection with an ongoing investigation and shall, while

airing content, present both sides of the story. (11) News or any

other programme shall not be aired in a manner that is likely to

jeopardise any ongoing inquiry, investigation or trial.

The draft code of conduct also set limits for advertisement, religious

tolerance, protection of women and children, etc. It also seeks the

setting up of in-house monitoring committee in each channel to ensure

compliance of the code.

The selection criteria of the members of in-house monitoring committee

to be appointed by the licensee as required under Section 20(f) of the

ordinance shall be provided to Pemra.

The members of in-house monitoring committee shall act independently

to ensure that nothing is aired in violation of this code and the

ordinance and shall be provided all necessary facilitation by the

licensee in this regard.

Coutesy: Internews

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