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Chaos in Pakistan over new media rules

Pakistan’s media regulator PEMRA introduced a new media code on August 20th. They come into force later this week with instructions that all satellite, radio and cable TV operators must implement immediately.

But there are problems. BBC Monitoring (quoting the Dawn website) is reporting that the new code bars media from airing what PEMRA calls “controversial content” and to protect the ideology of Pakistan. These rules reflect Pakistan’s Supreme Court directives, but the report says the PEMRA regulators have “overlooked basic details in coming up with the code”.

The Code of Conduct rules themselves are evidently full of misapplications of established PEMRA rules (which have been in place since 2007).

Worse perhaps, it has now emerged that PEMRA itself had little input on drawing up the new Code which was drafted and now implemented by a committee constituted by the country’s Prime Minister, and with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting facilitating.

“While both the PBA chairman and secretary general were unavailable for comment, a senior broadcaster and former PBA office-bearer decried the code and described it as a ‘hasty effort’ and merely a rehashing of the 2002 code,” reports BBC Monitoring, adding, “The main problem still remains the same as it was in 2002; the implementation will be a problem as long as PEMRA is not a completely independent authority,” he said, adding, “Like the last time, this time too there are a number of grey areas that have been left undefined.”

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