A mobile phone is a newspaper, TV and digital media today and from government’s point of view, the use of this tiny device has to come under a certain limitation for keeping things calm and smooth for the sitting government.
There are more than seven different authorities and bodies that regulate or keep an eye on the different medium of communications and broadcast in Pakistan.
The cabinet has approved to make a body that will control or instead oversee all three mediums of communication and broadcast in Pakistan – electronic, print and digital media.
Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) is likely to be the name of an upcoming body that will form after the consultation of opposition leaders, media houses and journalists, Federal Minister for Information, Fawad Chaudhary announced in a press briefing on January 24th.
On the surface, the purpose of the single body is to merge all other authorities into one single entity and regulate electronic, print and cyber media to counter fake news, false propaganda, misleading of masses through social media and control media piracy.
However, media critics find this step an effort to put sanctions on media and the freedom of speech in Pakistan. To them, it would become a tool to kill independent voices in the country especially on the digital media which highlight the social issues more than other conventional media in Pakistan.
A recent example is the Sahiwal Massacre where the video was made by a citizen and shared on social media which created a state of agony across the country forcing the government to take action against the responsible.
Inspired by the model of Ofcom which regulates the media in the UK, the PTI government had expressed its intention to streamline media in Pakistan soon after it came into power.
Fawad Chaudhry, while talking to a TV channel expressed that PMRA will comprise of people from the government and independent media people. And he further assured that government’s representation would be lesser than independent media people for not influencing the freedom of speech in Pakistan.
It is worth remembering here that PTI has been relying mainly on the limitless power digital media for running its election campaign ever since it started the struggle for coming into power. The trend was later followed by other political parties who are now on par with PTI.