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Rural Media Network Pakistan

TV & radio

RMNP Television Journalism Seminar
Mubarakpur
August 5, 2009


Mubarakpur(Rural Pakistan).August 6>Former Federal Minister for
Information & Broadcasting Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani has said that
Pakistan is a relatively media -poor country due to low literacy and
significant poverty.The print and electronic media serve as a mirror
image of tha nation and provide the instant history of our daily
lives.They create a pervasive impact, disproportionate to the level of
media poverty.Policy making and opinion making segments in both the
official sector and in the civil society remain hyper sensitive to
reportage and content of media.These views were expressed by him while
addressing Television Journalism Seminar in Mubarakpur last night
which was organised by the Rural Media Network Pakistan(RMNP).It was
chaired by President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar while the journalists
hailing from RahimyarKhan City,AhmedpurEast city,and rural areas of
Mubarakpur,Chanigoth,Khanqah Sharif and Uchsharif besides civil
society activists,local leaders of mainstream political
parties,nazimeens and councillors were also present on this
occasion.Senator Durrani added that in a country,where millions were
not able to read and writeTelevision is and would remain the most
important medium of information and communication.Television had also
the potential to be the most important media in Pakistan s' efforts to
develop and democratize. It was without question that this medium
could most effectively increase people s' access to and participation
in the media,by extension,in the dialogue surrounding issues and
events of public concern,he maintained.Former Federal Minister cited
the example of tv coveage of lawyers movement for the restoration of
independent judiciary which changed the whole political scenario.He
lauded the role of the Rural Media Network Pakistan(RMNP)for the
capacity building of both print and electronic media journalists in
rural Pakistan and termed its achievements as a amazing story.He said
that RMNP efforts should be supported by both national and
international professional organisations so it could expand its
operations for both in media training and in the promotion of the
freedom of expression in rural Pakistan where 65 percent population
was residing.He hoped that training maual in Urdu language provided by
International Center for Journalists (ICFJ)would help tv
correspondents based in small towns and rural areas in improving their
coverage for their respective tv channels.Earlier President RMNP Ehsan
Ahmed Sehar highlighted the RMNP activities duding last six years and
told that RMNP was planning to set up a Media Training & Resource
Centre in near future.He informed that RMNP programme aims at
providing training to disrict correspondents who were in fact the
backbone of the newspapers and media industry.The problem of lack of
facilities in rural Pakistan was an obstacle in utilizing the
potential of these journalists most of whom were untrained and were
unaware of media ethics.The power shift towards rural areas had made
it essential to focus on community journalism which was why the RMNP
plans on taking new media trends to the doorsteps of local journalists
based in rural areas,he concluded.General Secretary National Press
Union Mazhar Rasheed and others spoke on media training and press
freedom related issues and thanked RMNP for assisting rural
journalists.Later on Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani gave Urdu language
TV Journalism training manual to thirteen journalists Rana Mohd
Afzal,Farooq Ahmed,(RahimyarKhan),Mazhar Rasheed,Mazhar Bukhar,Syed
Mubashar Hassan(Mubarakpur)Ejaz Baloch(Khanqah Sharif),Shabbir Ahmed
Qureshi,Mohd Suleman Farooqi(AhmedpurEast)Shahid Bashir Anjum,Abdul
Saboor Langha(Chanigoth)and Mohd Akmal Sheikh,Doctor ZiaulHaq and
Abdul Ghani Langha(Uchsharif).

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Mubarakpur (Rural Pakistan) Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani giving ICFJ Urdu language TV Journalism Training Manuals to thirteen journalists of Rahimyar Khan, AhmedpurEast, Uchsharif, Mubarakpur, Khanqah Sharif and Chanigoth in TV journalism seminar organised by Rural Media Network Pakistan in Mubarakpur
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Mubarakpur (Rural Pakistan) Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani, President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar and General Secretary NPU Mazhar Rasheed addressing TV Journalism Seminar organised by the Rural Media Network Pakistan in Mubarakpur

Pemra's role in regulating the electronic media

In a world influenced by satellite and cyber-space technology, electronic media has a highly significant role to play in shaping the life and destiny of nations. The visual media, notably television, has a stupendous, impact upon moulding human minds and opinion.

In the given scenario the electronic media has an onerous responsibility in addressing the socio-economic problems of societies and disseminating unbiased information. This responsibility can be effectively shouldered if the media treads the path of accuracy and objectivity in transmission of its programmes.

BRIEF HISTORY:

Since independence in 1947 the electronic media in Pakistan remained dominated by the state-run Pakistan Television and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporations. Pakistan Television was launched in November 1964 which switched over to colour transmission 12 years later.

