Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb responded to former prime minister Imran Khan’s allegation of a ‘media blackout’ of his party on mainstream TV channels, saying that it was the public, not the media, that was ignoring his rallies.
The statement was issued during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, which was chaired by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Faisal Javed. During the meeting, Aurangzeb said, “It is the public of Pakistan that is blacking you out from politics.”
Earlier, the PTI chairperson, speaking to a workers convention in Lahore on Wednesday, chastised what he termed as the media blackout of PTI from all mainstream media sources, saying that during his government’s rule, “80% of the programs were against his government” and questioned why there was a ‘media blackout’ now.
Responding to Khan’s accusation, the information minister also said that the present government strongly believed in freedom of the press, and had said that no news channel would be taken off air. “No newspaper would be shut down, unlike the past four years,” she added.
She also reiterated that the coalition government had taken action to disband the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), a regulatory body set up by the previous government. There were talks being held with key players, she said, to brainstorm how to handle the challenge of fake news.
Aurangzeb disclosed that when Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was asked to provide data on channels restricting PTI coverage, they were unable to find evidence of any such channel. Addressing the former prime minister, she said “You cannot do politics by lying. You are being blacked out by the people of Pakistan because of your performance.”