Pakistan warns media against promoting Valentine’s Day

A man inflates a heart shaped balloon ahead of Valentine’s day in Peshawar, Pakistan Feb. 7, 2018. (Reuters/Fayaz Aziz)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Pakistan warns media against promoting Valentine’s Day

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s media regulator has warned television channels and radio stations to refrain from promoting Valentine’s Day after a court banned celebrations last year.
Valentine’s Day is increasingly popular among younger Pakistanis, with many taking up the custom of giving cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts to mark the occasion.
But the country remains a deeply traditional Muslim society and many disapprove of the holiday as a Western import.
Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain told a crowd of students in 2016 that the day had no place in the Muslim-majority nation and urged young people to focus on their studies instead.
Last year, the Islamabad High Court prohibited celebrations in public spaces and government offices across the country.
In a Twitter post Wednesday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said last year’s ban was still in place and urged the media to “desist from promoting” the festivities.
Social media users were quick to respond, with some mocking the regulatory body.
“Hate preechers who incite violence in name of Islam are back on air. These hate monger are promoted & protected by the state of #Pakistan. But love speak and red heart balloon and flower vendors are a danger to this republic and Islam,” journalist Ahmad Noorani posted on Twitter.
Another user Adnan Sami commented on Facebook: “PEMRA directs media to refrain from promoting Valentine’s Day, PEMRA never directs media from promoting hate monger Mullahs.”
Others lauded the decision, echoing the views of officials who have previously blasted the celebrations as “vulgar and indecent.”
Ali Danish said on Twitter: “Pemra did right. What sort of love do you want to spread via Valentine’s day? Us distancing ourselves from islam is haunting us big-time.”


New media center to assess quality of reports and effect on KSA

Saudi Arabia issues a royal decree to establish a new center for media and communication studies. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 07 December 2018
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New media center to assess quality of reports and effect on KSA

  • The royal decree states that the center will have an independent annual budget approved by the king, and a board of directors of no fewer than five members

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has decided to establish a new independent organization to address the quality of media reports affecting the image of the Kingdom.
A royal decree was issued on Nov. 24 to create a new center for media and communication studies.
The purpose of the center is to effectively gauge local and international opinion and conduct studies to measure and analyze global and regional events and their overall impact.
Its role, as stated by the decree, is to collect and analyze media information, studies and research relating to local, regional and international political, economic and social issues and events. It will study the effects of these issues, positive or negative, on the image of Saudi Arabia and suggest ways to respond.
The center will also conduct surveys to gauge public opinion on local and international events, and will communicate to media organizations information about the country to promote a national sense of belonging and unity. It also aims to learn from domestic and foreign experts in the fields it covers, and will prepare and develop programs and create channels of communication with local and international media outlets to assess local and international opinion.
It will additionally work with research centers and consulting firms, build databases, organize workshops and conferences in cooperation with universities and other specialist bodies, and create training programs.
The royal decree states that the center will have an independent annual budget approved by the king, and a board of directors of no fewer than five members. It will be directly related to the Royal Court organizationally, but remain financially and administratively independent.

A welcome decision
Intellectuals and media figures in Saudi Arabia welcomed the royal decree.
During a discussion on the “Isbou’ Fi Sa’ah” program on the Saudi TV channel Rotana Khalijiyah, the panelists emphasized the need to develop Saudi media institutions to properly represent the Kingdom as a country and a society.
Mohammad Al-Osaimi, a Saudi journalist and writer, said that the Saudi media, at all levels, lacks a clear vision and operation strategy. He also said by that by narrowly targeting a local audience it does not properly address people outside the Kingdom, and so should also focus more on the international audience.
“One of the most important conditions to influence regional and international public opinion is to open up to the international community,” he said.
Al-Osaimi highlighted the need to ease the entry into the Kingdom of the international media and its work, adding: “Our media insist on a too-perfect image; there’s no perfect state in the world, that’s normal.”
Dr. Majed Al-Turki, the director of the Center of Information and Arabian-Russian Studies, said that the establishment of the media center shows that Saudi Arabia’s decision-makers are increasingly aware the importance to the state of carrying out such research, but suggested that its performance should be monitored by an independent institution to ensure it fulfills its role.