A monthly report on trends relating to state of journalism and media rights, policies and practices


Media related laws, policies and regulations

The state of media professionalisms

The state of media economy

Threats and attacks against journalists and information practitioners

Vol. 2, No. 1 January 2021 Edition

Produced by Freedom Network –

SECTION 1: Media related laws, policies, regulations, mechanisms

  • Freedom of expression (FOE)
  • Right to information (RTI), access to information (ATI)
  • Federal and provincial governments (relevant ministries and departments)
  • Media related regulators (PPC, PEMRA, PTA)
  • Regulatory issues related to print, electronic and digital media

PTV board suspends managing director

Date: January 2, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The board of Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) suspended its managing director Aamer Manzoor for ten days allegedly for exercising powers beyond prescribed limits.

Government vows swift action over anti-army rhetoric

Date: January 3, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced that the government is going to prosecute the people using derogatory language against Pakistan’s armed forces within 72 hours.

Islamabad High Court issues notices in PTV chairman appointment case

Date: January 9, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued notices on another petition to club the case with other similar petitions against the appointment of Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) chairman Naeem Bukhari.

Federal cabinet removes Naeem Bukhari as PTV chairman

Date: January 16, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Daily Pakistan

Naeem Bukhari, chairman of the state-run Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC), was removed by the federal cabinet from his position along with two other directors following the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order barring him from continuing his duties.

SECTION 2: The state of media professionalisms

  • Media independence issues
  • Public interest journalism practices and challenges
  • Ethical journalism issues
  • The state of thematic journalism
  • Community-focused media
  • Misinformation / disinformation / fake news

Punjab police come up with departmental media wing

Date: January 5, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Punjab police department appointed Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Sohail Akhtar Sukhera as official spokesperson for the department under a newly-created information management and data sharing system.

Geo Television maintained its top spot in 2020

Date: January 5, 2021 – Source: The News

According to reports and television rating charts, Geo Television maintained its spot as Pakistan’s most-viewed entertainment channel in 2020.

Advertising media perpetuating harmful myths in Pakistan

Date: January 9, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Inequality could be explained in many ways but it is perpetuated by decisions and choices made by centers of power. There is a rise in gendered inequality being perpetuated by televised advertisements in Pakistan.

Bara Press Club cabinet takes oath

Date: January 11, 2021 – Source: The News

Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shafiq Afridi administered oath to new office-bearers of the Bara Press Club (BPC).

Senate urges Pakistan Television to be responsible for nation-building

Date: January 16, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting asked the Pakistan Television (PTV) Corporation management to start revolutionary programs to save national art, culture and talent.

The violent side of Pakistani television

Date: January 24, 2021 – Source: The News

It is imperative to discuss how television dramas in Pakistan are normalizing common forms of physical violence. Content creators and performing artists need to re-think drama content in the country to resurrect stories that reform, revolutionize and refine society for the better.

Punjab government to launch crackdown against hate literature

Date: January 24, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and two federal ministers decided to launch a crackdown on those involved in publishing and distributing hate literature against religious communities.

Actress starts Twitter trend over people’s content preference on PTV

Date: January 29, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Actress Sanam Saeed started a trend on Twitter and asked her fans and followers as to what they would like to see broadcasted on the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV).

Information minister assures resolution of PBA problems

Date: January 30, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz assured a delegation representing the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) that the government firmly believed in the public’s right to freedom of expression and considered it as their basic constitutional and democratic right.

SECTION 3: The state of media economy

  • Economic landscape of media industry
  • Impact of Covid-19 on media resilience and sustainability
  • Government and private advertising for media industry
  • Advertising sector and its interface with media industry
  • Business viability and sustainability of media
  • Wages, salaries and arrears of journalists and media practitioners

Rallies for media workers’ economic rights held across country

Date: January 6, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Rallies across Pakistan were held on the call of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) for the protection of economic rights of journalists and media workers and freedom of the press.

Government announces financial package for newspaper sellers

Date: January 8, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz announced an assistance package for newspaper sellers. Each newspaper hawker will be offered free medical facility of up to Rs600,000 per year and an interest-free loan of Rs60,000.

PTV removed from list of state entities proposed for privatization

Date: January 21, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Cabinet Committee on State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) decided to remove Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) from the list of state entities proposed for privatization.

DGPR employees continue protest for pay raise

Date: January 29, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Employees of the Directorate General Public Relations (DGPR) continued their protest for the acceptance of their demands, particularly that of media professional allowance.

SECTION 4: Threats and attacks against media and information practitioners, including online

  • Murders and killings
  • Kidnappings and abductions
  • Arrests and detentions
  • Threats – verbal and written
  • Harassment and intimidation – offline and online
  • Surveillance, hacking and data breaches
  • Legal cases for journalism-related work or free speech
  • Impunity of crimes against journalists
  • Censorship

Oppression of media around the world

Date: January 2, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Nearly 50 journalists around the world were killed in 2020. Multiple reports by international media and rights organizations have pointed towards the growing restrictions for media practitioners which has forced them to switch over to the digital realm.

Journalism under siege in Pakistan

Date: January 3, 2021 – Source: The News

Recent reports suggest that Pakistan continues to be among the world’s most dangerous countries for practicing journalism. There continues to be an environment of restrictions on freedom of speech and free thinking.

PTA directs blocking of blasphemous film in Pakistan

Date: January 4, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: The Nation

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) approached social media platforms for removal of trailers about blasphemous movie titled ‘Lady of Heaven’.

