Sindh Assembly gets five-year details of ads given to newspapers, magazines
KARACHI: The Sindh government gave advertisements worth hundreds of millions of rupees to 81 newspapers and magazines from April 2008 to November 2013, said Information Minister Nasir Shah.
He was responding to legislators’ questions, at the Sindh Assembly’s Friday session, during the Question Hour that pertained to the information department.
The details given in the written answer show that ads of the largest amount of Rs168 million were given to Kawish (Hyderabad) while another publication, Quwwat, was given advertisements of just Rs5,545.
Publications which received ads worth more than 100 million rupees were Sobh (Rs140m), Ibrat (Rs125m), Awami Awaz (Rs123m), Express (Rs116m) and Dawn (Rs105m).
Other publications which received ads included: Aman (Rs31m), Barsat (Rs31m), Business Recorder (Rs22m), Deyanat (Rs31m), Hilal-i-Pakistan (Rs53m), Jang (Rs62m), Jura’at (Rs21m), Kaleem Sukkur (Rs26m), Mehran Hyderabad (Rs39m), Millan (Rs22m), Nau Sijj (Rs24m), Nijat Sukkur (Rs28m), Pak (Rs29m), Pak Sindh Sukkur (Rs55m), Regional Times (Rs36m), Sukkar Karachi (Rs39m), Tameer-i-Sindh (Rs62m) and Ummat (Rs42m).
Pakistan Muslim League-F legislator Mehtab Rashdi pointed out that ads were sometimes given to dummy newspaper or to those which had low circulation and a former information minister was being tried for the same ‘offence’ in an accountability court.
On that, Mr Shah said the Sindh government gave ads only to those papers which were on the media list and certified by the ABC.
Data provided in the written answer to a question about financial assistance given to various press clubs between 2008 and 2012 shows that the largest amount of Rs20m was given to the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), which was not a press club, in 2012.
Another organisation, Pakistan Japan Cultural Association, which was also not a press club, was given Rs1m in 2008.
The Karachi Press Club received Rs1m in 2008, Rs2.5m in 2010 and Rs3m in 2011.
The Karachi Union of Journalists was given Rs50m in 2012.
Responding to a question by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Khurram Sherzaman about the criteria for deciding the amount for various press clubs, the minister said a number of things were considered before that, like their location etc.
On being asked how those organisations had been given funds which were not press clubs, the minister said such organisations could be accommodated according to law.
When asked if the government had carried out any audit to see if the funds had been spent on the welfare of journalists, the minister said no and added that the government would look into the proposal if they received any complaint.
Regarding financial assistance given to journalists between Jan 2012 and Jan 2014, the minister told Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Rana Ansar that the information department was not given any funds or grants for the purpose.
Responding to a question by MQM’s legislator Qamar Rizvi about issuance of arms licences to journalists, the minister said they had been issued licences keeping in view the law and order situation.
Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza did not allow a supplementary question by Mr Shezaman who wanted to know if the Sindh government was also ready to return the amount to exchequer spent on the publicity of Sindh government following the Supreme Court’s order to the Punjab CM to return Rs5.5m spent on such activities.