PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – October 2021
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. 10 – October 2021 Edition
Produced by Freedom Network – www.fnpk.org
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
Senate body considers bill to exclude parliament from Right to Information law
Date: October 4, 2021 – Source: Dawn
The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting is scheduled to consider a bill aimed at excluding both houses of parliament from the ambit of Right to Access to Information (RTI) Act and subsequently to keep its information confidential.
Disputes within PEMRA turn into altercation within information ministry
Date: October 4, 2021 – Source: Dawn
The infighting among top officials of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) turned into a bone of contention between the media watchdog and the ministry of information and broadcasting.
Federal minister opposes bill to exempt parliament’s proceedings from Right to Information law
Date: October 5, 2021 – Source: Dawn
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry disapproved of an amendment bill introduced by the ruling party’s lawmakers in Senate that seeks to exclude both the houses of the parliament from the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Islamabad High Court questions government over wanting to withhold information
Date: October 14, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Express Tribune
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) advised the federal government to reconsider its decision to keep information about gifts received from foreign heads of states, governments and other dignitaries confidential.
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
Journalist convention vows to prevent PMDA imposition
Date: October 1, 2021 – Source: The News
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) said that the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) was a black law and its imposition would be opposed at every forum.
Date: October 3, 2021 – Source: The News
The problem of competing with the speed of social media does not affect written newspapers. People turn, and in the future will increasingly do so, to print media to check the authenticity of stories appearing on social media.
President seeks media’s role in spreading awareness about breast cancer
Date: October 4, 2021 – Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)
President Dr Arif Alvi sent letters to media houses and journalists urging them to join hands with the federal government and civil society in raising awareness about breast cancer in Pakistan.
PML-N to sue Pakistan Television for airing fake news about Junaid Safdar
Date: October 4, 2021 – Source: Dawn
The Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) announced that the party will sue the state-run Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) for wrongly mentioning the name of Junaid Safdar, the son of Maryam Nawaz, in its report on the Pandora Papers.
PFUJ rejects proposed umbrella media authority
Date: October 5, 2021 – Source: The News
A convention arranged by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Khyber Union of Journalists (KUJ) rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and termed it an effort to suppress the voice of independent media and deprive people of their right to know.
Minister urges media to foil propaganda campaign against CPEC
Date: October 6, 2021 – Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar urged media houses and journalists to foil the international and unjustified propaganda campaign against China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
World press, publishers condemn proposed media regulatory authority
Date: October 7, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
The World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the International Publishers Association (IPA), and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called on Pakistani authorities to retract plans to establish the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).
PFUJ warns of long march in November over proposed media authority bill
Date: October 12, 2021 – Source: Asian News International (ANI)
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) warned the federal government of a long march by journalists and media workers in November if the proposed media authority bill is not withdrawn.
Minister terms fake news ‘greatest’ challenge for Pakistani media
Date: October 16, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune
Federal Minister for Information Technology and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that the ‘greatest’ challenge faced by media in Pakistan was the unchecked dissemination of false propaganda through fake news.
Former finance minister wins defamation case against ARY Group in the United Kingdom
Date: October 19, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: The Friday Times, Source 3: The Pakistan Daily
ARY United Kingdom issued an apology to former finance minister Ishaq Dar for airing defamatory allegations of corruption and abuse of power, admitting in a United Kingdom high court that those allegations were fabricated and unverified.
PFUJ, HRCP oppose proposed PMDA ordinance
Date: October 18, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News
Participants from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) at a seminar organized by the Hyderabad Union of Journalists (HUJ) likened the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) to a ‘martial law’ on media.
Pakistan, Turkey to co-produce television series on Salahuddin Ayubi
Date: October 22, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Daily Times
Pakistan and Turkey announced a joint production venture to produce a television series on the life of warrior Salahuddin Ayubi as Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed the need to familiarize the young generation with Muslim history.
