Press council to be party to oppose code of ethics plea
LAHORE, Aug 2: The Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) decided on Thursday to become a party in a petition filed by two Islamabad journalists in the Supreme Court taking a stance that framing a code of ethics for media was its exclusive right which could not be given to any other institution.
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the PCP presided over by its chairman Raja Shafqat Abbasi at Aiwan-i-Iqbal.
The proposal to be a party in the petition was put up by Mr Abbasi and approved by members. Mr Abbasi said that journalists all over the world had resisted any code of ethic by any institution on the ground that this would limit their functioning.
Seconding the proposal the members said that the PCP become a party after checking if the petitioner wanted the court to give a code of ethics for media or not.
Earlier, majority of the members asked the chairman to concentrate on the council’s basic function whether newspapers were following its code of ethics or not. Mr Abbasi said it was difficult for him to monitor newspapers because of lack of staff and funds. He urged the government to provide the council with adequate funds to enable it perform its duties.
A member said that seeking funds from the government was tantamount to surrendering the independence of the council.
Therefore, the council must ask for the creation of an endowment fund as was mentioned in the law regulating the body.
A debate as to who would fund the endowment fund ensued. Another member said the APNS could contribute for the fund provided the council proved its seriousness.
Members refused to entertain recommendations of a conference of the mass communication departments of various universities in the country saying that these were related to the entire media whereas the PCP could deal only with the print media.
Ayesha Ikram of the Higher Education Commission said that there was no harm in approving the recommendations because of the demands to expand the scope of the PCP and authorize it to also handle electronic media.
Another member said that there was a need to deal both electronic and print media from a single platform because of their identical code of ethics.
Since many members did not agree to such pleas, the matter was deferred and a committee was formed to sort out which recommendations were related to the print media so that these could be presented to the PCP’s next meeting for consideration.
Mr Abbasi who was first eager to present the recommendations apologized when Ghulam Nabi Mughal and another member objected to holding the conference of the mass communication departments of universities. There was no need to convene such a conference, Mr Mughal said.
Mr Abbasi said he was reviewing all media laws so as to suggest improvement, if any, in them, after Mr Bachal Leghari demanded repeal of the Defamation Act of 2004. All other members too demanded improvement in this and other laws if they contained any fault.
The meeting decided to ensure that all complaints against media should be filed while fulfilling all legal requirements. The decision was taken after Mr Leghari pointed out that some petitions had been submitted to the PCP without following legal formalities.
Earlier, Mr Abbasi announced the establishment of a PCP’s regional office in the Awain-i-Iqbal, and the plan to hold a conference of heads of similar councils of SAARC countries by the end of this year.