Journalists have fought a long and untiring battle against censorship to secure the freedom of expression in Pakistan. Ironically, today this freedom is seriously threatened by the irresponsible conduct of some journalist themselves. In the event of a deadly attack on a senior journalist, the irresponsible and aggressive reporting from his employer TV channel, against Pakistan’s most sensitive intelligence agency, is being severely criticized everywhere. So far, our electronic media has not become mature enough to properly identify its professional and institutional responsibilities. This kind of attitude is bringing a bad name to the electronic media and damaging its credibility and popularity among the people.

Under the law, PEMRA is the official regulator, responsible for the regulation and control of the electronic media in Pakistan. Like other public sector regulators, it has also failed in properly performing its entrusted task. In the absence of any professional commitment and proficient administrative structure, it is currently being run on ad-hoc basis. Owing to some inherent weaknesses and internal controversies, it is unable to play any pro-active role to ensure a transparent media regulatory regime in the country. At present they have no role beyond issuing TV channel licenses for heavy fees.

Likewise, Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) is the media’s representative body which is also responsible for the enforcement of ‘code of conduct’ forjournalists in electronic media. Like other organizations in print media namely APNS, CPNE and PFUJ, this body also seems more concerned with the rights of all the stakeholders, associated with the electronic media, than that of their responsibilities. There is dire need for a voluntary media watchdog or regulatory body, with some inbuilt mechanism, that could ensure an efficient and effective internal regulation. No single media house should jeopardize the rights and freedom of the whole media. Nor should any individual be allowed to damage the image of its own media house.

MOHSIN RAZA MALIK,

Lahore, May 1.