Court issues arrest warrants for SAPM in defamation suit filed by Turkish firm
Date: October 28, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The Friday Times
A sessions court in Lahore issued a bailable arrest warrants of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication (SAPM) Shahbaz Gill in a criminal complaint of defamation against him filed by a Turkish company.
Former cricketer quits Pakistan Television show during live broadcast
Date: October 28, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: Perth Now
Former Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar resigned in protest from his role as a sports expert on Pakistan Television’s (PTV) cricket show allegedly for being ‘insulted’ by the show’s host and asked to leave.
Pakistani TV channel’s UK broadcaster apologizes to PML-N leader for airing defamatory remarks
Date: October 29, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The Friday Times
Private television channel New Vision TV, a broadcaster of ARY UK, issued an apology to London-based Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nasir Butt for airing a program in which he was called a ‘criminal, a multiple murderer and member of a drug cartel’.
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
Private television channels to pay for live parliament broadcast
Date: October 5, 2021 – Source 1: Express Tribune, Source 2: Daily Times, Source 3: Business Recorder
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry told an upper house panel that a proposal had been finalized to charge private television channels for the live telecast of parliament proceedings.
Pakistani media executives among owners of offshore firms named in Pandora papers
Date: October 5, 2021 – Source: Dawn
An investigation into hidden financial holdings of high-profile individuals by the International Consortium of Journalists (ICJ) named media owners in Pakistan among others as owners of offshore firms for financial purposes.
Local publishing firms accuse government of facilitating foreign publishers
Date: October 14, 2021 – Source: Dawn
Local publishers under the Text Books Publishers Association (TBPA) staged a protest demonstration saying that the government should not facilitate foreign publishers over domestic ones for publishing local textbooks under the Single National Curriculum (SNC) policy.
Sindh Governor hands over electric motorbikes to journalists
Date: October 22, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail handed over Pakistan’s first-ever locally manufactured electric motorbikes to 13 journalists whose names were selected through balloting.
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
Journalists, media bodies condemn online hate speech against female anchorperson
Date: October 1, 2021 – Source 1: Freedom Network (FN), Source 2: Aaj News
Media rights bodies and journalists condemned unwarranted online hate speech against female journalist and television anchorperson Gharida Farooqi for her alleged involvement in a viral video featuring former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair.
PID proposes action against newspapers not publishing edition regularly
Date: October 1, 2021 – Source: The News
The Press Information Department (PID) decided to remove those newspapers from the list of central media list which are not publishing their editions regularly. Professional journalist organizations had been continuously demanding actions against such newspapers.
Date: October 4, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune
Journalists risk not only their physical well-being but also their mental health in the discharge of their professional duties. Journalists cannot always be expected to perform without any safety net. It is, therefore, important to create a safe environment for journalists and media persons to operate in.
Body of female social activist recovered from Khairpur
Date: October 7, 2021 – Source: The News
The body of female social activist Roshan Rajper was recovered from her home in Khairpur, while the residents connected the murder with her 15 days earlier press conference, where she blamed some influential people to occupy her land.
Journalist killed in targeted bomb explosion in Hub
Date: October 11, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Dawn, Source 3: Reporters without Borders (RSF)
Reporter Shahid Zehri was killed when a targeted bomb explosion took place in Hub. A separatist regional group took responsibility for targeting the journalists for allegedly ‘spying’.
Global condemnation over targeted killing of news reporter in Balochistan
Date: October 11, 2021 – Source 1: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Source 2: Al Jazeera
International media rights bodies condemned the killing of television reporter Shahid Zehri in a targeted bomb blast claimed by a regional armed group and demanded immediate action by state authorities against the culprits.
Slain journalist Shahid Zehri survived two attacks in the past
Date: October 12, 2021 – Source: The News
Slain journalist and television reporter Shahid Zehri survived two deadly attacks in the past before the most recent targeted bomb attack in Hub in which he lost his life.
