Radio Pakistan: Alive and kicking
This refers to a letter by Mr. Iftikhar Mirza in your esteemed daily on March 20, 2012 asserting that some national entities including Radio Pakistan are near shut-down.
Begging to differ so far as Radio Pakistan is concerned, it can only be termed as lack of knowledge that Radio Pakistan has been bracketed with PIA, Pakistan Steel, and Railways which is out of place and unjustified. Radio Pakistan cannot be compared with these departments which are run on purely commercial basis. On the contrary, Radio Pakistan is a public broadcaster and not selling its products like other three national departments referred to in the letter. The mandate of Radio Pakistan is to disseminate information, education, and entertainment, with proper balance in their subject matter and high standard of quality and morality, to people both inside and outside the country, through its home and external services. It was also required to broadcast such programmes as may promote Islamic ideology, national unity, and principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance, and social justice as enunciated by Islam and to discourage parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian, linguistic, and provincial prejudices and reflect the urges and aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Over the years, Radio Pakistan played this role in effective and professional way and even its critics do acknowledge this. Not to speak of supporters, the detractors also demand revival of past glory of Radio Pakistan at a time when the organization faces financial problems.
The letter cited above tried to create an impression that the financial problem is because of the poor management and underutilization of resources. Fact about Radio Pakistan is that it has been receiving major portion of its budget from the federal government, because it has never been a commercial organization, though generating some revenue from advertisements etc. As stated above, the objective of the organization is to render services in and outside the country with missionary spirit rising above return in kind. At present, the organization is broadcasting its programmes in twenty-two local and eleven foreign languages.
Despite financial constraints, the incumbent management of the PBC has been successfully striving to improve its service and expand its coverage. Keeping in view the interests of nation, a dedicated current affairs channel, National Broadcasting Service was launched in 2008. The PBC management also took measures to use the social media to cater the radio audience and its programmes can now be listened to on internet. It introduced state of the art bilingual website to disseminate information. The radio programmes are equally popular among the internet users and it is on record that tens of thousands of people all over the world visited PBC website to enjoy live cricket commentary of Asia Cup Cricket on internet in addition to enjoying every moment of the match on their radio sets. Besides, PBC management is overhauling as well as replacing its transmitters to improve service in collaboration with international organizations. PBC has recently concluded agreement with JICA on installing a powerful 500 kilowatt transmitter at Faqirabad. Transmitters are also being installed in other parts of the country from indigenous resources.
There is no element of poor management so far as the current financial crisis faced by the organization is concerned but it is due to the fact that the required budget is not being provided to the organization. This resulted in accumulation of problems. The budget provided is audited every year and audit made no such observation whether the problems were because of the mismanagement.