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Centre firmly believes in freedom of expression, says Fawad Chaudhry

Govt wants to create consensus of stakeholders on PMDA: Fawad. (Source: APP)

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has asserted that PTI-led federal government firmly believed in fundamental, democratic and constitutional rights of freedom of expression.

He made these remarks during a meeting with British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner, who called on him in Islamabad, according to a statement issued on Saturday.

“We want to take all stakeholders on board to create consensus on the draft of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA),” Fawad Chaudhry told the British Envoy.

The minister pointed out that the PMDA aimed to ensure a cohesive approach to media development and efficient management besides providing one-window operation to media practitioners and the consumers.

He further said the government also wanted to streamline and ease the process for issuance of the NOC of the film in order to give a boost to film industry. He clarified that no criminal section was being included in the media development authority law.

Protection, perseverance and promotion of the democratic values of freedom of expression and right to criticism are vital for any democratic civilized society,” the Information Minister highlighted.

He told that presently seven regulatory bodies were regulating media organizations. These bodies, he said included PEMRA, Press Council of Pakistan, Pakistan Telecom Authority, Central Board of Films Censors, Press Registrar Office, Audit Bureau of Circulation and Implementation Tribunal for Newspapers Employees.

The minister said that presently media regulatory authorities were scattered and currently digital media platforms were not under any regulatory framework.

He said in modern times television, radio and newspapers were part of the cellular mobile set and hence need a single regulatory authority. “The convergence of media bodies under PDMA is essential to develop electronic, print, digital, and emerging media platforms,” he added.

The minister said that under the existing regulatory system, redressing of public complaints takes a long time and applications for registration and grant of NOCs were not processed in time.

He said the proposed framework would address challenges and requirements for the convergent media environment as per global practices to make Pakistan a major global center for multimedia information and content services.

“We want to do away with outdated laws and bring a simple single law in line with requirements of modern age, focusing on facilitation for both the media platforms and citizens,“ Fawad added.

He highlighted that PMDA would have a Press Directorate, Digital Media and Film Directorate, Electronic Media Directorate, Media Complaints Council and Media Tribunal.

He said that advertising on social media was mounting and there was an urgent need to regulate the money that was flowing out of Pakistan in dollars. He underscored that PMDA was being established to bring all the rules and respective forums under one platform.