Saturday September 23, 2023

Only live coverage on TV channels banned, Senate body told

By Our Correspondent
October 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting was Tuesday informed that there was only ban on live coverage and no TV channel had been asked to ban a particular figure.

Giving a briefing to the committee that met at the Parliament House with Senator Faisal Javed in the chair, Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Saleem Baig contradicted the opposition senators' claim that JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and his other party leaders were getting more coverage on the TV channels than the other opposition leaders.

Baig said they had not asked any TV channel to censor the activities of opposition leaders.

Sharing figures of the coverage patterns of television channels with the committee, Pemra Chairman Saleem Baig claimed that Fazlur Rehman and his party leaders were disproportionately getting more coverage than others.

PTI Senator Faisal Javed chaired the committee meeting here at the Parliament House.

Opposition senators Pervaiz Rashid of PML-N and Maula Bux Chandio of the PPP raised the issue of non-coverage of leaders of opposition parties by television channels and alleged that the interviews and speeches of Asif Ali Zardari, Maryam Nawaz and Fazlur Rehman were being censored.

To this, the Pemra chairman said the channels were giving 46 percent of their time for current affairs to Fazlur Rehman and his party members nowadays and all activities of the JUI-F chief were being aired.

The opposition senators, however, left the meeting early saying they were not satisfied with the replies of the Pemra chairman. The committee chairman directed that Pemra should ensure that cable operators give first four positions in their catalogue to the state-run TV.

He informed the Pemra officials that the owners of FM radio channels were leaving their businesses complaining of heavy licence fee.

A Pemra official informed the committee that the licences of television channels were renewed after 15 years and those of radio channels after 10 years.

Pemra had issued licences to radio channels according to market determined prices and the Frequency Allocation Board, he said.

The official said Parliament had authorised Pemra through law to frame regulations for allotment of licences and on determination of fees. He explained that the FM radio owners had gone to the court on the issue of heavy licence fees.

Senator Anwarul Haq Karar said radio channel licence holders should submit their financial statements.

Faisal Javed said television channels were not giving salaries to their workers and removing them from jobs.

Seconding his views, Karar said the media outlets owners were keeping their workers on daily wages for years and exploiting them.

Managing Director of the state-run TV Aamer Manzoor said that the institution still could not pay off remaining pension dues of Rs1.2 billion to 250 of its retired workers due to serious financial crunch.

Afterwards, the committee chairman held an in-camera session on the affairs of state broadcaster.