Cricket series bid was not viable for state TV
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting was informed on Wednesday that state TV did not bid for the telecast of Pakistan cricket series with South Africa and Sri Lanka because it was not viable.
State TV’s representative Dr Nauman Niaz while defending the state TV’s opting out of the bid said that they had worked out that the upcoming two series might not be viable and there was also an element of uncertainty regarding the Pak-Sri Lanka series.
Similar views were expressed by the director finance of the state-owned entity, who contended they had consulted the concerned departments, which did not see viability in having telecast rights of the two series.
The issue of state TV not bidding for the telecast of upcoming Pakistan-South Africa and Pakistan-Sri Lanka series came under sharp criticism from the members. This was called an act of cartelisation.
The Committee Chairman Senator Kamil Ali Agha said the state TV’s decision not to participate in the bidding process of purchase of telecast rights of the two upcoming cricket series against South Africa and Sri Lanka was apparently mala fide.
On a proposal by Senator Saeed Ghani, the committee chairman decided to summon PCB in next meeting to get its response over the issue and know as to why the PCB had decided to issue bids for only two series. Some senators charged that this was done to facilitate a private TV channel.
Senator Agha believed it appeared that the ad hoc management of the state TV intentionally avoided participating in the bid. In this context, he referred to three state TV officials along with the lawyer, who travelled to Lahore, enjoyed travel perks, but pulled out of the bidding process at the last moment.
He questioned, “If the state TV was not interested in the bidding process, why did the management purchase bid documents and send officials to Lahore”.
Senator Ghani pointed out that the state TV had a lot of resources to fulfil requirements of the bid as compared to a private channel that eventually won the bid. He said that had state TV bought exclusive rights of Pakistan’s series against South Africa and Sri Lanka, maximum revenue would have been generated, and a third party would not have been provided a chance to become a competitor of it in sports broadcast field.
He proposed that the PCB chairman, who was also working with the private channel, should be called in the next meeting as it appeared that bid for two series were a favour to enable the said sports channel to participate in the bidding process.
However, state TV representative Dr Nauman said these rights were in the market and state TV could purchase them in sub-licensing, adding that these were global bids and not Pakistan-specific.
Former MD state TV Yousaf Beg Mirza said that financially state TV may not lose much by not bidding for the said two series but by doing so, it might have made a tactical mistake to allow a private sports channel to recapture its lost viewership.
The committee meeting was attended by senators Farhatullah Babar, Saeed Ghani, Zafar Ali Shah, Saeeda Iqbal, Rubina Khalid and Daud Achakzai.
Besides Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid, Additional Secretary Muhammad Azam and senior officials of the ministry and state TV attended the meeting. Ex-secretary Information Taimur Azmat Osman was also present in the meeting on the invitation of the committee chairman.
Dr Nazir and Acting MD state TV tried to hush up the state TV’s director finance, who was asked by the chairman and some other senators to share what he wanted to. And he revealed that during the tenure of Agha Nadeem as information secretary, a move was made afresh by state TV to buy as many as programmes by the private parties, but he resisted it and saved millions of rupees. These programmes had been already rejected by the concerned department.
The committee was informed that among the four ex-MDs of state TV, on his last 30-month stint, Yousaf Beg Mirza was paid a total of Rs111.163 million package (3.705 million per month) and Dr Shahid Masood Rs5.371 million for his five-month association with state TV (1.074 million per month).
There was consensus among senators that instead of inducting outsiders in state TV on lucrative packages, seniors should be encouraged and paid reasonably.
Secretary Information and Broadcasting Dr Nazir Saeed was severely criticised for not correcting the wrongs that had been committed in promotions and transfers in state TV and pointed out during the previous two meetings.
The committee Chairman Senator Kamil Ali Agha reminded the secretary about the list of seniors who had been ignored while juniors promoted and even given additional charge. He questioned the secretary why no action was taken so far in this connection. Agha alleged that state TV was being run as personal fiefdom.
Dr Nazir promised to present report within a week on issues concerning state TV affairs.The Senate committee also asked for confining Dr Nauman Niaz to his role as an anchor at PTV Sports, calling him a ‘massager’, who survived while many others had been shown the door.
Several members of the committee during its lengthy proceedings expressed astonishment over the ‘unbridled powers’ being exercised by a person, whose post did not exist. The senators called for putting an end to the sorry saga of political interference in state TV and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) affairs.
The committee chairman asked Dr Nauman to leave the committee room prior to taking up the item relating to him that was listed on the agenda as “appointment of Dr Nauman Niaz as head of operations and content, his high-handedness and the procedure adopted for his appointment”.
The committee chairman wondered how did he exercise administrative powers of posting and transfer and deciding who would get how much remuneration. “How a person who gets Rs0.4 million monthly and then is paid Rs25,000 per programme can initiate a file on his own and then send it to the managing director state TV, who readily approves it,” he asked.
The committee chairman waved a brief someone had handed over to his staff during the course of meeting about Dr Nauman and others, who commanded influence in state TV.
He questioned where were the directors, board of directors and controllers and what was their job, as in their presence, an individual was calling the shots and getting his contract renewed repeatedly. One senator asked why the state TV employees did not go to the court against him.
Dr Nazir Saeed, informed the committee that Nauman was appointed by ex-managing director Yousaf Beg Mirza. The secretary was asked by the chairman to scan the orders passed by Nauman and if found illegal, declare them null and void and stop him even from appearing as an anchor on PTV Sports. “Whether or not someone is the son of a general or brigadier, it has nothing to do with us. What we want is that the rules are followed,” asserted the chairman.