As access to diverse sources of information was limited and people could not keep abreast with the rapidly growing developments around them it was decided by the govt opened up electronic media to the private sector in the country. Soon after, in March 2002, it was decided to set up Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) with a view to facilitate, licence and regulate the growth of electronic media in the private sector.

REGULATORY FRAMEWORK:

The Authority set up under an Ordinance has now been made a statutory corporate body with the passing of PEMRA Amendment Act 2007 by the Parliament. The task of regulating the electronic media in a multi ethnic society with diverse socio cultural norms is indeed a daunting one. PEMRA has been given the mandate to improve the standards of information, education and entertainment; to widen the choice available to the people for news, current affairs and other programmes; to facilitate the devolution of responsibility and to ensure transparency by optimising free flow of information.

To carryout its mandate effectively PEMRA has formulated rules, regulations, code of ethics for licensing and functioning of Satellite TV, Cable TV distribution, FM Radio and other electronic media technologies. The rules have been prepared in consultation with stake-holders and comparative study of international media regulatory practices. The Rules, Regulations and Codes have been formulated with the aim of safeguarding our national ideology, national heritage, socio-cultural norms, ensuring a level playing field to stake-holders, plurality and diversity and discouraging monopolistic trends.

All operational decisions including conferment of licenses to TV, Cable Operators, FM Radio etc are taken independently by the Authority comprising representatives of the public and government officials. Through frequent consultation with stakeholders and the public and open bidding it is ensured that the entire process of licensing is made absolutely transparent. Council of Complaints comprising representatives of the people have been set up at the Federal and Provincial capitals to redress public complaints against any violation of code of ethics by media broadcasters. The Councils are independent public forums with no govt intervention or role. Their performance has been excellent.

PRESENT STATUS OF PRIVATE ELECTRONIC MEDIA:

In a short span of five years the country has witnessed a massive spurt in the number of TV channels and FM Radio stations in the private sector which is, unmatched in the South

Asian region and perhaps elsewhere. This boom is owed to the government's unequivocal commitment to a free media and the proactive role played by PEMRA in facilitating the growth of the electronic media. The unprecedented growth of TV channels, Cable TV and launch of FM Radio stations has indeed contributed remarkably in raising the standards of public awareness and literacy. A glance at the following facts and figures on licensing of media amply substantiates the massive growth which has taken place in electronic media in the private sector in the last 3/4 years.

CATEGORY NUMBER OF LICENSES:

i. Satellite TV Channels 67

ii. Landing Rights Permission

to TV Channels. 29

iii.FM Radio licenses. 116

iv. Cable TV Distribution

Operations 2168

v. Multimedia, Multi Channels

Distribution System (MMDS) 6

vi. Internet Protocol Television

(IPTV) 2

vii. Mobile TV licence 2

Today these Pakistani Satellite TV channels are providing a wide variety of programmes in Urdu (national language) and English including news, entertainment and sports programmes. In talk shows and panel discussions the channels air programmes which portray candid opinion of all segments of society including criticism of the establishment. Popular channels include GEO TV, ARY TV, DAWN News, AAJ, Express, Waqt, Channel-5, KTN, Indus, Khyber TV, Sindh TV, TV-1, APNA TV. Around a score applications are under process.

Landing rights permission have been given to 29 channels operating from abroad. These include BBC, CNN, Sky News, HBO, Cartoon Network, Ten Sports, ESPN, Fox News, Al Jazeera, Star Channels. In addition applications from a large number of foreign TV channels for landing rights permission are being processed.

A total of 116 FM Radio licenses have been given for entertainment and educational purposes in five phases through open and transparent bidding. Of these, 93 FM Radio stations are already on the air in all corners of the country. Mainly these stations broadcast programmes on topics of interest to the community residing within the reach of the station such as education, health, civic hygiene and economic matters.

The stations are operating in big and small cities and towns including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Mardan, Gawadar, and Nawabshah. After the earthquake 8 gratis licences were issued on priority basis which went into operation within 10 days of the tragedy. With no communications left in the wake of the disaster, these stations served as a communication network in the affected areas for providing information advice, social services and also entertainment.

The FM Radio licenses include non-commercial licenses given to leading Universities teaching Mass Communication. The underlying idea is to promote the development of skilled personnel and journalists for employment in the electronic media industry. The Universities include University of the Punjab, University of Peshawar, National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, Lahore College for Women University, Karachi University, Gomal University D.I. Khan, Fatima Jinnah Women's University, Rawalpindi, Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad.

The next phase of FM Radio licensing is aimed at setting up stations at each district of the country by the end of year ie 2008. After fulfilling constitutional and legal formalities, PEMRA's jurisdiction has been extended to Azad Jammu and Kashmir where six FM Radio licenses have been given. The stations are operating at Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Kotli, Rawalakot, Dhirkot, Bhimber.

