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The panel also recommended not to ‘emphasize too much about smaller events like rape, robberies and murder, as they can have ‘a much worse impact.’ Photo: A screen grab of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority website.
The panel also recommended not to ‘emphasize too much about smaller events like rape, robberies and murder, as they can have ‘a much worse impact.’ Photo: A screen grab of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority website.

Pakistan’s answer to terrorism: show only good news at bedtime

A list of 46 guidelines has been endorsed for news media, including censoring live reporting, setting up editorial boards to vet 'each and every news'

Karachi: Pakistan has a new weapon in its fight against terrorism. Good behavior norms by the media.

A parliamentary panel has endorsed a list of 46 guidelines for television and print media, including censoring live reporting and setting up editorial boards to vet “each and every news, image, breaking news," according to a statement on the parliament’s website.

To aid the psycho-social development of children the panel says “it’s a bad idea to speak against the country’s security apparatus," and recommends showing “good news first and if possible before bedtime."

Pakistan already has rules for reporting acts of terrorism and in June suspended the license of Geo TV for airing comments that accused the country’s spy agency of involvement in an attack on a talk show host. The latest guidance comes after the massacre of 152 people, including 134 students, by Taliban terrorists in Peshawar on 16 December.

“It is important for a policy to be followed, but what the government is asking is impossible," said Zeshan M. Khan, director at Ilm TV. “Showing happy news at bedtime is simply not possible. But, it is necessary that channels do follow a code of conduct."

The panel headed by Marvi Memon, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party, also recommended not to “emphasize too much about smaller events like rape, robberies and murder," as they can have “a much worse impact." The recommendations need approval from parliament.

Responsible media

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority in June ordered the suspension of Geo TV for two weeks and imposed a $99,000 fine, according to a statement. Soon after an 19 April attack on journalist Hamid Mir, Geo broadcast comments alleging that officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, were behind the attack.

The committee also suggested that terrorists not be given coverage. Violators should be penalized, the panel said.

This “does not mean government demands something that is tantamount to censorship," said Azhar Abbas, president of Bol Television channel. “But media has to be responsible."

Prime Minister Sharif and army chief Raheel Sharif, who’re not related, vowed to eliminate all terrorists operating in Pakistan after the attack on the school. Bloomberg

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