PTV’s profit termed fake
By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD: The finance department of Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) fudged figures to show an operational loss of Rs 930 million sustained in 2008-2009 as a profit of Rs 70 million, the newly appointed managing director alleged on Thursday.
Yousuf Baig Mirza told reporters during an informal chat at PTV headquarters that a relief of Rs 1 billion provided by the government to bring the PTV out of financial crunch was shown in documents as part of revenues to camouflage the real picture.
Arshad Khan, the predecessor of Yusuf Baig Mirza, however contested the allegation. He said there were accumulated claims against the government since 1989 of around Rs 12 billion, out of which Rs 1.034 billion had been recovered during his second term in office.
“It was neither an aid nor a subsidy. It was not a mistake to show the amount in receipts unless you want to keep it out of the book,” he remarked.
Arshad Khan conceded that PTV’s revenues had gone down by 10 to 15 per cent, but attributed it to the viewers’ waning interest in plays.
The former PTV chief said the growth of private TV channels had eaten into the network’s advertisement revenue.
He said he had joined PTV for the first time in 2004-05 when the organisation was in the red to the tune of Rs 470 million, but the shortfall had turned into a profit of Rs505 million by the time he left.
Mr Arshad said he took over as MD again in Dec 2008 when the loss stood at Rs 316 million, but by June last year the network was running a surplus of Rs119 million.
An overdraft of Rs 443 million was paid back in full and Rs 544 million out of a total of Rs 590 million owed by advertising agencies was realised in less than six months, he claimed.
The PTV had also managed to pay an amount of Rs 700 million owed to suppliers and artists. The profit earned from cricket totalled Rs 340 million, Arshad Khan said.
Yousuf Baig Mirza, the current MD, said a roadmap was being prepared for revival of PTV’s financial health.
It was unfortunate that the network had surrendered before private TV channels in the sphere of marketing, leaving the arena open for them, he observed. This attitude had brought down revenues generated through advertisements during plays and other entertainment programmes, the PTV chief said.
He said the state-run network would have been staring at a greater disaster had the license fee not been raised.