PBC proposes levy of electronic cess to cover losses
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation has proposed electronic cess on purchase of mobile phones costing over Rs35,000 and registration of vehicles to cover the Rs4 billion annual deficit of Radio Pakistan.
PBC Director General Imran Gardezi told the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday that the proposal to levy Rs4,000 on registration of a vehicle was under consideration of the federal government.
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He said the proposal was part of a business plan chalked out by Radio Pakistan in 2012-13 on the advice of the PAC.
Mr Gardezi said that Radio Pakistan would submit a comprehensive business strategy to the committee in a couple of months.
According to an audit report, the income of Radio Pakistan generated by advertisements has decreased from Rs163 million in 2007-08 to Rs132m in 2008-09, forcing the government to increase its subsidy from Rs1.5 billion to Rs1.7bn.
The PBC chief said that although Radio Pakistan had generated Rs334m in 2013-14, its expenses had also been continuously increasing with the result that government had to provide it with Rs3.7bn in subsidy that year. He said the PBC paid Rs1bn annually as pension to its retired employees.
He said that because of loadshedding the PBC had to bear an additional expenditure as it depended on diesel generators to maintain its transmission.
The PAC asked the PBC chief to submit the business strategy while safeguarding the interests of listeners and consumers.
Mehmood Khan Achakzai asked Mr Gardezi “why it happens only in Pakistan that people don’t prefer state-run radio while in other parts of the world the listener-ship of state broadcaster is higher than that of private radios”.
Another PAC member Junaid Anwar Chaudhry advised Radio Pakistan to put its marketing team right instead of levying taxes on people.
PTV Managing Director Mohammad Malick told the committee that unless the state-run media came out of the government control and adopted an independent editorial policy, there would be no change in their state of affairs.
After the meeting, a PBC official said the proposed business plan would not help cover losses of billions of rupees. The PBC might request the ministry of information and broadcasting to allow it to have a share in the TV licence fee, he added.
“Radio Pakistan may come out of the crisis if the PBC is given Rs5 out of Rs35 TV licence fee.”