Six licenses have been issued for Multimedia Multi Channel Distribution System (MMDS). This system is a state of the art wireless distribution system that enables distribution of upto 60 Satellite TV channels. Licenses have been given for Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi.

Two Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) licenses have been given to mainstream companies which could help bring about a qualitative change in the distribution system. Pakistan is proud to be the sixth country to adopt this technology in the Asia Pacific region. Besides, two licenses for Mobile TV distribution have been given to companies on a trial basis.

5. ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION:

Due to the government's investment friendly policies the country has witnessed a remarkable economic growth particularly over the last five years. This overall national growth has been conducive for the development of the electronic media industry in the private sector. According to estimates there has been a cumulative investment of approximately U.S. dollar one and half billion in the electronic media industry. New jobs to more-than 150,000 people of diversified skills and qualifications have been provided. In addition, over 7 million people have been accommodated through indirect employment.

With he current growth rate of more than seven percent per annum, it is estimated that the cumulative investment in the electronic media industry will reach nearly U.S. dollar two billion by the end of the current financial year in June, 2008. This expansion in investment would in turn have a multiplier effect on increasing job opportunities for skilled media personnel and journalists, expanding work of media production houses, advertising agencies and proliferation of the performing arts.

6. PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES:

Lifting of cross media restrictions in the PEMRA Act 2007 coupled with the government's commitment to a free media, the electronic media is likely to grow at a much faster pace than before in the days to come. This in turn will help develop various segments of the media industry. To ensure a level playing field, restrain monopolistic trends and provide equal opportunities to all stakeholders associated with the electronic media industry, appropriate codes of conduct will need to be adopted.

On its part, PEMRA is endeavouring to ensure Self-Regulation by media. Technological advancements have given rise to issues of convergence. These are being addressed by the media regulatory authority in consultation with the telecommunication regulatory authority. To realise the targets of UN Millennium Development Goals, a switch over from the analog to the digital system in TV and Radio operations is being made. State of the art digital head ends will replace the existing anomalous distribution medium.

Even though at a nascent stage, the Pakistan electronic media has succeeded in evolving a culture of harmony, facilitation and conducive environment for investment in the media sector. Tariffs have been rationalised in order to encourage growth of private.

Electronic media within the country as compared to the earlier situation where it was cheaper and convenient to uplink from abroad. As a result 19 Media houses have shifted back to Pakistan and many more are planning to come back. The licence fee and News Gathering uplinking permission fee has been rationalised. Coupled with this, all unnecessary procedures have been cut down and clear time lines laid down.

In fact, this is the primary reason why Pakistan is today singled out in the Region for exemplary growth of media. In fact it would not be an over statement that electronic media is probably one sector where "One Window Operation" facility actually exists. However, certain fundamental principles and parameters have been evolved through a consultative process with the stakeholders. No decision is taken without getting inputs from the stakeholders. In fact recently the stakeholders have produced a Voluntary Code of Conduct which is a clear manifestation to PEMRA's positive policies and belief in Self-Regulation.

The performance of PEMRA has not only been acclaimed by local stakeholders and viewers, it has also been acknowledged all over the world. If PEMRA can sustain its performance of the past 2 years, there is nothing which can stop it from becoming the leading Regulator and Facilitator in the region.

Source. Business Recorder

Rural journalists urge more community radio stations

Jul 08, 2005: Journalists and intellectuals in rural Pakistan are calling on their government to issue more licenses for small, community radio stations. Participants at a recent gathering in the Bahawalpur district agreed that more grassroots media would help hold local officials more accountable. Rural Media Network Pakistan organized the June 28 seminar on freedom of expression. The discussion covered a variety of issues, including licenses for independent radio stations, freedom of information laws, and recent government attempts to punish newspapers by withholding advertising. Ehsan Ahmed Sehar, convenor of the network, noted a political power shift from the capital to rural areas. The participants urged the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to help ensure more checks and balances by issuing more community radio licenses. In recent years PEMRA itself has urged faster allocation of frequencies for independent broadcasters. But the agency has said that security agencies must give up a bigger share of the limited spectrum. Journalists from four regional press clubs and the National Press Union attended the seminar. They expressed a need for more training facilities for rural journalists, who they said are the backbone of the newspaper industry.

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28 June 2005 seminar

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UNESCO guide

UNESCO has published an excellent manual on setting up and operating a community radio station. The full text of the 70 page manual can be read or downloaded in pdf format from here. Go to the bottom of the page and click on Com_radio.pdf once. Hard copy can be obtained from UNESCO offices.