PESHAWAR: The members of Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP) have completely rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMDA) terming it unconstitutional and an attempt to muzzle the online freedoms in the country. The Alliance believes that the proposed authority is government’s latest effort to impose state control on digital media after totally subduing the legacy media.
The members of the alliance in a joint statement also expressed concern over government’s “Anti-State Trends Deep Analysis Report (2019 to 2021)” which painted several journalists, politicians and academics anti-state and accused them of treason for voicing their opinion on government’s policies.
“The report may have raised some valid points but the fact that it was prepared by the a government department, running on taxpayers’ money, and several journalists were so callously branded ‘anti-state’ for their tweets critical of state policies exposes the authoritarian tendencies of this government. It would be suicidal to accept the proposed PMDA when the government has clearly demonstrated that it considers dissent and opposition as treason. It would be tantamount to signing our own death warrant,” DigiMAP’s statement read.
Earlier, representatives of media organisations in a joint statement rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority and termed the concept an unconstitutional and draconian law against the freedom of press and expression and a step toward imposing the state control to regulate all segments of media under an over-centralised body.
All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) representatives vehemently objected to the proposed PMDA as it appears to be aimed at subjugating the freedom of press and expression.
Major stakeholders believe that the PMDA is an attempt to tighten the federal government control over the media from one platform ignoring the fact that print, electronic and social media are separate entities with their own defined features. The move to bring under state control smacks of an authoritarian streak that should have no place in democratically-elected dispensation. They have urged the joint meeting of the Senate and National Assembly on Information to reject the proposal completely.