Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Wednesday sought suggestions from all stakeholders to stop the tendencies of disseminating fake news and ensure protecting rights of journalist community especially media workers. “We need regulations on fake news and protection of media workers’ rights. On these two points you [representatives of journalist bodies and media groups] forget the PMDA and must give your own suggestions but do not say that there should be no regulations,” he said. The minister expressed these views during the meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting that discussed the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA). Fawad Chaudhry said the government’s proposals on PMDA will be amended if they are not accepted. He said that whatever has been laid out so far are just proposals. “If these proposals are accepted, well and good, otherwise we will amend them,” he said. Chaudhry said that they have followed a foreign framework in formulating the proposed law and asked all parties to give their opinion. He said that they have suggested an eight-member commission comprising individuals from the media and government. “We will never form the PMDA if our proposals are not accepted,” he said. He said was it was the hallmark of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government that it held extensive consultations with all stakeholders, terming it rare in parliamentary history of the country. He said it remained practice of the past regimes that ordinances were issued and legislations were made without any consultations, but it was the PTI that adopted a true democratic way of debate on the much-needed legislation. The minister said the PMDA was just a framework based on four ideas mainly for the convergence of social media, newspapers and television channels under a single authority, to stop fake news and protect rights of journalists and media workers. For the purpose, he said the government studied the systems of Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and prepared the framework, adding these were just the ideas that could be advanced, if the all stakeholders agreed on them. “We will move on it with consensus.” Fawad said it was unfortunate that someone floated a fake news about issuance of an ordinance in this regard and even some editorials were written on it, giving an impression that something like ‘criminal prosecution’ was being prepared. The minister said the government had already shared the framework with a joint parliamentary committee, National Assembly and Senate bodies besides holding discussion with leading press clubs and media groups to evolve consensus on the PMDA. “Convergence of social media, newspapers and news channels under one authority is need of the hour as the whole world has already switched over to it. Today mobile phone is your social media, newspaper and TV, keeping them separate is almost not possible in this era,” he said. Fawad said under the PMDA, the government wanted to provide media workers a platform for redressal of their grievances regarding contracts enforcement and salary payments by setting up a Media Complaint Commission. To counter fake news, it had been suggested the establishment of Media Tribunals. Initially, he said, the Media Compliant Commission would be set in in 10 cities, which would consist of five members with main mandate of ‘arbitration and mediation.’ Whereas, the media tribunals would be headed by a judge of high court or a person qualified to be judge of the high court.