The Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage was held on Monday. Chaired by Senator Faisal Javed, the meeting was attended by Anwar ul Haq Kakar, Caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcast Ali Zafar, Secretary Information and Broadcast, Sardar Ali Nawaz Sukhera, Director General Radio Pakistan, Shafqat Jaleel and other senior officers from the Ministry of Information and Broadcast.
The meeting commenced with the implementation status of various decisions taken in the previous meeting. Secretary Information and Broadcast, Sardar Ali Nawaz briefed the Committee about the status of funds paid to pensioners. He revealed that PKR 377 million had already been paid to 90 pensioners; however payment of 273 pensioners that required PKR 1.352 billion were pending due to lack of funds. He further revealed that medical reimbursements as well as salaries to anchors have been paid out.
Secretary information and broadcast further revealed that lack of funds is adversely affecting programming, since generating new content was difficult due to budget constraints.
Chairman Committee, Senator Faisal Javed stated that billions of rupees were spent on the projection of former PM and his daughter after the Panama case. He stressed the need of recovering all those expenses from the said, so that this amount could be spent on the promotion of the Institution.
Senator Anwar ul Haq Kakar was of the view that more than financial constraints, intellectual bankruptcy was the main cause of the organization not moving ahead. He asserted that in the past 20 years Pakistan Television (PTV) had seen a downward trend, this was because PTV has always been the mouth piece of the government. He further stated that there was a time when Pakistan Television would compete with films that were aired across the border. This he lamented was not the case anymore. PTV is the only organization that is being sustained through public subsidy; however, it is a shame that not even a minimum of two documentaries on the war on terror have been aired. He stressed that a huge disconnect with the outside world was the main issue.
While seconding the views of Senator Kakar Chairman Committee Senator Javed recommended that in order to increase viewership it was imperative that a survey be conducted to ascertain what the public wished to watch. He further added that since this is national television PTV must generate a debate on issues of public importance such water and power, etc. He stressed the need of evaluating the work of different governments through this platform.
He further stressed the need for neutrality and said that being a national platform PTV should grant equal representation to all political parties of Pakistan.
Caretaker Minister for Broadcast and Information assured the Committee that in order to improve the performance of the organization the recommendation of the Committee will be implemented completely in letter and spirit.
While discussing issues related Pakistan Broadcast Corporation, Senator Kakar was of the view that radio was a huge medium in the west and Pakistan Broadcast Corporation should capture the market by targeting Pakistani Diaspora abroad.
Director General Radio while briefing the Committee stated that the organization lacked funds severely. Shortage of latest equipment was another reason for a backward trend as it affected transmission adversely, especially in areas such as Balochistan where transmission lines were at least half a century old. He added that a new Radio Station was being established in Fort Munro that would improve transmission in Balochistan.
Chairman Committee, Senator Javed directed that Radio Pakistan take measures to commence FM Radio Service to all parts of the country. He further urged Radio Pakistan to work alongside PTV, so that programs could be promoted on both forums.