PTV News changes policy – at least for now -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PTV News changes policy – at least for now

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: Soon after the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister for hiding his assets in his nomination papers, a visible change was seen in the policy of the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV).

Ahead of the grand verdict in the Panamagate case, the PTV News was projecting the ruling party. But just hours after the verdict came out, viewers were shocked to see the ruling party’s arch rival, PTI chief Imran Khan, announcing his party’s victory live on PTV News and calling the former PM and senior government officials ‘traitors’.

Reacting to this sudden change in policy, senior PTI leader Shireen Mazari tweeted, “Apparently PTV covered IK press conf live yesterday! Signs of changing times or a one-off? Will have to wait and see!”

For the past few years, there has been an ongoing debate as to why the PTV, which is solely run on taxpayers’ money, should only present the government’s views. Earlier, several attempts had been made by the opposition to allow the PTV News cover the opposition parties but in vain.

Last year in April, the PTI chief wrote a letter to the secretary information, who is also the MD PTV, asking for his approval to allow the PTV to give live coverage to his address to the nation to discuss the ‘disinformation’ regarding the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.

His request, however, was turned down by former information minister Pervaiz Rashid who said: “We cannot permit Imran Khan to speak live without directive from the National Assembly’s speaker.”

Later, Leader of Opposition Khursheed Shah also lodged a formal complaint over the PTV’s biased and selective coverage of the National Assembly sessions.

An official said the PTV News gave live coverage to the Imran’s presser after getting a formal approval from a senior official of the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage.

The official privy to this development said, “It all happened because the slots of actual decision-makers – like those of state minister for information and head of the PTV – are currently vacant.”

Sharing further details, he said it had happened after four years that the PTV News had given live coverage to the press conference by an opposition party, adding that earlier the PTV had always turned down such requests from opposition parties.

“After the PTI’s 2014 marathon sit-in in Islamabad, the PTV was barred from giving coverage to the opposition parties but soon after the PM was disqualified by the top court, the PTI chief’s presser was telecast live on the PTV, which obviously surprised people and stirred a new controversy,” he said.

He said usually when the slots of PM and information minister are empty, the PTV News covers all opposition parties, adding that one could see PTV News doing all  this also before the 2018 general elections.

“However, the PTV News resumes its routine transmission of projecting the ruling party as soon as new government takes over,” he said.

Express Tribune