ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting Wednesday questioned why the state-owned Pakistan Television needed a partner for PSL while it got Rs7 billion in electricity bills annually.
The committee chairman, Senator Faisal Javed Khan, who presided over the meeting here, put this question to the PTV administration. Briefing the committee, PTV officials said that the rights of live cricket events on PTV Sports are till 2023 and since 2012, PTV Sports has become a 24/7 channel.
Faisal Javed said that once he went to PTV at night and saw that a promo was running for 35 minutes. PTV officials said they would look into the matter to ensure this does not happen in future. The committee also discussed the broadcasting rights of the Seventh Edition of PSL. The PTV Sports officials said that the matter was in the court. Officials said those who paid more got the rights and partnership was needed to get the rights. To this, the chairman of the committee asked if they had advertised it. Officials said they had placed the advertisement in August.
The chairman of the committee asked when they received Rs7 billion electricity bills annually, why they needed a partner. Officials told the committee that Geo did not participate in direct bidding. The matter regarding the PSL rights is in the court and the answer has been submitted in the court and it will be presented in the next meeting of the committee. The committee also sought a detailed report from the next meeting regarding the broadcasting rights for PTV and ARY's PSL 7 Edition from MD PTV.
Faisal Javed said that apart from live cricket, there was a lot of room for an improvement in programmes and pointed out that the programmes of Geo Super, A Sports were much better than PTV Sports. Live events are good but the programmes needed to be improved. The officials said that an upgrade will be completed in a few months. Improvements will be seen.
Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting informed the committee that Artists Welfare Fund was available for actors. Formerly, under the Ministry of Information, it now has the Cultural Heritage, which is headed by the President of Pakistan. The chairman of the committee said that a fund should also be set up in PTV; either stop playing old dramas or give them royalties.
The chairman of the committee said that the old contracts should be presented in the next meeting of the committee and also explain why and who ended this royalty. He issued orders to pay royalties to the performers of old dramas and directed them to provide details of all contracts in the next meeting and explain how much revenue was generated for running old dramas to the committee. "You are running repeats but not giving them royalties, you are making money from it but not giving shares to other actors and singers. Previously, PTV used to pay royalties. The committee recommends that they be given royalties as soon as possible. In the 80s, cheques were sent to the houses of actors. Those who are not working yet and were very good actors should get royalties, these people cannot get their treatment," he said.
MD Shalimar Recording and Broadcasting Company, while briefing the committee, said that if no action was taken, then liability will increase further. Salary liability is of Rs207 million while the total liabilities are over one billion. He said that there are shareholders to overcome the problem and the government can also make one-time payments.
The chairman of the committee said that at present Pakistan has no international channel. "If you go to a hotel outside, there are Indian channels everywhere and they keep on spreading propaganda against Pakistan." He said that a world class English news channel was needed. MD SRBC told the committee that his plan was to bring a better English news channel. New buildings are also being constructed in this regard.
To this, Senator Irfan Siddiqui said that if the institution was already at a loss, then what was the need for a new building and PTV World can be further improved. The chairman of the committee said that public-private partnership was a good thing and it was the best way to improve the institution. MD SRBC informed the committee that children's channels and FM radio were also bringing 94.6 MHz. He said that bidding was to take place today and four MCRs would be made in the new building.
Senators Irfan Siddiqui, Anwar Lal Din, Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Naseema Ehsan and Senator Umar Farooq besides Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, MD SRBC, MD APP, MD PTVC and officials from other relevant agencies attended.
Meanwhile, Faisal Javed and Irfan Siddiqui exchanged sharp words at the mention of party leaders during the committee meeting. The chairman of the committee said that Shehbaz Sharif's speech now comes on state TV for two hours and when Imran Khan was the Leader of Opposition, then he was not shown on state TV. This provoked PMLN Senator Irfan Siddiqui, who exchanged harsh words with the chairman of the committee.
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