How media can self-regulate?

CPU report Imperfect freedom1

Yesterday’s terrorist attack on Karachi airport and misreporting by TV channels calls for some soul searching.

We had heard of plane hijacking attempts, several planes on fire, even a Google map showing a broken plane. Only a few hours later, these all turned out to be false. The army’s ISPR had to take over comms and run the discourse in later hours.

Two ways to go about this. 1, the likes of PEMRA enforce a discipline on channels to make sure they do accurate reporting. Or, 2, media do a self-regulation exercise.

In an era of 24/7 breaking news, a battle for viewer ratings, and to become the next-best after the leader of the pack Geo is closed for 15 days, there are no easy answers here.

A few years ago, in 2002, when facing a similar question of self-regulation in the UK, Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) gathered editors from Asia and Africa (in separate groups).

The South and Southeast Asia group met in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Ghazi Salahuddin from then The News, now with Geo TV, and Wali Zahid from Institute of Media & Communications represented Pakistan. Since it was pre-cable TV era, the issues then were mainly around print media and daily newspapers.

This is the publication that came out from CPU London. A bit dated, this could be a useful read to have an understanding of the ongoing tensions between media and the state institutions. You can download this to view ideas of Editors from across the Commonwealth world.

A year earlier, in February 2001, Wali Zahid had made a presentation at the University of California at Berkeley’s annual South Asia Conference on government and press relations. This too dealt with issues in pre-cable TV channels era.

CPU report Imperfect freedom2

You can download the Imperfect Freedom, below:

CPU report Imperfect freedom


  1. Salaams Wali,

    Hope you are well. Interesting post. In my opinion as someone who has been part of that ‘circus’, is that PEMRA needs to go back to the drawing board and actually work out how it’s going to function. Quasi-governmental? Confused? Inefficient? Or all of the above and more….
    As for the channels, it’s about time that the Heads understand how detrimental their flakey news gathering skills are for a country as fragile as Pakistan. Where is their moral compass? Most of the channels have no internal code of conduct and its a free for all, allowing for sensational, inaccurate dribble to pass as news. It’s really quite shameful.

    There you go….my two pence 🙂

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