Jammu, Aug 8: Asserting that the Government is taking various measures to facilitate hassle-free discharge of professional duties by the journalists, Minister for Information, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali today said a State Media Advisory Committee (SMAC) will be constituted soon to hash-out the issues confronting the media in J&K.
The Minister said this during an interaction with the media fraternity, organized by the Press Club of Jammu here today. He reiterated that the State Government strongly believes in the freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution. “It will be the Govt’s greatest contribution if the media highlights the issues concerning the people in a responsive and responsible manner,” he said.
However, the Minister said that the government expects unbiased and fair reporting from media as it has a key role in dispelling the fears about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which is imperative for its socio-economic development.  He regretted that the repetitive negative media coverage by some TV channels about J&K results in unconstructive impact on the tourist influx and other activities.
He informed that the government has reconstituted Accreditation Committee and simplified the accreditation rules for the convenience of the journalists. An advisory has also been issued by the Govt to the concerned to treat Accreditation   and official press cards as curfew passes when the situation so demands, he added.
 Listing other measures taken by the government to support working journalists, he informed that the government has decided to institute three annual media awards – Lifetime Achievement Award, Best Journalist of the Year Award and Best Female Journalist award. He said various other steps are also being taken for the welfare of the working journalists which will be rolled out in a phased manner.
He further said the government has recently empanelled 99 newspapers and started online distribution of advertisements for ensuring transparency in the release of government advertisements. He informed that a Committee has been constituted for categorizing the newspapers on the basis of their circulation and taking other parameters into consideration. He also informed that the government also mulls to hike advertisement rates by 50 percent.
The Minister said, “Jammu Press Club would be developed as a Research Centre and guidelines for formulation of Welfare Scheme for journalists will also come out soon.”
“The government has already decided to have separate advertisement budget for print, electronic and digital media for strengthening these means of journalism as well,” he informed further adding that the Government is also planning to de-link advertisement distribution from PR work.
Responding to the demands projected by the media fraternity, the Minister assured that all possible support shall be provided to the journalists. He also sought a comprehensive proposal from the Press Club highlighting the issues of media fraternity.
President Jammu Press Club Ashwani Kumar apprised  the Minister about the challenges and difficulties being faced by the working journalists and requested for taking requisite  measures for the welfare of the working journalists.
Secretary General Press Club of Jammu Zorawar Singh Jamwal, while hailing the government for taking steps for setting up a Press Club in Srinagar sought help in further development of the Jammu Press Club.