Government to allow private TV, radio channels -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Government to allow private TV, radio channels

ISLAMABAD -The policy of the Government of opening up and deregulating state-owned TV and Radio, besides providing opportunity to people from all segments of society, including politicians to express their views on the electronic media is “a reflection of its commitment” to free flow of information in the country and transparency in governance, noted Federal Information Secretary Syed Anwar Mahmood.

In an interview in Islamabad he said the government’s policy is on increasing focus of news coverage. Now TV and Radio carry all types of news coverage unlike the past. The emphasis is on interactive programmes, he observed.

“It is for the first time that Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan are having live current affairs programmes. We invite people from all segments of society to give their views. In PTV programme Mukalamah, telecast live by all five stations of PTV, besides PTV World (seen in 40 countries) as well as on Radio Pakistan stations, heads and top leaders of all political parties of the country expressed their views on matters of national importance”, said Syed Anwar Mahmood, who is also Chairman of PTV and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC).

He spoke of “Face The Nation” programme on PTV and Radio Pakistan in which Cabinet Ministers speak and answer queries from the audience in the studio, on phone and e-mail. Even President General Pervez Musharraf recently came live on PTV and answered questions from journalists and audience in the studio, he added.

PTV has also introduced News Morning Programme telecast live Monday to Saturday morning from 7:00 am to 9:00 am focusing mainly on national and international issues. The participants are free to express their views on News Morning programme. It is also shown live on PTV World for viewers in Gulf, Middle East, South Asia and Central Asian countries.

Syed Anwar Mahmood said the major development in Radio Pakistan is FM-101 entertainment channel. Radio Pakistan recently launched a channel dedicated to news and current affairs seven days a week initially in two segments morning and evening. It is a new independent channel, separate from existing channels of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. The programmes of Radio Pakistan are also available for eight hours daily on the Internet.

According to the Information Secretary, for the first time Radio Pakistan is selling airtime to the private sector on medium wave. FM-101 airtime is fully sold out to the private sector for three years under an agreement signed in year 2000. Commercial airtime of Radio Pakistan’s main channel is being privatized, bids for which, have been received and under evaluation.

He said similar action has already been taken in PTV by giving commercial airtime on prime time. PTV signed a contract with Prime TV, which is operating in UK and other parts of Europe. It has 50000 subscribers. By end of August, 2001, PTV transmission will also be seen in North America through Prime TV, he stated.

Answering a question, Syed Anwar Mahmood said that PTV transmission cover 87 per cent areas across the country. However, there are some transmission problem in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Northern Areas and coastal parts of Balochistan Province. To solve these problem three boosters will be installed this year in these areas.

He said on Balochistan coast, signals of Radio Pakistan are not available. Turbat Radio Station on Balochistan coast covers only 10 km areas. In pursuance of President Pervez Musharraf directive a 100 kilowatt medium wave transmitter is being installed in Turbat, which will not only serve Balochistan coastal areas, but its range will also be available to listeners in Oman, and other adjoining Gulf states.

Pakistan Television with stations at Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta has three channels PTV-1, PTV-2 and PTV World. Radio Pakistan has channel 1, 2, news & current affairs channel, World service for overseas Pakistanis, External services in 15 languages, FM-101 channel (at Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and four more this year at Hyderabad, Sukkur, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, and Peshawar next year). New radio station at Mirpur Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) will be put into operation soon.

He disclosed that Pakistan Electronic Media Regulating Authority (PEMRA), is being established shortly aimed at licensing and regulating operation of private sector TV and Radio channels in the country. Necessary draft law has been prepared.

Source: The Nation