Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb is addressing National Assembly on August 9, 2023. — Twitter/NAofPakistan

The Senate and the National Assembly on Wednesday approved the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which was retracted by the federal government earlier this week, with a majority vote.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb tabled the bill in the upper house of parliament, saying that amendments to the bill have been included with the input of all stakeholders.

The bill said a parliamentary committee will be formed for the appointment of the Pemra chairman and the Ministry of Information will propose five names for the media regulatory body chief.

The parliamentary body will comprise four National Assembly members and two members of the Senate with equal representation from the treasury and opposition benches.

The committee will send a name for the Pemra chief to the president for appointment, according to the amended law.

If the parliamentary committee could not agree on the name within 30 days, then the information ministry panel will send the bill to the prime minister who will then propose a suitable name for the post and forward it to the president, as per the bill.

The amended legislation has also replaced the word salary for media workers with dues.

Addressing the Senate session, the information minister said earlier there was no platform for media workers to resolve their issues.

The federal minister said the bill will ensure financial security for media workers as the government will not grant ads to those media houses that will not pay the dues to journalists for consecutive two months.

“Three clauses have been inserted in the amendment bill. There was room for change and improvement in the bill.”

Aurangzeb said the definition of misinformation and disinformation has been redefined in the amended bill.

Consultations were held with various journalistic organisations before the passage of the bill, the minister said, adding that media houses will not get government ads if they do pay minimum wage to their workers.

Moreover, the media houses violating laws related to wages can be imposed a fine of Rs10 million.

Earlier the bill was withdrawn after journalist associations expressed concerns over the legislation.

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