Government to introduce digital pension system in Pakistan

Date: January 9, 2021 – Source: Dawn

In a move to streamline the pension payment system, the government decided to launch a new direct credit system (DCS) to ensure all requirements and documentations for the process are addressed digitally to facilitate pensioners.

Pakistan Peoples Party stands for freedom of press, protection of journalists

Date: January 10, 2021 – Source: The News

Parliamentary Leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the Senate Senator Sherry Rehman said that her party stands for the freedom of press and the protection of journalists in Pakistan.

Journalists pay heavy price for press freedom in Pakistan

Date: January 10, 2021 – Source: Dawn

It appears that journalists and media workers are paying a heavy price for their commitment to freedom of the press in Pakistan. With hopes for freedom to write fading, the fourth pillar of democracy appears to be in a bad shape in the country.

Supreme Court told that counsel, witnesses and judges in Daniel Pearl case received threats

Date: January 13, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) was told that the murder trial of Daniel Pearl was transferred from the Karachi-bench of Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) to its Hyderabad-bench after the counsel, witnesses and even the judges hearing the case received threats.

Sindh’s top lawyer asked to prove whether SC order in Pearl case holds the field

Date: January 14, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Sindh High Court (SHC) asked the advocate general of Sindh to advance arguments as to whether the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s (SCP) order still holds the field regarding detention of four men acquitted in abduction and murder case of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

PFUJ demands end to threats against journalists in Pakistan

Date: January 16, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Concluding a national conference of journalists in Lahore, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) gave the government a three-month ultimatum to sort out issues faced by journalists across the country. These issues include threats, legal cases, and retrenchments in the media industry.

Freedom Network condemns comments by PM’s Focal Person on Digital Media

Date: January 17, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

Freedom Network (FN) condemned comments made by the Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Digital Media Khalid Arsalan terming hate campaigns against journalists as unequal to ‘online harassment’.

New investigative report studies impacts of online violence on women journalists in Pakistan

Date: January 20, 2021 – Source: Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD)

According to a new report published by Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD), women journalists in Pakistan most frequently identified online violence, including online harassment, trolling, and coordinated abusive campaigns, as the main factor behind limiting their personal expression.

Islamabad High Court petition against PEMRA order withdrawn

Date: January 21, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) along with journalists and media analysts withdrew their petition before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against a directive issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) banning broadcast of speeches by proclaimed offenders.

Supreme Court informed that Pearl murder case does not fall in terrorism category

Date: January 22, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

A lawyer for the accused in the Daniel Pearl murder case told the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) that the case did not fall in the category of terrorism as per the apex court’s earlier orders.

Opposition parties in Senate rejects bill proposing powers for Pemra

Date: January 26, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The opposition parties in the Senate rejected a bill proposing powers for the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to look into complaints of violation of contractual obligations by private television channels.

Supreme Court told prime accused conceded minor role in Pearl murder case

Date: January 28, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The counsel for parents of Daniel Pearl referred to an earlier letter in which principal accused, Ahmed Omar Sheikh, had conceded his minor role in the US journalist’s murder.

Supreme Court orders release of prime accused in Daniel Pearl murder case

Date: January 29, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: The Guardian

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) acquitted Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the main accused in the Daniel Pearl murder case, and directed authorities to release him if not required in another case.

US seeks custody of prime accused as Sindh wants Pearl case reviewed

Date: January 30, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Sindh government filed a set of petitions seeking review and suspension of the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s (SCP) order of releasing the prime accused in the Daniel Pearl murder case. Elsewhere, the US Justice Department sent a formal request expressing its desire to take custody of the prime accused.

Centre to formally join Daniel Pearl murder case review

Date: January 31, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) issued a statement stating that the federal government has decided to formally join the review petition initiated by the Sindh government against the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s (SCP) decision to acquit the prime accused in the Daniel Pearl murder case.


OBJECTIVES: This series of monthly report aims to:

  • Monitor the state of policies, regulations and mechanisms governing the media sector in Pakistan; the state of freedom of expression and right to information environment in the country and how these interfaces with media freedoms allowed or restricted via media regulations governed by the print, electronic and internet regulators.
  • Track the state of media professionalisms in the country including ethical and public interest journalism practices and challenges, and the challenges of misinformation, disinformation and fake news phenomena.
  • Follow the changing economic dynamics of the media industry and how they impact the business viability and sustainability of media and exploitation of media staff in lieu of their wages and arrears.
  • Scrutinize threats and attacks against media and information practitioners, the state of impunity of crimes against journalists and efforts to provide justice for those aggrieved and distressed.

INFORMATION SOURCES: This report monitors, among others, the following sources of information:

  • Government: Federal and provincial cabinets
  • Ministries: Related ministries, including Information and Broadcasting, Information Technology (IT) and Telecom, Human Rights, Science and Technology, Commerce and Industry, etc.
  • Legislatures: Senate, National Assembly, provincial assemblies, relevant standing committees
  • Regulators: Pakistan telecommunications Authority (PTA), Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Press Council of Pakistan (PPC), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), etc.
  • Global organizations: UN/Unesco, International Media Support (IMS), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), etc.
  • National organizations: Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), BoloBhi, Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD), Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), etc.
  • Media: Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, The Nation, Pakistan Today, The Friday Times, etc.
  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Local networks: Journalists Safety Hubs Network, Alliance on Diversity & Pluralism in Media, etc.
  • Any other open public information sources.




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