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Event Title: The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting held today at the Parliament Lodges with Senator Faisal Javed in Chair.

Event Date: 2023-02-06

PTV officials gave a detailed briefing to the committee on the issue raised by Senator Fida Muhammad regarding the approval of service structure of PTV news correspondents recruited on contract basis in 2015/16.

MD PTV apprised the committee that news correspondents were recruited on contract basis while there were no approved permanent positions available in PTV News. The matter was referred to the HR committee of PTV, recommendations of which were presented in the PTV board meeting held four days ago. Decision has been taken by the board to regularize the services of these news correspondents and they will be regularized soon after the minutes of the meeting are compiled. The Chairman Committee instructed to keep the Committee and Senator Fida Muhammad informed about all the details in this regard. Issue of delay in payment of pension to the employees of Radio Pakistan was discussed in detail in the committee. DG Radio Pakistan told the committee that Radio Pakistan needs about six and a half billion rupees annually for expenses and currently it is getting four and a half billion rupees. Due to the shortfall of two billion rupees, the institution is facing difficulties in paying the pension and medical bills of the employees. The chairman of the committee said that the pension payment of poor retired employees should be the first priority of the organization and the matter should be taken up with finance ministry. DG Radio Pakistan said that by privatizing the land and buildings in various cities owned by Radio Pakistan, substantial money can be obtained which will enable payment of all these expenses. He further informed that the work in this regard is going on.  Senator Irfan Siddiqui inquired whether the organization has hired any consultant or firm to privatize the assets of Radio Pakistan or the organization is doing all this work itself.  Senator Syed Waqar Mehdi asked about the buildings of Radio Pakistan in Karachi.  He said that the tower of Radio Pakistan in Karachi has been rented out to other organizations for very little money and one building is being used by Pakistan Rangers. Secretary Information informed the committee that letters have been written to the concerned institutions to hand over the building used by the Rangers. The Chairman Committee established a sub-committee under the chairmanship of Senator Irfan Siddiqui to streamline the issues of Radio Pakistan.

The Chairman Committee expressed serious reservations over the continued absence of the Minister for Information and Broadcasting in the committee meetings. The chairman of the committee said that the representatives of the relevant journalistic and media organizations/bodies will be invited to the committee meeting to look into the problems faced by the journalists and after hearing the views of all the stakeholders, a plan of action will be formulated to deal with the threats to the well-being of the journalists and the freedom of expression.

The bill to amend the Right to Information Act presented by Senator Walid Iqbal and other senators was considered. After a detailed discussion on the bill, it was agreed to refer the matter to the Law Department for further clarification. Senators, Fawzia Arshad, Syed Waqar Mehdi, Anwar Lal Din, Irfan Siddiqui, Umar Farooq, Fida Muhammad, Walid Iqbal, MD PTV, Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and PEMRA officials attended the committee meeting.