Media rights body condemns police high-handedness on press club premises
Date: October 12, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)
Freedom Network (FN) condemned a senior police officer’s violation of the sanctity of the Peshawar Press Club (PPC) and threatening behavior towards journalists and members of the transgender community to stop them from voicing their concerns regarding communal safety and indifference.
Police officials threaten transgender persons on Peshawar Press Club premises
Date: October 13, 2021 – Source: The News
The District Superintendent of Police (DSP) and other officials entered the Peshawar Press Club premises and threatened transgender persons and journalists during a press conference against misuse of police authority and crimes against the transgender community.
PFUJ condemns harassment of senior journalist
Date: October 21, 2021 – Source: The News
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) took serious notice of online attacks, trolling and harassment of senior female journalist Asma Sherazi at the hands of members of the federal cabinet and workers from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
Journalist faces wrath of ministers for ‘targeting’ first lady
Date: October 22, 2021 – Source: Dawn
Several members of the federal cabinet criticized journalist Asma Sherazi on an article written by her for BBC Urdu service criticizing the current economic condition in Pakistan and reports relating to supernatural remedies around Prime Minister Imran Khan’s private residence.
SAPM justifies online harassment against journalist
Date: October 22, 2021 – Source: The News
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Shabaz Gill justified online attacks, trolling and harassment of senior journalist Asma Sherazi as ‘reaction’ by members and workers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) after she allegedly targeted the first lady in her recent article.
Pakistani journalists under threat
Date: October 22, 2021 – Source: The News
In a country that was ranked last year as the second most dangerous place in which to be a journalist, the messenger continues to remain under attack. From threats of violence to actual violence to online bullying, Pakistani journalists continue to operate under threats.
Islamabad police torture journalists covering TLP protest
Date: October 23, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
Officers of the Islamabad police attacked a team of journalists working for 24 News while they were covering the protest by workers of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in the federal capital.
Political leaders, journalist federations condemn harassment of journalist
Date: October 24, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Representatives from political parties and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the online harassment and trolling against journalist Asma Sherazi by members and supporters of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
PEMRA directs television channels not to air ‘objectionable’ content
Date: October 24, 2021 – Source: Dawn
The Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued a reminder to all licensed television channels, including those with landing rights in the country, not to indulge in ‘airing objectionable dramas and content based on indecent dressing, caressing, bed scenes and gestures’.
Pakistani government orchestrates hate campaign against woman journalist
Date: October 26, 2021 – Source: Reporters without Borders (RSF)
Reporters without Borders (RSF) expressed concern by the violent smear and hate campaign that members of Pakistan’s ruling party waged on social media at the government’s instigation against views expressed by a journalist Asma Sherazi in her article published for BBC’s Urdu service.
PFUJ demands judicial probe for phone tapping of journalists
Date: October 26, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) demanded a judicial commission to probe tapping, tracking and monitoring of journalists’ telephone calls as admitted by the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Shahbaz Gill during a press conference.
Lahore High Court seeks reply from PEMRA on plea against drama content advisory
Date: October 27, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Pakistan Today, Source 3: Daily Times
The Lahore High Court (LHC) sought a reply from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on a petition challenging a notification cautioning television channels operating in Pakistan against airing ‘indecent’ scenes in dramas.
PEMRA reiterates ban on television, radio coverage of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan
Date: October 28, 2021 – Source: Dawn
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) reiterated its earlier ban on media coverage of the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as the group persisted with its latest long march to Islamabad.
PFUJ condemns suspension of private television channel’s transmission
Date: October 30, 2021 – Source: The News
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemned the suspension of a private television channel’s transmission by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) without any notice or warming by secretly directing cable operators.
Trial date set in the UK for man charged with conspiring to murder Pakistani blogger
Date: October 30, 2021 – Source: Dawn
A British Pakistani man who was charged earlier this year with the conspiracy to murder exiled Pakistani blogger Waqqas Ahmad Goraya entered a not guilty plea in the United Kingdom. A trial date was, therefore, issued by the court for January 2022.
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.