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Monday July 22, 2024

Senate body discusses media issues, utilisation of Radio Pakistan land

By Sabah
September 07, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting met here on Wednesday with Senator Fawzia Arshad in the chair to address a range of vital issues concerning the country’s media landscape.

During the meeting, Senator Syed Waqar Mehdi presented the report of the Senate subcommittee, specially constituted to investigate utilisation of land and assets of Radio Pakistan and its privatisation. The report, prepared by the standing committee, encompasses comprehensive recommendations and government responses on the matter.

During the meeting, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) director general (DG) provided a compliance report, shedding light on the matter of pension and commutation for retired PBC employees. The committee was informed that pension for the months of April, May, June and July had been disbursed, but a substantial sum of Rs1.25 billion for commutation remains pending. The 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 State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) are under way and rates are yet to be finalised. 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 emphasised that it 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 Rs9.6 billion was spent during this period.

Senator Fawzia Arshad sought a breakdown of the ads, allocated to different channels and mediums including ad rates and distribution mechanism. She emphasised that advertising should be distributed impartially without discrimination. Caretaker Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi pledged fair distribution of ads 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 the ISA was 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 hired facilitators from top notch private and public organisations including serving and retired officials, who were qualified and experienced enough.

The meeting was also attended by senators Anwar Lal Deen and Tahir Bizenjo. Secretary Information and Broadcasting, DG Radio and other stakeholders were also present. —Sabah