Pandemonium over media regularity authority bill thumbnail

Pandemonium over media regularity authority bill

A debate on the proposed Media Development Authority (MDA) law turned into pandemonium in National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Thursday, with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry exchanging words with journalists.

Journalists across the country have already expressed reservations about the proposed authority which, they fear, will act as supreme regularity body over all types of media outlets.

After complaints were voiced by journalists, the chairperson of the committee also raised objections over the behaviour of the federal information minister.

 
 

 

Subsequently, a sub-committee was formed under Maryam Aurangzeb to discuss the proposed law, Shehzad Ali reports from Islamabad.

Members
of the sub-committee include Kanwal Shozab and Nafeesa Shah.

Fawad Chaudhry admitted that the government had no control over social media platforms. He said regulating “other media” was vital for the government.

What sparked the chaos

When
he pointed out fragmentation of organizations representing journalists, saying
he did not consider some as bonafide journalists, chaos reigned the committee
room.

Chairperson of the standing committee Mian Javed Lateef had to intervene to cool down the participants. He did so by reminding the federal minister of his misbehaviour.

Responding to a question raised by Absar Alam, Fawad Chaudhry had retorted that he did not consider him or Asad Toor as journalists.

Asma
Shirazi fired back, saying journalists need no certification by anyone.

The
situation also got out of hand when the federal minister pointed out division
among organizations representing journalists and called out some senior
journalists by name.

Mian Javed Lateef asked police officials present to explain how come they had arrested the accused in the Johar Town attack within 48 hours, but they could not find persons involved in attacking various journalists.

Police officials were unable to provide the chairperson with a satisfactory reply.

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