Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage in its meeting on Wednesday was told by Chairman PTV told that despite limited resources PTV has experienced a 2.5 times increase in advertising revenue and has had a profit of 300 million profit in the financial year that ended by June 2019.Regarding revamping of PTV the MD PTV told the meeting that having assumed office only two weeks ago, he is formulating a reform mechanism and a detailed briefing will require some time. The Committee gave one month time to come up with a comprehensive plan regarding technological enhancement, human resource issues and content management.
Regarding the status of payments to PTV pensioners, Committee was told that the State enterprise has to pay a total of 2 billion as liability in heads of pensions and commutation. It was told that Board of Directors has approved payment of 700 million and will be distributed in two weeks. This will be an attempt to clear the backlog of 2016, 2017 and then the pending payments of 2018 will be catered to. The Special Assistant told the committee that PTV is under a financial crunch and efforts are being made to bring it out of the situation. Chairman of the PTV Board told the committee that being a state channel PTV has to represent and protect the culture, value system and national interest and this does not generate commercial business. He said that an organisation which is paying 76% of its budget on staff management cannot be expected to go in profit with only 6% of budget spent on content. Chairman Committee Senator Faisal Javed Khan reitreated the commitment to continue taking the matter up till its resolution.
While discussing the matter of public importance raised by Senator Abdur Rehman Malik regarding character assassination of PPP leader on electronic media, the mover observed that fake news is damaging to everyone irrespective of party or any other affiliation, and there should be a plausible and long term solution considering the ethical values of being a media person. He said parameters need to be defined and a proper legislation have to be in place or else some required amendments in PEMRA Act be made. Prime Minister’s special Assistant on Information, Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan observed that the concerns regarding fake news are coming from many sectors. She said that there is a collective understanding to bring forth a responsible role of media without putting any bars on freedom of expression. She agreed that some structural reforms and empowerment is needed in PEMRA but it has to be under a set of guidelines. She said that an exercise on the said issues was conducted by constituting a committee to coordinate with all government sector and private media stakeholders and the Committee may guide the ministry as to how to go about it. The Committee decided to wait till the proposal comes from the ministry by August to subsequently share their recommendations.
The Committee was also given a detailed briefing on working and performance of Lok Virsa and was told that Lok Virsa receives 95.544 million grant in aid by government, 72.864 million go in employee related work while 22.680 million are spent in operating expenses. The Committee appreciated the proposal of having book stalls at airports and railway stations to not only publicise the organisation and its work but also to increase awareness about our culture and heritage. The Committee recommended to have a close work coordination between PTV and Lok Virsa by doing programmes and marathon transmission on special events arranged by Lok Virsa. The proposal of advertising the summer camp and other activities related to kids in government and private schools was also stressed upon. The Committee was told that Lok Virsa is aiming at arranging Lok melas in provincial capitals, doing collaboration with universities on heritage awareness, conducting cultural surveys and research, arranging talent hunt folk festivals and making efforts to revive dying arts and crafts .
Regarding the steps taken by the government to preserve the National Heritage in the country since June 2013 the Committee decided to conclude the matter due to continuing absence of the mover Senator Talha Mehmood.The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Faisal Javed Khan here at the Parliament House on Wednesday and was attended among others by Senators Abdur Rehman Malik, Sajjad Hussain Turi, Muammad Tahir Bizenjo, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, Dr. Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Kamran Micheal, Pervaiz Rasheed.