CHAUDHRY AHSAN PREMEE
ASSOCIATED PRESS SERVICE
ISLAMABAD:Chairperson National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage has emphasized upon the need for greater collaboration among the media houses and the Government for mutually working out an effective strategy so as to counter terrorist narrative, on one hand, and to promote media content which neutralizes the traumatic effects of terrorist activities, one the other.
Chairing 18th meeting of the NA Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and NH, that was convened to work out media strategy in the context of present situation, Ms. Marvi Memon said that the country was passing through the most critical phase of its history and situation demands manifestation of greater maturity and sense of responsibility by all stakeholders including media houses, media persons and all others.
Members of the Standing Committee of National Assembly on Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage unanimously agreed that further meetings on this all important agenda would be continued. Those who attended the meeting included among others Mr. Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami, who represented CPNE and APNS, Secretary Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & NH Mr. Mohammad Azam, Principal Information Officer Rao Tehsin Ali, Director General Internal Publicity Mr. Nasir Jamal, Chairman PEMRA Mr. Pervez Rathore and other senior officials besides the members of Standing Committee. Dr. Rizwan Taj, Associate Professor and Head of Department of Psychiatry Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences was also specially invited to brief the meeting about the psychological impacts of media contents about terrorism especially on young minds.
The meeting that lasted for over two hours discussed various issues related to the emergent situation and the new requirements especially in the aftermath of terrorist’s attack on innocent children in Peshawar and the commitment of the nation to pursue its struggle against terrorism till its logical conclusion.
The meeting agreed that in view of the war like situation in the country there was a need to undertake extra-ordinary steps including legislative measures, if needed, to ensure that the media represents the national aspirations and complements the Government efforts for the eradication of this menace from our soil. It was decided that the media will not lend itself to the projection of crime terrorism as heroic and the criminals, terrorists, as heroes. The meeting recommended that the coverage of terrorists’ statements and activities should be refrained to the maximum possible extent.
The meeting was of the view that there should be no ambiguity vis-à-vis definition of the terrorists/banned organization. There was unanimity of views among the participants of the meeting that those individuals who leave one banned organization and create a new organization, their new organization should be immediately considered as of the same category and those terrorists themselves should be considered as banned. It recommended that a directory of banned organizations and individuals should be published in public domain.
On the role and conduct of media persons especially the anchors and reporters of electronic media, the meeting called for manifestation of greater sense of responsibility and recommended that appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that no instances of aberration from the set of agreed principles occurs in any media outlet with regards to the terrorism specific activities.
The meeting also proposed establishment of a consultative body between the government and media organization for facilitation of amended war-time rules. Editors and CEOs of TV organizations would determine responsibility in collaboration with the relevant Government departments.
The meeting emphasized upon the need for ensuring implementation of relevant laws, in their true letter and spirit that deal with media content about terrorism and terrorist activities. It called upon the government to proactively engage all stakeholders particularly PBA/ CPNE/ APNS for this cause of national interest. The meeting also suggested that creation of special tribunals for telecom and electronic media may be considered which could play their role towards dispute resolution and ensuring implementation of laws.
There was unanimity of views that there was a need for changing mindset so as cope with the present situation. It was decided that the Committee would recommend to the Government for capacity enhancement of PEMRA and to enable the organization manage the task of real time media monitoring. The members also called upon the media house to constitute and notify editorial boards and pass on that information to PEMRA being the regulatory authority.
The meeting also put forth various other recommendations that concern coverage of terrorism related incidents. Besides others, the meeting recommended that Media owners should get insurance schemes for the lives and equipment of media teams tasked for covering any activity beyond their routine assignment.
Professor Rizwan Taj gave a detailed presentation on the impacts of TV coverage of terrorism and how proper management and regulation of media content can help the nation to tread onto the path of peace, prosperity and development.
The Chairperson in her concluding remarks observed that more meetings would follow and the next meeting would specially focus on chalking out a strategy for the social media.