Updated: Apr 22
Media has emerged as the fourth pillar of the state. In present times media has the most powerful impact on shaping the lives of individuals and society apart from serving as an informative and an entertaining entity all over the world. It is said that today is the era of media war, which clearly depicts its importance as media, through the power it has and the impact it creates, can raise individuals and countries to the status of hero or vice versa. Everything propagated through the media is considered as true and independent of personal interests of Editor and Media house owners.
It is being observed that in the State of Azad Jammu Kashmir, no Government body is monitoring or regulating Electronic or Print Media. They just propagate any “information” they get but for a professional journalist there is a huge difference between “Information” and “News”. Information is something which does not have facts and is not verified, while News is always supported by facts, evidences and moreover it is verified.
Considering Print Media first, hundreds of Newspapers are being published every day and no one cares what they ought to publish. The Newspapers are just publishing articles and News stories without any evidences or verification and for the purpose of blackmailing. Local reporters are propagating fake and below the belt news of well reputed members of society. The reporters totally neglect the basics of media ethics and the main reason for that is that the reporters are uneducated or hardly matriculated. So we as a society have given rights to these uneducated people to bash the reputation of senior government officials as well as reputed members of society and lower them in esteem of their rights. They only have three reasons of being a journalist; self-interest, self-interest and self-interest. It’s not only reporters but also the media house owners responsible for that, as reporters are not paid employees of the media houses so they are left with only choice to blackmail and earn.
Another important medium of information is Electronic Media. Electronic Media is more influential in today’s world as nearly every person has access to it through televisions and mobile phones. Although, the State of AJK is lacking satellite channels although we can still find number of cable News Channels in nearly every city of AJK. Same like Print Media there is no Government body which is regulating or monitoring them. Although, News Channels are beneficial for the public but on the other side they are sources of unethical and unverified news. It is evident that some Mirpur and Muzaffarabad based News Channels take money for interviews and the stage is left for guests to do character assassination of any reputed member of society. The reporters appointed by news channels have only self-interests and only once in a blue moon they will raise the voice of a layman.
As Kashmir is an independent state, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Body has no jurisdiction to take any actions but surely Azad Kashmir is in dispensable need of a regulatory body. Media regulation is the control or guidance of mass media by governments and other bodies. This regulation, via law, rules or procedures, can have various goals, for example intervention to protect a stated "public interest", or encouraging competition and an effective media market, or establishing common technical standards. Rationale behind creation of this agency is to perform the regulatory function on media, such as “improve the standards of information, education and entertainment” by playing a facilitator role for the broadcast media and to monitor its distribution services. Furthermore, it also aims to “enlarge the choice available” in media news regarding various aspects, to enhance “public and national interest” in public. Last but not the least, its functioning also includes ensuring “accountability, transparency and good governance”.
The regulatory body is beneficial for every concerned, Government can seek revenue from licensing them, audience will get reliable information and Media Industry can progress in mean of revenue, quality and publications. The Media Houses working just for the sake of harassing and blackmailing people will have to shut down their business and on the other side authentic news sources will attract the audience which will lead to an increase in their revenue. The Electronic Media after getting licensed will attract companies’ ads which will stabilizes the industry. The total worth of the Media Industry in 2017 was $2 trillion as per U.S. Department of Commerce and what AJK Media is gaining from them is hardly 0.0000001 percent of it. So Government as well as media house owners have to look into it and have to take necessary measures to invest in this trillion dollar industry not only this will help in stabilizing the economy of state but will also give platform to Kashmir's leadership to convey their point of view through it, which depriving in Pakistan's mainstream media.
(First Published by Daily Country News, Publication rights remains with Author)