pakistan
Thursday Nov 25 2021
By
Web Desk

Govt ads should not be used as tool to curb press freedom, say media bodies

By
Web Desk

Government advertising should not be used as a tool to curb press freedom, say PBA
Government advertising should not be used as a tool to curb press freedom, say PBA 
  • APNS says it has always strongly condemned and resisted all acts and policies which are intended to curb freedom of press. 
  • Government advertising should never be used to influence editorial content and control free speech, says PBA.
  • PFUJ says it opposes any move that is to stop the advertisement of the newspapers or media outlets in a bid to undermine press freedom.


ISLAMABAD: Expressing their concerns over the recent statements of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry relating to the government advertising, the media bodies said that the ads should never be used as a tool to curb the freedom of the press.

The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) expressed its profound concern on the statement of PML-N vice president in which she admitted to denying some media houses advertising and the subsequent statement of Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry wherein he has shared figures of advertisements released to the media during the tenure of the past government, The News reported. 

In a statement, the APNS said that the figures released are not only partial and selective but purposefully do not include the advertisement spend of the present government. It asks the government to release the figures of advertisement given to the media outlets in the last 20 years.

The APNS is of the firm opinion that government advertising should never be used as a tool to influence editorial content and curb press freedom. The APNS is of the considered opinion that through the above statement the government intends to create divisions within the ranks of the media.

The APNS has always strongly condemned and resisted all acts and policies of the past and present governments which were intended to curb freedom of press and expression by using government advertising to influence editorial content. The APNS believes that the present government should ensure that the taxpayer's money is used for the release of advertisements in the public interest on merit and not to punish or reward a publication. It expects the present government to encourage transparency and merit in the distribution of advertisements to the media.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has bemoaned the revelations that PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif ordered to stop the advertisements of those media outlets that were not liked by the N-government.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, President of the union Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi said that the union was strongly opposed to any move that is to stop the advertisement of the newspapers or media outlets in a bid to undermine press freedom. Such attempts are meant to stifle media outlets financially and should not be practised by political parties and governments.

The two leaders said that political parties and governments should learn from their mistakes and not coerce media into towing their lines. "It is only independent and free media that is beneficial for political parties and governments because by highlighting their mistakes it provides them an opportunity to rectify the same," they said.

Meanwhile, in response to the statement of Maryam Nawaz on denying some media houses advertising and the statement of information minister in which he has released a partial media spend to reporters recently, Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) issued a statement in Karachi on Wednesday, saying that the government advertising should never be used to influence editorial content and control free speech.

“The governments should not try and create divisions within media and use advertising as a tool to exercise control over media. We ask the government to make public all media spends of the last 20 years including the present government’s spend,” it said.

The PBA strongly condemns all forms of coercion by any government past or present who has used govt advertisement to influence editorial policy.

"The present govt also faces accusations of doing the same whereas as per its manifesto it should ensure that the taxpayer money for advertisement in the public interest is on merit and not due to politics,” PBA added.

It said that the present government has also centralised advertising decisions, taking this right away from individual govt organisations, depts and ministries to exercise control on media. 

The present government’s track record on media relations has also been under a lot of criticism by media watchdogs and journalists' bodies. When governments try to control freedom of expression then the democracy and people of Pakistan suffer the most.

Blocking ads to TV channels exposed PML-N hypocrisy, says Farrukh

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said the admission of Maryam Safdar about blocking advertisements of leading television channels during her party’s tenure has exposed the PML-N hypocrisy on media freedom.

Maryam has admitted that the audio clip for blocking ads to control media is hers. In what capacity, Maryam was using ads released under public money for protecting her theft and personal interests, the minister said in a tweet.

He said it is the arrogance of the Sharif family that they admit their wrongdoings with pride instead of having any regret. Farrukh Habib charged the PML-N with corrupting the system in the past to cover up its corrupt practices.

The PML-N cannot afford an independent judiciary. It cannot tolerate independent working of institutions as they are people who corrupted the whole system, he said while talking to the media.