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Event Title: Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage

Event Date: 2018-10-18

Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage in its meeting on Thursday was given an update on pending payments of pensions to retired employees of PTV. It was told that from a total of 3108 pensioners, 279 are pending and all remaining pensioners have been paid. An amount of 1.330 billion Rupees is outstanding to these pensioners. Upon asking, Chairman Committee was briefed that Rs. 468 million have been released pertaining to Pension Commutation dues till date ever since the committee took up the matter earlier this year.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Faisal Javed Khan here at the Parliament House on Thursday and was attended among others by Senators Rehman Malik, Rubina Khalid, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, Khushbakht Shujaat, Pervaiz Rasheed, Barrister Muhammad Saif, Usman Khan Kakar, Sajjad Turi, Minister for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Fawad Chaudhry, Secretary Information, Broadcasting, Chairman PEMRA, Chairman PTV Board and other officials from the ministry, PEMRA and PTV. The Committee held a detailed discussion as to the reasons of pendency in pensioners’ payment and was told that the primary cause of this pendency has been disturbed cash flows resulting from decreased revenue and heavy receivables. The Committee was told by the new Chairman of PTV Board that 72% of PTV’s income goes into staff payment and reforms are needed for making the state enterprise a vibrant and viable institution again.

The Committee was told by the Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage that the government is working on a proposal of merging the media regulatory setup of the country and bring one body by the name Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority which will bring about one window operation regarding complaints and other regulatory aspects of the media landscape of Pakistan. This will merge all the existing rules and acts relevant to PEMRA, PCP and PTA and will be presented to the political parties and Parliamentary Committees to seek input by all stakeholders. The Chairman Committee asked the ministry to share the plan with the committee for its feedback. He also stressed upon the need of bringing this matter to the house for debate.

The Committee discussed at length three matters of public importance referred by the House regarding derogatory remarks by an analyst about Pashtuns on a private TV channel, insult of Pashtuns in a government advertisement and character assassination of political leaders. The Committee was told that a thorough inquiry was conducted and suspensions were made as a consequence of irresponsible behaviour in running the derogatory advertisement. Secretary Information, Broadcasting told the meeting that a content committee has also been formed which will now look into content of every advertisement before it is aired. However, Chairman Committee Senator Faisal Javed observed that in presence of the regulatory authority PEMRA and PTV’s internal censor board to have a check on television commercials there is no need of another committee to review content. The committee members endorsed the view of Chairman Committee that there should not be duplication of work. Regarding the matter of derogatory remarks by an analyst in a TV show, Chairman PEMRA told the Committee that the matter was taken up by PEMRA, warnings were issued to the channel and the matter is now with the Council of Complaints. The matter of character assassination of political leaders will be further taken up when the Committee receives draft on new regulatory framework which will include this aspect of defamation on media platforms.