The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) has condemned what it identified as “forms of coercion by any government” that has used advertisements as “a tool to influence editorial policy”.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the PBA asserted that government advertising should never be used to influence editorial content or to control free speech.
This development comes hours after PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz admitted that a viral audio clip in which she can be heard instructing someone to stop ads to certain TV channels, was authentic.
“I am not saying it has been compiled from different [separate] occasions. It is my voice,” Maryam admitted during a press conference.
Taking notice of the issue, the association demanded that the government should make public all media spending of the last 20 years, including the ones distributed by the incumbent government.
“The present government also faces accusations of adopting the same strategy whereas as per its’ manifesto, it should ensure that taxpayers’ money for advertisement in the public interest is well spent and is given on merit,” added the statement.
It noted that the present government has also “centralised” advertising decisions, accusing it of taking “this right away from individual government organizations, departments and ministries in order to exercise control on media”.
The present government’s track record on media relations has also been under a lot of criticism by media watchdogs and journalists’ bodies, the PBA said.
“When governments try to control Freedom of expression, democracy and the people of Pakistan suffer the most.”