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Event Title: Senator Fawzia Arshad Convenes Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting.

Event Date: 2023-09-06

The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, chaired by Senator Fawzia Arshad, convened a meeting to address a range of vital issues concerning the nation's media landscape.

During the meeting, Senator Syed Waqar Mehdi presented the report of the Senate Sub-committee, specially constituted to investigate the utilization of Land and Assets of Radio Pakistan and its privatization. The report, adopted by the Standing Committee, encompasses comprehensive recommendations and government responses on the matter.

During the meeting, DG PBC (Pakistan Broadcaster Association) provided a compliance report, shedding light on the matter of pension and commutation for retired PBC employees. The Committee was informed that pensions for the months of April, May, June, and July have been disbursed, but a substantial sum of Rs 1.25 billion for commutation remains pending.

DG Radio and Secretary Information and Broadcasting briefed the Committee on the ongoing discussions regarding leasing Radio Pakistan's land across the country. Talks with the SBP are underway, and rates are yet to be finalized. The Committee stressed the importance of sharing the terms and conditions of the forthcoming agreement, location details of the land to be leased, and rates in an upcoming meeting. It was emphasized that this would be a Government-to-Government agreement. The officials also outlined various avenues they are exploring to meet Radio Pakistan's financial requirements.

The Committee was presented with detailed insights into the federal government's advertising expenditures, covering electronic, print, digital, and outdoor spending from March 1, 2022, to August 31, 2023. The Ministry disclosed that a total of Rs. 9.6 Billion was spent during this period. The Chairperson, Senator Fawzia Arshad, requested a thorough breakdown of the ads allocated to different channels and mediums, including ad rates and the distribution mechanism. She emphasized that advertising should be distributed impartially, without discrimination. Caretaker federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murtaza Solangi, echoed this sentiment, pledging to ensure fair distribution during his tenure.

A comprehensive briefing was presented to the Committee on the operations, functions, and performance of the Information Services Academy (ISA) in Islamabad. Officials highlighted that ISA is the sole public entity offering training to both public entities and private media professionals across various beats, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and studios. It was told that the Academy hire facilitators from top notch private and public organisations, including serving and retired officials who are qualified and experienced enough.

The meeting was attended by notable Senators, including Syed Waqar Mehdi, Anwar Lal Dean, and Tahir Bizenjo. Caretaker federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murtaza Solangi, Secretary Information and Broadcasting, DG Radio, and other stakeholders were also present.