The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) has said that the statement by Federal instruction Minister Fawad Chaudhry that half of the dues of media industry were paid to media houses is false.
In a press statement, media groups also requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to advise concerned ministries to honour their commitments to media and clear the outstanding dues.
APNS and PBA “take strong exception to the statement of…Chaudhry Fawad Hussain in which he has claimed that around half of dues of media industry have been paid to media houses and still none of that amount has been used to pay salaries of workers,” the press release said.
Chaudhry “was quoted to say that half (Rs0.6 billion) of $9.6 million (Rs1.3bn) have been released to media houses who kept all of money for themselves alternatively of paying their journalists.”
Such statements are false and can create conflict within media industry. Previously also minister has been making disparaging public remarks against news media industry which is highly regrettable, press release stated.
APNS clarified that the dues owed to media by the federal and provincial governments are over Rs8bn and not Rs1.3bn. It said that the government hasn’t even released 10%, “let alone half of the Rs1.3bn fictitious figure given by the information minister”.
Out of the Rs:8bn, around Rs: 3bn is overdue for more than 4 years, and the rest of Rs3bn is overdue by nine months to 15 months. The majority due is of Federal and Punjab Government.
The press release further said that Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had called a special meeting to facilitate the settlement of media dues. He had asked the federal and provincial governments to clear undisputed dues within 30 days. “However, even after 60 days almost dues still remain unpaid. Both the federal information minister and federal finance minister were present in this meeting.”
The joint statement by PBA and APNS criticised remarks by Chaudhry “as not only being inaccurate and misleading but also not befitting a federal minister”.
“To set the record straight, so far not even 10% of the total amount owed by the federal and provincial governments has been paid, despite assurances given by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the APNS Executive Committee on Oct 16 and subsequent meetings and joint forums of PBA and APNS with the government.”
The press released further said that Chaudhry “appears to be misinformed by his ministry. It is recommended that he should reconfirm his facts before making public statements, as incorrect and wrong information, would reflect upon his credibility and status”.