Senators chew PTV out for poor performance, delay in payment of pensions

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–Information secretary reveals pensions worth Rs1.352bn pending due to lack of funds

–State-run channel should grant equal representation to all political parties, standing committee points out

 

ISLAMABAD: Senators on Monday chewed Pakistan Television (PTV) out for poor performance and the lack of payments worth Rs 1.325 billion to pensioners.

During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage, Information and Broadcast Secretary Sardar Ali Nawaz briefed the committee about the status of funds paid to pensioners.

He revealed that Rs 377 million had already been paid to 90 pensioners, however, the payment of 273 pensioners that required Rs 1.352 billion was pending due to the lack of funds. He further revealed that the medical reimbursements, as well as salaries to the anchors, had been paid out.

BUDGET CONSTRAINTS, LOW QUALITY:

Secretary information further revealed that the lack of funds was adversely affecting the programming, since generating new content was difficult due to these budget constraints.

Senator and committee chairman Faisal Javed stated that billions of rupees were spent on the projection of former PM and his daughter after the Panama case. He stressed the need for recovering all those expenses from the said so that this amount could be spent on the promotion of the institution.

Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar was of the view that more than financial constraints, intellectual bankruptcy was the main cause of that the organisation was not moving forward. He asserted that in the past 20 years, PTV had seen a downward trend because it has always acted as a mouthpiece of the government.

He further stated that there was a time when the PTV could compete with films that aired across the border. “PTV is the only organisation that is being sustained through public subsidy, however, it is a shame that not even a minimum of two documentaries on the war on terror have been aired,” he commented, stressing that a huge disconnect with the outside world was the main issue.

While seconding the views of Senator Kakar, Senator Javed recommended that in order to increase the viewership, it was imperative that a survey be conducted to ascertain what the public wished to watch. He further added that the state-run channel must generate a debate on issues of public importance such as water and power. He stressed the need of evaluating the work of different governments through this platform.

NEED FOR NEUTRALITY:

He further stressed the need for neutrality and suggested PTV’s platform should grant equal representation to all political parties of the country.

Caretaker Minister for Broadcast and Information Syed Ali Zafar assured the committee that in order to improve the performance of the organisation, the recommendation will be implemented in both letter and spirit.

While discussing the issues related to Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), Senator Kakar asserted that radio is still considered as a powerful medium in the West, suggesting that the PBC should capture the market by targeting Pakistani diaspora.

The Senate standing committee meeting was chaired by Senator Javed with Anwar ul Haq Kakar, Caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcast Ali Zafar, Information and Broadcast Secretary Sardar Ali Nawaz Sukhera, Radio Pakistan Director General Shafqat Jaleel and other senior officers from the Ministry of Information and Broadcast in attendance.