Meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Faisal Javed, here at the Parliament House, on Monday.
Compliance report on the recommendations made by the committee in its previous meeting held on 8th July, 2021 in PTV head quarter, Islamabad and that of last three years 2018-21 were considered in detail.
The Chair commenced the meeting with welcoming remarks and introduction of the participants of the committee.
At the outset of the meeting the chair and the committee members showed their displeasure on providing the working papers at the 11th hour. The chairman committee inquired from the officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting about the delay in the providing of the working papers. The officials of the Ministry failed to give a definite answer on the delay in providing of the working papers to the committee members. The chaired emphasized that delay in providing of the working papers has been become a routine matter at the part of the Ministry. “It is high time that this issue should be resolved” he added. The committee members endorsed the chair’s recommendation and added that such an inefficient working results in the wastage of time and energy of the committee members. The chairman committee gave directions to ensure timely dispatch of the working papers next time otherwise serious action will be taken against the responsible.
A detailed discussion on the recommendation of Committee held on 08-07-2021 took place. The officials of the Ministry briefed the committee on the details of Land and Buildings under the administration of PTV. The chairman committee emphasized to brief the committee regarding the utilization plan of the usage of such a vast public property. The chairman committee observed that such buildings run through the money of the tax payer and it is our moral duty to monitor the accurate utilization of such buildings in the National interest of the country. The chairman committee stressed to justify the land requisition in order to save the tax payer money from exploitation, failed to do so the chairman committee gave suggestion that an office in blue area should be rented/ purchased which will be ample to run the affairs of the PTV and the existing property can be benefited in any other public interest such as for the utilization of state of the art university.
The officials of the Ministry informed the Committee that the government is working on an Assets Management Authority, through which the usage of national assets will be evaluated. The cabinet has also approved this initiative. The chairman committee sought report on a definite plan on the utilization of the buildings of PTV and Radio for further deliberation and recommendations.
A detailed discussion on appointment details of PTVC employees took place. Senator Irfan Siddiqui raised the question of overstaffing in the PTVC. Senator Siddiqui dismayed on the concealed names of the employees in the report submitted. The officials of the Ministry ensured to submit an updated report on the employee’s recruitment. Senator Irfan Siddiqui raised the question as to why 14 new producers have been appointed when already 81 producers were employed in the PTV. The officials of the Ministry failed to justify the over hiring of the employees. The official of the Ministry informed the committee that unlike the practice in the private sector, 50% of PTV staff is clerical which is against the general practice and in which only 3% staff in the transmission department is clerical. The official of the Ministry apprised the committee that a restructuring of the HR by an international company is soon to take place which will improve the issue of overstaffing in PTV.
The chairman committee inquired about the new board of the PTVC, replying to which the Ministry informed that a 7 members new board has been constituted, with no private member in the board.The chairman committee raised the question as to what does the law say on the composition of the board without members from the private sectors. The ministry replied that 1/3 members from the private sectors is required to complete the board however appointment of 7 members of the board makes it operational.
A detail discussion on the senate recommendations of airing senate proceedings live on PTV Parliament was considered. The chairman committee raised the question on the telecasting of the Senate Session in case of simultaneous sessions of both Houses take place. The ministry informed that in case of simultaneous sessions proceeding of the National Assembly is aired live, while senate session goes on air live on YouTube PTV Parliament channel. The chairman committee inquired about the quality of the proceeding telecasted on the YouTube channel and whether or not the quality is fine enough to be picked by any private channel for airing. The chairman committee took demonstration by the ministry on the proceedings of the senate on YouTube to evaluate its quality. The chairman committee advised to revise the SOPs for airing of simultaneous proceedings. The officials of the PTV informed the committee that a PC-1 for an exclusive new channel for the Parliament coverage has been approved on a budget of one billion plus. The officials of the ministry informed the committee that the launching of the HD PTV is soon to take place. Senator Faisal Javed commented that the committee should also be invited on the inauguration of HD PTV as the committee has played a proactive role in making HD project possible.
The chairman committee emphasized that the content of drama industry airing now a days is resulting in causing depression among the youth. The chairman committee said that such drama content is becoming the cause of mental illness and obsession in the youth resulting and in turn an increase in domestic violence and intolerance in the society. The chairman committee along with the committee members held the ministry of information and broadcasting along with PEMRA responsible for the content of entertaining channels to be monitored thoroughly, in order to spread positivity and inspiration for the youth.
A detail discussion on the role of PTV to air various public service messages also took place. Senator Irfan Siddiqui emphasized on producing interactive communicative messages to catch the attentions of the viewers. The chairman committee directed the transmission of public service messages during the prime time and also emphasized on the transmission of public service message regarding child abuse.
The chairman committee directed the information ministry to take on board the senate standing committee while making policies on advertisement and film. The ministry informed the committee that the advertising and film policies are approved by the cabinet. The chairman committee directed the ministry to provide the draft copies of the mentioned policies.
The meeting was attended by Senators Syed Ali Zafar, Muhammad Tahir Bizinjo, Aon Abbas, Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar, Senator Umer Farooq and Irfan UlHaque Siddique. The Officials from Ministry of Information And Broadcasting, PTV, PEMRA and all the attached departments were also in attendance.