The Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage was held on Friday. Chaired by Senator Faisal Javed, the meeting was attended by Senator Khushbakht Shujat, Senator Rubina Khalid, Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo and senior officers from the Ministry of Information and Broadcast along with all concerned.
The meeting commenced with an update on pending payments of Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) pensioners. According to information received from PTV the total amount pending as on 31 August, 2018 was PKR 1419Million for 279 retired employees. The Committee was informed that payment made during the period (50 percent of net commutation) was PKR 35 million to 26 widows and PKR 48 Million to 18 retired employees. Part payment to retired employees was PKR 6 Million.Net amount pending as on 06 September, 2018 is PKR 1330 Million for 279 retired employees.
Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Division informed the Committee that approximately 76 percent of the budget goes into paying salaries, which is the main reason that programming is being adversely affected. He asserted that there is no room for corner cutting.
While responding to a question from Senator Khushbakht Shujat, Secretary PTV revealed that the organization is over staffed. This, he said was because of union pressure.
While considering a point for public importance raised by Senator Abdul Rehman Malik regarding character assassination of PPP leaders on electronic media, the mover asserted that strong parameters must be set so that this trend which is rapidly rising in Pakistan must be curbed. He said that all political personalities regardless of political affiliation are affected by this. He stressed the need for the formulation of a code of conduct so that anyone who violates this is taken to task.
While raising the point of political parties not getting equal coverage on PTV, Senator Khushbakht Shujat was of the view that PTV has improved greatly in this regard. Chairman Committee Senator Faisal Javed said that this Committee took up this matter in the very first meeting and now the situation is satisfactory.
Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media (PEMRA) informed the Committee that there are 127 channels in Pakistan out of which 49 are news channels. He informed the Committee that on the directions of the Supreme Court a code of conduct has already been formulated in 2015. However, he said that editorial rights are with channels. He said that all television channels agreed on this.