PTV advertisers shying away
By: Malik Asad
ISLAMABAD: The internal conflict and infighting for the top slot of Pakistan Television (PTV) has created an uncertainty among major advertisers resulting in a sharp decline of its revenue.
Besides, advertisers are also pulling back from their commitments made to the PTV during the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy series starting from June 6 in England.
According to a PTV official, the state-run network could achieve only 40 per cent of the target it had set to earn from the ICC champions trophy by airing advertisements. The champions trophy, consisting of 15 matches, will conclude on Jun 23.
According to a letter of June 2 sent to the senior management of the PTV by its marketing head, Kamran Wajih, due to the uncertain situation the organisation was “experiencing major disengagement and scepticism on procuring business and realising commitments on the projected numbers for the upcoming promising champions trophy series.”
The letter added: “clients, independent buying houses, major advertisers are all (mostly) pulling back on this series from PTV on accounts of the uncertainties.”
Though the letter did not mention any reason for the uncertainties, a senior officer in the marketing department of the PTV said the conflict between the acting managing director and the secretary information, who is also the chairman of the PTV by virtue of his post, and the legal battle between two former managing directors for regaining the control of the TV had demoralised the technical and supporting staff. And the advertisers were also reluctant to spend a huge amount in the PTV in such a situation.
After the removal of Yousaf Baig Mirza from the PTV on April 12 on the directives of Islamabad High Court (IHC), the fight to get the lucrative post also started.
Besides Mr Baig, another former MD Ashraf Azeem, Qazi Mustafa Kamal and PTV chairman (secretary information) filed at least five petitions with the IHC to take control of the organisation.
Before passing the order for the acting MD till the appointment of a regular one, the court asked Qazi Mustafa Kamal to run the day-to-day affairs of the organisation after a PTV representative informed the judge that Mr Qazi was the senior-most employee.
Baig and Azeem both filed intra-court appeals with the IHC and requested to set aside the order.
While a division bench, comprising IHC Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi and Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi, was hearing both the petitions, the secretary information and broadcasting on May 31 removed the acting MD. In the notification of May 31, the secretary also directed the PTV directors to directly report to the ministry instead of the MD.
The ministry of information and broadcasting also filed an intra-court appeal with the IHC against the appointment of Qazi Mustafa Kamal as the acting MD, saying he was not the senior-most employee of the PTV as there were at least three officials more senior to him. In the appeal, the information ministry also informed the court that Mr Qazi, contrary to the IHC order, was taking administrative decisions.
The division bench after initial hearing sought the detail of seniority from the PTV and also directed them to provide the relevant record.
Meanwhile, Mr Qazi also filed a contempt of court petition with the IHC, stating that the secretary information, Agha Nadeem, in violation of IHC Justice Siddiqui’s orders had removed him from his post. He also alleged that the secretary information wanted to purchase bogus dramas on exorbitant rates and he resisted the move.
Secretary information Agha Nadeem, when contacted, said he had nothing to do with the sale or purchase of dramas as it was the prerogative of the MD PTV.
He said Mr Qazi, a former director technical of the state run TV, was responsible for the decline in the PTV advertisements as he was inefficient and did not even have the know-how of the administration and marketing.
When contacted, Mr Qazi said he was not feeling well and could not respond to any question. His lawyer Waqas Malik, however, said the secretary information was pressuring his client to sign the deal for the purchase of bogus dramas.
He said certain quarters, jealous with the promotion of Mr Qazi, were spreading disinformation against him.