Monday July 15, 2024

Senate panel takes up media ads issue

By Our Correspondent
November 30, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Monday was told that the PMLN government had given advertisements worth approximately Rs9 billion to the electronic media from 2013 to 2017, while the PTI government released those to the tune of Rs1.43 billion funds from 2018 to date to the electronic media.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib also informed the Senate panel that the Ministry of Information would complete an inquiry into the audio clip of Maryam Nawaz by Wednesday.

The Chairman Committee, Faisal Javed, sought details of spending on the government advertisements from 2008 to 2013 in the next meeting. Earlier, the panel had received a comprehensive briefing on the amount spent on the advertisement campaigns by the federal government from 2008-2013, 2013-2018 to date, both in print and electronic media.

The panel chairman wondered as to why no government advertisements were given to the entertainment channels which have far more viewership than the news channels. He observed that the advertisements were given to the channels for propagation of the government's narrative.

To a question by Javed, the official of the ministry informed that the advertisements to the media outlets were released on the assessment of distribution and viewership mechanism. During the meeting, the audio recording of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also was deliberated upon. Farrukh Habib, while briefing the committee, said that the Ministry of Information is conducting an inquiry after the audio clip of Maryam Nawaz came to light, adding that the investigation will be completed by Wednesday.

He said that the details of advertisements from 2008 to date will be brought to notice of the committee. He said that Maryam was heard instructing denial of advertisements to some channels and the related committee was looking into as in what capacity did she gave these directions.

PMLN Senator Irfan Siddiqui emphasised that one should look at advertisements from 1999 instead of just focusing on the political era. Minister Farrukh Habib said that the committee is looking into the mechanism of advertisements during the PMLN era and considering the extent to which the freedom of press was affected by stopping the advertisements. The committee chairman also sought the details of advertisements received by the channels during the PMLN regime.