Senate panel underscores need for greater objectivity in PTV’s news content
By: WAQAR LILLAH
ISLAMABAD: Senate’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Friday stressed the need for improving Pakistan Television’s (PTV) news content, making it independent and viable by minimising the Information Ministry’s interference in PTV affairs.
The committee said that PTV had been set up to serve the general public and not the government, but the content of the channel was influenced by the Information Ministry giving an impression that it was serving the government’s interest. The committee recommended transparent coverage of political issues, besides calling for giving equal treatment to all political parties.
Senator Kamil Ali Agha presided over the committee meeting which was held to review the functioning and performance of PTV and the Press Information Department (PID). He said that PTV’s Board of Director should only be nominated by parliament. Expressing dislike over the Information Minister’s absence during the meeting, the chairman of the said that the Minister had not appeared in the past three meetings, adding that the committee was empowered to summon the Minster.
Senator Agha said that the PTV was a national institution and necessary measures should be taken for its improvement, with a viable marketing strategy to improve its financial position. He added that PTV should also highlight people’s problems in Balochistan, Fata and tribal areas.
Pointing out PTV’s low coverage in foreign countries, particularly in the Middle East, the committee chairman said that PTV’s transmission was next to nil in Dubai. He directed the Information Ministry to take measure to ensure the channel’s coverage in the Middle East and submit a report to the committee within 15 days. “PTV must hire well-educated young talent to increase its viewership and to regain its lost identity, particularly in the field of entertainment,” Senator Kamil Ali Agha said.
Meanwhile, Managing Director PTV, Yousaf Mirza briefed the meeting about the working of the state-run channel. According to him, PTV’s transmission was being watched in 54 countries, including Europe. PTV, he said, had launched seven channels, including PTV Home, National, Bolan, Sports, News, AJK TV and PTV Global. He said that the PTV’s management was considering several models to overcome its financial problems.
He said that although Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) government had proposed to the PTV to launch a Pashto channel (Abasine) but PTV’s administration had asked the KPK government to utilise PTV resources, instead of launching a new channel. “PTV Home and PTV Sports are already bearing the burden of regional channels and it is not in a position to launch a new regional channel.”
After the emergence of satellite technology, the channel was being operated from one place through 135 boosters while 35 new boosters would be installed to increase the channel’s coverage, PTV’s Managing Director Yousaf Mirza said. For making PTV as a financially viable institution, committee members asked the managing director of PTV to develop a strategy.
The committee also reviewed PID affairs, including its mechanism of distribution of advertisements among national newspapers. The committee directed the PID to submit its reports, including annual audit report, before the committee. Committee members include Senators Dr Saeeda Iqbal, Saeed Ghani, Farhatullah Babar, Shirala Malik, Malik Najmul Hassan, Daud Kahn Achakzai, Pervaiz Rashid, Syed Zafar Ali Shah and Rubina Khalid. Secretary Information and Broadcasting Rashid Ahmed and other government officials also attended the meeting.