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October 22, 2020

Airing Indian content: Senate panel seeks report by Nov 10

National

October 22, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting Wednesday directed presentation of a report by November 10 regarding an Indian sports channel telecasts being shown in Pakistan.

A meeting of the committee was held here at the Parliament House under the chairmanship of Senator Faisal Javed.

In the meeting of the Standing Committee, the issue of public importance raised in the Senate session on September 18, 2020 by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed regarding an Indian sports channel. In addition to broadcasting despite the ban on the sports channel in Pakistan, the implementation of the recommendations made at the committee meeting to be held on September 7, 2020 was reviewed in detail.

Senator Mushahid said that state-run TV earns huge revenue from state-run sports channel but a sports channel of India was working with other companies and its broadcasts were being shown in Pakistan on which Pemra officials informed the committee that there was a procedure regarding landing rights and security clearance was obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs when licences are issued.

They said this matter would also be investigated and a report be submitted to the standing committee within a month. On which the chairman of the committee said that it is better to provide the inquiry report to the committee by November 10.

Regarding showing of wrong map, raised as the issue of public importance by Senator Musadik Masood Malik in the Senate session on June 8, 2020, the Secretary Information and Broadcasting informed the committee that a second inquiry into the matter has been conducted as per the direction of the committee.

However, he noted the Minister for Information and Broadcasting has said that the report should be submitted to the state-run TV board first. He said that the board did not exist yet and the High Court had directed to form the board within six months. To which Senator Moula Bakhsh Chandio said that it is not appropriate to give step-by-step punishments regarding the matter.

MD state-run TV told the committee that five people had been convicted in connection with the case, two had been dismissed and three had been suspended. Three people did not make the right decision and two people did not follow the process so they were fired. He said that steps were being taken to avoid such mistakes in the future, shortcomings in the process were also being rectified and senior people were being included.

Senator Faisal Javed said that the matter has been raised in Parliament for several months. Surprisingly, state-run TV has not raised the issue with the department concerned whose map is still available on its website. The committee was informed that the director of FBR was contacted but he refused to meet.

The committee adjourned the matter and summoned the FBR to its next meeting to clear the matter.

Senator Engineer Rukhsana Zubairi said that state-run TV has planned to fire the employees through a private company after scrutinising the employees and still 200 to 250 employees of 58 years have been fired and are preparing to fire more people.

To which MD state-run TV said that state-run TV's HR is restructuring the institution as to who will be required for what work. A company has been hired, which will prepare a report in a year. This step has been taken for the betterment of the organisation. He said that some employees have been sent on LPR and when they retire after two years, their respective dues will be paid.

Regarding the translation of the Qur'an into regional languages, the radio officials told the committee that the institution does not have that much talent. The chairman of the committee said that the translation of the Qur'an should be done in the national languages of the country i.e. Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Seraiki, Balochi and others so that more people can understand Islamic teachings and the Qur’an. The issue of dismissal of contract employees of state-run radio was also discussed in detail in the committee meeting. The committee was informed that for the last several years, the contract was renewed every 90 days after the recruitment of contract employees in state-run radio.

The company has 2,331 regular employees, 4,070 pensioners and about one thousand contract employees. This year, the agency has been given a shortfall of Rs1 billion. There is a shortfall of Rs40 million in pension. Numerous radio station phones have been cut off and new transmitters cannot be bought. Most of the contract employees were recruited on recommendation and have not been paid for four months.

On which the chairman and members of the committee said that the institution should reduce its expenses but should not snatch employment from anyone. State-run TV and radio have properties worth billions of rupees and they can be used effectively to generate income and the marketing plan requested by state-run radio from the standing committee was not provided. Significant income can be generated, which can solve the problems of the organisation.

Senator Faisal Javed said that the institutions should focus on austerity, as already Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government had demonstrated the same and made record savings. He emphasised that state-run TV, Pemra and state-run radio broadcast public service messages to discourage sexual violence against children.

In today's meeting of the committee, Senators Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, Sajjad Hussain Turi, Dr Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Moula Bakhsh Chandio, Engineer Rukhsana Zubairi, Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Musadik Malik and Mushahid Hussain Sayed and senior officials attended the meeting.