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Govt believes in freedom of expression: Fawad Hussain

07 September, 2018

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Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Thursday said that the government would not would not amend or introduce any law without the consultation of media representatives.

He was speaking at a meeting with the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE).

“The government believes in the freedom of expression and it knows that regulation does not mean censorship,” said the information minister.

The minister said that the freedom achieved by media during the past few decades was a landmark achievement.

He said that consensus among all stakeholders was needed for good legislation and added that the government would take opposition parties on board before introducing any new legislation.

About the proposed introduction of a new media authority, Fawad said that a new unified media authority would replace the existing Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Press Council of Pakistan and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The unified authority, he said, would provide one-window facility to media outlets and the general public and would also help save national resources, as the new regulatory body would look after electronic, print and social media simultaneously.

The minister said that the government had decided to constitute the Information Commission under the Right to Information Act (RTI), enacted last year. “The first information commissioner would be appointed within one month to ensure access to the information,” added the minister.

The minister went on to say that the government was being criticised as if it had been in power since long. He said that the incumbent government had only decided its priorities and the first step it had taken was to remove censorship from the state media.

About official advertisements, he said that the government wanted to introduce a transparent mechanism for their distribution and the input from media organisation would be welcomed in this connection.

He said that the previous government had spent Rs 21 billion on advertisements; the money spent by Punjab government stood at a whopping Rs 55 billion.

The present government, he said, would issue advertisements as per the requirement, and keeping in mind the survival of the newspaper industry, without unnecessary wastage of resources.

Fawad said that exchange of journalists with different countries would be organised to highlight the soft image of Pakistan across the world.

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