PTV licence fee increased quietly, added to power bills
By Ahmad Fraz Khan
LAHORE: The federal government has quietly increased PTV monthly fee by Rs10, burdening hapless consumers by a massive additional load of Rs2.4 billion a year, for further facilitating the “official propaganda.”
Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), the collection agent in this case, has already started including the raised fee in its bills, saying that it was merely collecting money on behalf of the government and the PVT.
Such increases are normally announced in the federal budget, but the current increase has come in the middle of a fiscal year and that too without any formal announcement.
Interestingly, both Pepco, which collects the fee, and the PTV, the beneficiary, are not ready to take any responsibility for the increase, which will cost consumers a staggering Rs200 million a month, with fee going up to Rs35 per month from the current Rs25.
“The Pepco is a collection agency and it cannot question the increase,” says general manager finance (power) of Pepco, Muhammad Ashraf Behzad. The Pepco was duly informed (by the ministry of information) and it has executed the increase. The legality and the mannerism of the increase did not fall in the purview of the company, he said, and added: “Any inquiry about the raise should either be directed to the PTV or the ministry of information.”
A PTV official, who did not want to be named, insisted that Pakistan Television Corporation could not increase its fee “on its own” and only the federal government could order such an increase.
He said Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani had issued the notification.
The PTV carries out extensive, but commercially damaging, propaganda in the name of “state and national interest.” On top of it, the PTV was forced to install over 100 commercially nonviable boosters in Balochistan areas, when satellite links are available. The government has to pay back the corporation against its own “propaganda time and investments,” not for the betterment of the PTV, he said.
The increase of Rs10 per month has now been included in commercial and domestic electricity bills, which are around 20.20 million, around 18.20 million under Pepco and two million under the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC). All of them would collectively pay over Rs200 million a month to the Pakistan Television Corporation to carry out propaganda on behalf of the government.