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Event Title: Senate Standing on Information and Broadcasting Chaired by Senator Faisal Javed

Event Date: 2021-11-29

Islamabad, 29 Nov 2021: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Monday was informed that the PML-N government had given advertisements worth  appx Rs.9 billion to electronic media from 2013 to 2017 while the sitting government had released funds of  Appx Rs.143 crore from 2018-to-date for advertisements to electronic media. The Chairman Committee sought details of spending on government advertisements from 2008-2013 in the next meeting.

The Chairman Committee disposed of deliberation on the bill titled, “The  Right of Access to Information (Amendment) Bill 2020”, moved by Senator Walid Iqbal and Senator Manzoor Ahmad Kakar. The Chairman committee said that due to the absence of the movers for the third consecutive time the consideration on the amendment bill is hereby disposed of.

The standing committee on Information and Broadcasting, which met here at the Parliament House on Monday received a comprehensive briefing on the amount spent on ad campaigns by the Federal Government For the periods of 2008-2013, 2013-2018 and 2018 to date, both in print and electronic media.

During the period 2013-2017, the highest amount of Rs. 62 crore had been released to Geo TV. Dunya TV ran Government advertisements worth  Rs. 56 Crore from Government advertisement from 2013-2017 according to the details submitted to the Standing Committee. Express TV was Third on the list and earned Rs. 50 Crore from Government Advertisements. It was followed by Abbtak with  Rs. 45 Crore. It was further submitted that the Federal Government during the period 2013-2017 released Rs. 40 Crore to Capital TV, Rs. 21 Crore to PTV, Rs. 26 Crore to Dawn TV, Rs. 19 Crore to Aaj TV, Rs. 18 Crore to Samaa TV, Rs. 8 Crore to ARY News.

The Committee was apprised that from 2018- to-date  appx Rs. 143 Crores had been pumped in for advertisements to different TV channels. It was submitted that Rs. 13 Crore had been released to Geo TV, Rs. 14 Crore to Dunya TV, Rs. 13 Crore to Express TV, Rs. 5 Crore to Abbtak TV, Rs. 4 Crore to
Capital TV, Rs. 9 Crore and 62 lacs to Dawn TV, Rs. 11 Crore and 25 lacs to PTV, Rs. 11 Crore and 20 Lacs to Aaj TV, Rs. 12 Crore to Samaa TV, Rs. 11 Crore to News1, Rs. 11 Crore to 92 News, Rs. 5 Crore to ATV, Rs. 3 Crore to Neo TV, and Rs. 15 Crore were released to Ary News during the said period.

The Chairman Committee lamented as to why no Government advertisements had been given to the entertainment Channels. He was of the view that entertainment channels had more viewership than news channels. The Chairman committee observed that advertisements had been given to the channels for the purpose to control the narrative of the government. To a question asked by the chairman committee, the official of the ministry informed that ads to media outlets had been released on the assessment of distribution and viewership mechanism. The Chairman committee said that justice should be met while shelling out the money to media outlets. The Chairman Committee also sought details of advertisement rates fixed for Radio in the next meeting. The Chairman Committee aspired detail regarding mechanism followed for the distribution of ads. He also asked for a briefing in the next meeting of the committee as to why entertainment channels had not been given government advertisements. The Channels that had large viewership and still not getting advertisements is a big question mark itself and a matter of great concern, Faisal Javed underlined.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Farrukh Habib underscored that the PTV has turned into a profitable entity in the PTI Government. PTV now has an accumulative profit of Appx Rs. 1 billion, he said.

The Committee was also briefed on overall  PTV Sports Programming. The Management of PTV Sports apprised that the viewership of PTV Sports was in an upswing as compared to other sports channels. The Management informed that From Sep 2019 until March 2021 up to USD 12.5 Million have been cleared. The Estimated income of PTV Sports for 2021-2022 is up to Rs. 1.8 billion, senate body informed. The officials maintained that PTV Sports would be converted to UHD before the start of the PSL 7 edition (January 2022). The Chairman Committee while addressing the officials of PTV Sports said that focus should also be paid to the content along with improving the Screen Quality.

On the matter of altercation between PTV sports host Nouman Niaz and former fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar the Officials from the ministry said that the matter had been sorted out by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Choudary and an inquiry was still underway. The Chairman Committee also sought a detailed report on the matter to be presented before the committee once the inquiry is completed. The Chairman Committee regretted the incident. He called Shoaib Akhtar a legend. It is not only about our heroes , it is about our prestige and dignity, he asserted.

Senator Moula Bux Chandio, Senator Lal dean, Senator Irfan ul Haque Siddiqui, Senator Naseema Ehsan, Senator Umer Farooq attended the meeting. Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Farrukh Habib, Officials from PTVC and PTV Sports also participated in the meeting.