Nine papers to get TV channel license
ISLAMABAD – Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has said the government has decided to allow nine major newspapers to launch their television channels, and decision in this regard will be taken soon after the forthcoming federal budget.
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly during the question hour here on June 4, the minister said the Pakistan Television (PTV) was ready to face competition, and after the launch of new channels, people would have a choice to watch various programmes.
He said the new channels would also provide employment to a large number of people. He said the government was following an open media policy which was evident from the fact that it had decided to allow even those newspapers to launch channels which belonged to the opposition.
In response to a suggestion of a member regarding improvement in the standard of PTV news segment, the minister said the PTV had a national responsibility and it could not give news without verification.
“PTV cannot telecast news that a third blast has taken place at Guru Mandir, or a plane has been crashed,” the minister said, hinting at the wrong news reports recently presented by a private news channel.
He said the PTV transmission was being watched by 85 per cent population of the country, while the private TV channels at present had access to only about 12 per cent population.
In response to a supplementary question, he said the PTV was showing the question hour of the National Assembly session without any editing. He said every government considered question hour the most difficult part of the proceedings, but the credit went to the present regime that it was telecasting it unedited.
Answering a question, the minister said instead of short wave radio channels, the government was bringing cost-effective FM channels in Northern Areas. He said tenders had already been invited from 11 Chinese firms for setting up FM channels.
In a written reply to a question of Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, the minister said time in PTV news segment (Khabarnama) was allocated in terms of news value and not on the basis of any quota. He further said the PTV intended to increase its news coverage time and would shortly initiate a district-specific news bulletin of 10-minute duration.