NA committee stops state-run TV MD from working
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Tuesday expressed its displeasure over the absence of managing director of the state-run Pakistan Television from its meeting.
The committee met here under the chairmanship of MNA Mian Javed Latif here at Committee Room of Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) Headquarters. At the very outset, the panel expressed its grave concern and displeasure over the ‘willful absence’ of the state-run TV MD.
It was informed that Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and the secretary information were also unaware about the absence of the MD. MNAs Marriyum Aurangzeb, Nadeem Abbas and Javeria Zafar were critical of his absence.
They questioned could a board member be managing director and under what law Arshad Khan was made acting managing director of the state-turn television. They also insisted that if he was to be absent from the meeting, he would have informed the committee. Javeria Zafar wondered that she was unable to understand why the MD reported to Principal Secretary Azam Khan.
The committee chairman wanted to know was the MD appointed as per the Supreme Court judgement.
The agenda item regarding the comprehensive briefing on the function and performance of the state-run TV had to be deferred till next meeting. The committee recommended the series steps/ actions shall be taken by the minister as well as the secretary against the MD.
(According to APP, the panel unanimously decided that till the next meeting of the committee, the MD neither should be allowed to sit in his office, nor allow to use the powers as MD.
The committee said he should come in person in the next meeting and clear his position.
The committee, in this regard, issued directives to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and directed to ensure their implementation in letter and spirit.
Giving its observation regarding MD’s absence from his duty since last 38 days, the committee said he should be accountable for the said period salary as it was the tax payers money and could not be doled out to anyone.
The committee also observed that during Pak-India tension, the national broadcaster could not fulfill its responsibilities accordingly due to his absence from the duty.
The committee also said the appointment of acting MD was also against the law and Supreme Court directives in Ataul Haq Qasmi case.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain told the panel that since last 38 days, the MD did not come to his office and even today he could not attend the committee meeting adding no institution could be run in this manner.
He said the post of regular MD had been advertised and in this regard, 42 applications had been received and the acting MD had not applied for the position.
He said presently the Board was not functional as it had no chairman.
He said the state-run TV was suffering from Rs5.8 billion loss per year but the MD got his salary package worth Rs2.5 million from the Board of Directors whereas the corporation had no money to salaries and pension of the employees on time.)
The minister made it clear that being the elected representatives of masses, they would never go for ban on union activities. He pointed out that the MD declined when asked for sharing the PTV performance details and the business plan. To this, Marriyum contended that if it was so, then they should invite the principal secretary for briefing.
Speaking about the media industry, the minister said that digital advertising was making headway and as per the statistics, the digital advertising posted revenue of Rs7 billion last year and it was being anticipated that by this year end, revenue could reach Rs12 billion.
Fawad maintained that there was also a need to bring digital advertising within an ambit, otherwise, billions of dollars would be taken away abroad. He emphasised media freedom was imperative and one of the major reasons of Pakistan’s goodwill abroad was the media factor.
However, he contended that it was also important that the consumers would not be shared concocted news but there should be no such laws, which undermined the media freedom.
Speaking on the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority, the minister said the concept of ‘The Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority’ had been discussed and share with all stakeholder including parliamentary parties, media house owners, media workers and organisations.
He also informed the forum that the new legislation would be very useful for all stakeholders and it would generate and regulate the huge amount of revenue in the shape of tax etc. He emphasised the composition of regulatory body must be independent and the legislation would provide Media Judicial Tribunal for the relief against the grievance of all stakeholders.