The media industry in Pakistan is in crisis. We are faced with a situation where freedom of expression is at threat and journalists’ safety is challenged by physical and virtual attacks. The industry is also in a financial crisis. Over the last few years, the structure of the media economy, regulated through different laws and the changes in advertising policies and tariffs have triggered a financial crunch that has resulted in thousands of layoffs and a significant number of small and local news outlets shutting down. The industry is also heavily affected by the pandemic and has lost various journalists to the coronavirus.

PFUJ’s comprehensive Charter of Demands, lay out measures that can steer out the media industry out of the on-going crisis. An independent and robust press is the cornerstone of any democratic nation, and at this juncture, we look towards the government to help the media industry in Pakistan

Demands

Demands to deal with financial crisis 

  1. Federal Government should immediately call /arrange a meeting of all the stakeholders of media industry (owners, Representatives of PFUJ and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and representatives of Information Departments of all the provinces including AJK and GB) to chalk out a comprehensive consensus plan to solve the financial crisis in the media industry.
  2. Federal Government should play its role in safeguarding jobs of Journalists and media workers and direct the owners of all the media houses and newspapers to immediately stop the process of retrenchments and re-employ/restore the services of those journalists and media workers who were fired/terminated from the jobs for the last few years and in case of failure government advertisement should immediately be stopped.
  3. Wage Award for the Newspaper employees announced in January 2019 be implemented without any further delay. The government should immediately create effective mechanisms for the implementation of this award in letter and sprite, including making government advertisements conditional with its implementation.
  4. Some of the Media houses implementing wage board in way which is resulting in reduction of salaries as allowances are being merged into basic pay, this practice shall be stopped henceforth with.
  5. Due to Covid-19 and financial crisis, media houses imposed salty cut to the tune of 40%, which needs to be restored immediately by all the media houses.
  6. A service structure similar to the wage award for print media, should also be devised for broadcast and the digital media and implemented across all media categories.
  7. To ensure that the media workers are given their outstanding dues, the Federal government should make payment of advertisement arrears conditional to the payment of all the outstanding dues of media workers/journalists and the withdrawal of cuts on media workers’ salaries.
  8. Federal government should immediately take measures for restoration of regional newspapers and a comprehensive plan for restoration of advertisements quota for regional newspapers which provide job opportunities to journalists in less developed and smaller cities and towns.
  9. Soft small loans and life insurance packages should also be designed and health card schemes and quotas in the Prime Minister Housing Scheme for journalists and media workers should also be announced.
  10. The labor departments in all regions should be tasked by the government, to conduct surveys in media houses, assessing the working conditions and compliance with all labour laws. Media houses should additionally be assessed for measures taken for job, life, health security of journalists / media workers.
  11. Federal and Provincial Governments should devise a balanced and merit based comprehensive advertisement policy
  12. PFUJ demands for the appointment of more judges in the Implementation Tribunal for Newspapers Employees (ITNE), in all the provincial headquarters for speedy disposal of cases of newspaper employees.

Demands to ensure Media Freedoms and Journalists Safety 

  1. PFUJ demands that all draconian laws like Pakistan Media Development Authority (PDMA) designed and used for gagging the media and intimidating the journalists be repealed or amended. We demand that the government revisit these rules and regulations and laws, including Article 19 and 19-A, which should be revisited by the parliament immediately to further strengthen the freedom of expression and right of access to information.
  2. Government should desist from misusing PEMRA law and imposition of censorship on the media. And PDMA is already rejected by all the stakeholders including PFUJ all the Unions and Press Clubs, therefore PDMA bill should be withdrawn as there will be no compromise on it.
  3. The government should immediately withdraw the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content Rules 2020, which are clearly designed to control digital / and social media and make amendments in Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) 2016 in consultation with the stakeholders including PFUJ.
  4. Federal and Provincial governments are called upon to direct police and law enforcing agencies to make foolproof arrangements for providing safety and security to life and property of journalists and media workers and immediate arrest of killers of Journalists and media workers for the last 20 years in the country. A compensation of Rs. 20 lac (per family) for those journalists / media workers who were murdered, should also be announced besides free education and health facilities to children and families. Moreover the governments should also identify and arrest all those state and non-state actors who are involved in the kidnapping of the journalists in the country as without the arrest of the criminals, whether state actors or non-state actors, the government cannot claim that its hands are clean.
  5. The government should direct the police and other law enforcing agencies to stop registering treason cases and under Anti-Terrorist Act on false allegations and take action against the responsible ones.
  6. Harassment of women Journalists, media workers and anchors at workplace and trolling on social media is unchecked and widespread, Government (Federal and provincial) must devise a policy/strategy and direct owners of the media houses to strictly implement laws, rules and regulations for the safety and security of the female journalists, media workers and anchors.
  7. Sindh government should re-open murder cases of journalists Denial Pearl and Wali Babar for speedy justice to bereaved families besides stern action against the responsible police officers for their negligence in leaving loopholes in investigation/prosecution.
  8. All the provincial governments should take the measures for establishing Press clubs at district headquarters’ level.