Over 6000 newspapers have been identified by the Federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as “dummy publications”. Most of these publications were started just to secure government advertisements, as per the reports.
The Office of Press Registrar of the Ministry of Information has given April 15th deadline to all the presses, printing newspapers, to fulfill all regulatory requirements.
A senior official of the ministry said, “The process of streamlining and mainstreaming the whole media industry was initiated by the last [PML-N] government. The basic target was to clear ambiguities and corruption in the whole chain as a large number of ministry employees too were part of this chain.”
It is pertinent to mention here that the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan accepted in the Senate Standing Committee on Information that officers of her ministry did took part in disseminating advertisements to dummy publications of their choice.
She said, “There are around 4,200 dailies and weeklies across the country registered with the Press Information Department (PID), having a circulation of around 20 million, whereas the total number was much higher if all regional dailies and weeklies were counted.”
As per an information ministry official, there are two categories of dummy papers. The first is the one in which the title of the paper is obtained and held to negotiate with potential investors but do not go for the printing of the paper. The second category of dummy papers includes publications that are printed after obtaining advertisements.
The official said, “The best way to check such publications was streamlining their printing press, and the recent move has shown that some presses print a large number of papers but physical inspection showed that they do not even have such a capacity.”