ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Arif Alvi on Tuesday signed into law an amended media bill that aims to thwart “fake news,” Pakistani state media reported.
The Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Amendment Bill 2023 provides definitions for “fake news,” “disinformation,” and “misinformation,” while increasing the financial penalty for deliberately spreading false news from Rs1 million to Rs10 million, according to a report published by the state-run Radio Pakistan broadcaster.
It uses the term “certified news” instead of “news” in the preamble and seeks to broaden the scope of public entertainment, education, and information.
“President Dr. Arif Alvi has assented the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority Amendment Bill 2023,” the report read. “He approved the bill under Article 75 of the Constitution.”
Under the new law, a three-member committee would be granted the authority to shut down a channel instead of the PEMRA chairman. It also mentioned the Council of Complaints that would address the problems of delayed payments of journalists’ salaries by their organizations.
Outgoing information minister, Marriyum Aurangzeb, last month said the PEMRA bill had been finalized after “extensive consultations with all stakeholders.”
“The primary objective of the bill is to improve the welfare of journalists, and enable a free, responsible and ethical media environment in Pakistan, as practiced in democratic countries around the world,” she continued.
However, media outlets critical of the outgoing government had objected to the development at the time. ARY News, a Pakistani television news channel, described it as an attempt to impose restrictions on news channels and their coverage of important events.
The channel’s president, Ammad Yousaf, said no government or bureaucrat could determine the news agenda of a news channel.