During the last few years a mushrooming growth has been witnessed in Pakistan’s electronic media. This has played a pivotal role in creating political awareness among the people and strengthening the democratic institutions in the country. Besides many positive things, the media has also caused some negative and detrimental effects on the society. These different electronic media groups seem to be typical corporate entities, ignoring the journalistic norms and code of ethics. They are often seen in the race with each other in getting better ratings and public viewership. Besides this, now, some news channels and anchorpersons can be witnessed criticizing each other severely and blaming others for advancing some vested interests. Sometimes, they also go to the extent of labelling others as traitors and accusing them of receiving funds from enemies of the state.

All these ill-practices are bringing a very bad name to the electronic media and damaging severely and rapidly its credibility and popularity among the people. At present, PEMRA is the only official watchdog which is responsible for the regulation and control of the whole electronic media in the country. Regrettably, like other public sector regulators, it has also failed in performing its entrusted task efficiently and transparently. Likewise, Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) is the media’s representative body which is also responsible for the formulation and implementation of the code of conduct for the electronic media. But this body seems more concerned with the rights of all the stakeholders associated with the electronic media than that of their duties. So far, no deliberate or significant effort has been made to regulate media and the self-regulation seems to be a dream.

There is a direly need for a media watchdog or regulatory body with some inbuilt mechanism that could ensure the efficient and effective internal regulation of electronic media. The proposed media regulatory body should be manned by some veteran and seasoned journalists known for their integrity and professionalism. Firstly, this body should frame a comprehensive code of conduct to be observed by everyone associated with the media. All complaints received by such body should extensively be investigated and evaluated and its findings and recommendations should strictly be implemented. Surely, it will purge the media of all unhealthy and undesirable elements without curtailing the oft-stated and oft-feared freedom of the press and expression.

MOHSIN RAZA MALIK,

Lahore, November 4.