Dated: 26th August, 2020
Delegation of CPNE Meet Federal Minister for Information & SAPM in Islamabad
ISLAMABAD – August 26, 2020: A delegation of Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) led by its President Mr. Arif Nizami has discussed in detail the situation of Press Freedom and problems facing by newspapers including other issues, in separate meetings with Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Information Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa in Islamabad.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said that freedom of press and democracy are inseparable and we are personally interested in solving the problems of all publications including medium, small as well as regional and local newspapers. In this regard, we will formulate a concrete policy after consultation with all stakeholders, including CPNE.
Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz assured that he strongly believes in freedom of the press. No steps have been taken by the PTI government to put pressure on the media. He said that the Prime Minister did not give me the responsibilities of Information Minister to increase the pressure on the media but said that all the dues of the media should be paid and the problems of the media should be solved. “We believe in free media and if you feel any pressure on the media, feel free to let us know,” he added.
Earlier, CPNE President Arif Nizami said that Pakistan’s media was facing direct and indirect pressure on press freedom due to which the media was suffering from innumerable types of tensions including financial difficulties. The arrest and non-trial detention of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, head of the Jang Geo Group, has also raised concerns and tensions.
In the meeting, the delegation of CPNE told the Federal Minister of Information and Broadcasting that medium and small as well as regional and local newspapers have the status of backbone of the media, just like small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the national economy. Because they employ thousands of journalists and other media workers. They said that these newspapers not only represent the people at the local level but also play a vital role in the development of human resources in the national economy.
The CPNE delegation further said that due to the current situation of the country, there is a crisis situation due to severe problems, the government should immediately address this crisis.
The CPNE demanded that we have already submitted our recommendations on the advertising policy, so the new advertising policy should be announced immediately in the light of the recommendations of all stakeholders, including the CPNE.
During the meeting, Federal Secretary Information Akbar Hussain Durrani and Principal Information Officer Shehira Shahid informed the delegation that according to the new payment method in which 85% of the payments are to be made directly to newspapers: payments for advertisements issued in April 2020 have started. However, the CPNE delegation assured that this process needs to be further expedited and we hope that it will make the system of direct payments transparent and expeditious in the near future.
The CPNE also demanded that in order to make the distribution of advertisements fair and transparent, the highly centralized practices should be abolished. Restore the previous powers of, all the regional offices of PID in all provinces, the media departments of the government agencies and departments. Their recommendations should be taken into consideration.
Leaving the distribution of government advertisements, worth billions of rupees at the mercy of a few people in the PID office in Islamabad cannot be ignore the fears of human error, corruption and nepotism.
Therefore, as in the past, the opinion of the media departments of the hundreds of government and semi-government agencies, issuing advertisements in the distribution of advertisements should also be taken into account so that the right targets of government advertisements can be reached. In addition, income tax refunds of media institutions for the last 10 years should be paid immediately.
The CPNE also expressed grave concern over the non-issuance of grants for private news agencies for the last two years despite the approval of the budget by the National Assembly and demanded immediate reinstatement of grants to news agencies.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Information, Lt. Gen. (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa briefed the meeting on the progress made on CPEC and said that, in our agricultural economy the real beneficiaries are at a loss due to middlemen. Just like in the media industry Newspapers and other media also faced a severe crisis due to a few advertising agencies. He clarified that there is no government policy to ignore giant media houses as well as small and medium, regional and local media but we will definitely focus on local media issues.
In a meeting, he agreed that a fair and transparent system for distribution of advertisements would be set up after consultation with all stakeholders including CPNE.
The delegation of CPNE includes: President Arif Nizami, Secretary General Dr. Jabbar Khattak, Sardar Khan Niazi, Irshad Ahmed Arif, Anwar Sajidi, Dr. Hafiz Sanaullah Khan, Ayaz Khan, Kazim Khan, Aijaz-ul-Haq, Tahir Farooq, Ghulam Nabi Chandio, Abdul Rahman Mangrio and Yusuf Nizami were among them.
Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE)