Caretaker PM says media should generate money on its own.
Media body says federal govt owes almost Rs2 billion to newspapers.
Media achieved freedom through a long struggle with many sacrifices.
ISLAMABAD: The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), and the Parliamentary Reporters Association of Pakistan (PRAP) all expressed disappointment with Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar’s comments regarding print media earlier this week, reported The News on Thursday citing separate statements of the modies.
In response to a query regarding the Ministry of Information’s pending summary of an increase in government advertising rates, the prime minister said that the print media should alter its flawed business model and generate money on its own rather than relying on government support.
The APNS said that the prime minister seemed to be misinformed about the issue because print media does not ask for government grants or subsidies; rather, newspapers run government advertisements at reduced costs.
The APNS maintained that the government advertising rates are far lower than the commercial — about one-fourth of commercial rates — adding the outgoing prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, had announced a long-pending increase in the government advertisement rates, the summary of which is still lying with the Finance Ministry.
The APNS stated that, alarmingly, the federal government owes almost Rs2 billion to newspapers in payment of long outstanding bills.
If the respected prime minister thinks this business model is flawed, the print media is prepared to correct the flawed model by withdrawing these subsidised rates being offered to the government by newspapers, the APNS stated.
The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) expressed surprise over the inadequate information the caretaker PM has, as he linked media freedom with the government advertisement.
The CPNE said that PM Kakar had been fed misleading information about the media.
The CPNE stated that, according to PM’s statement, the media had to struggle for its freedom and that the struggle would be done through his money.
It said that newspapers and magazines had never demanded personal funds, rather every government and every institution is obliged to media for publicity.
According to the CPNE, the fund meant for advertisements is not the money of any ruler, rather it is the taxpayers’ money which should be justly distributed under the head of advertisements.
It said nowhere in the world do governments do business, control the advertisements and seek favour from the newspapers and magazines about the matters pertaining to editorial.
The CPNE said that the media had not taken its freedom in a beggar’s bowl, as it achieved it through a long struggle with many sacrifices.
The organisation’s standing committee in a meeting with the prime minister on October 12 (Thursday), had made it clear that it had no objection to the distribution of ads, rather it wanted implementation of the previous government’s promise to increase ads rate and clearance of the arrears pending since years.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Reporters Association of Pakistan (PRAP) termed the treatment of media representatives, during PM Kakar’s press conference, an act of authoritarianism.
PRAP President Usman Khan and Secretary Naveed Akbar Chaudhary, among other officials, expressed concern over derogatory behaviour with the media representatives during the question and answer session at the press conference.
They said PRAP believed that the prime minister’s behaviour in the press conference was humiliating.
The PRAP said the PM, instead of talking about his caretaker government’s performance, tried to give a lecture by unnecessarily criticising the media representatives.
They said such behaviour did not befit this important position, adding the PM should not blame the incompetence of his official media team.
They condemned the information minister for ordering some media representatives not to enter the Prime Minister House. The PRAP said it would stage a walkout from the Senate against the PM’s behaviour.