Pakistan’s national television channel has suffered over Rs1 billion in losses since the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz came into power in 2013. Pakistan Television’s (PTV) current losses stand at Rs1.12 billion, according to documents available with The Express Tribune.
The financial position at the state-run broadcaster was way better in 2012-11 when it earned a profit of Rs219 million. The earning of the corporation in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscals stood at Rs147 million and Rs137 million, respectively.
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After the incumbent government took over, the PTV witnessed a whopping loss of Rs733 million in the fiscal year of 2013-14. The previous 2014-15 fiscal was no better with the organisation suffering losses of Rs396 million. The accumulated losses in the two years come to Rs1.12 billion.
In a recent standing committee meeting, Information and Broadcasting Division Secretary Imran Gardezi also lamented about the poor state of affairs at the state-run channel.
He said the PTV spent about 70% of its budget on human resource management and only 30% on programming. He feared the percentage spending on human resources could touch 100% if the matter was not taken care of.
Gardezi added that such huge amount of budget in HR was unlike the norms of industry and plans were being made to streamline it, including improvements in programming by avoiding heavy reliance on private production.
He said the network’s boosters and infrastructure were outdated while its studios were in a shambles. He claimed a new business plan for making PTV self-reliant and a profit-generating entity would be implemented soon. PTV Chairperson Ataul Haq Qasmi also seconded Gardezi, saying the organisation employed over 5,000 staffers across the country and inevitably they would have to be utilised rather than relying on buying programmes from private channels.
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He was replying to questions of the legislators on why the PTV was increasingly purchasing already-run dramas for its transmission. “We are trying our best to revive the old face of PTV but it will take some time,” Qasmi believed.
Members of the National Assembly have also criticised the way PTV was being run, the losses it was suffering and called for drastic measures to make it a “trendsetter in quality entertainment and news”.
The lawmakers were told the current rating of PTV News stood at 11 while that of PTV Entertainment was eighth. PML-N MNA Marriyum Aurangzeb warned the PTV management and the ministry officers present in the standing committee meeting that if the HR situation was not handled prudently “we would be talking about PTV’s privatisation as we are doing about the national flag carrier”.
She suggested only an HR management plan could rescue the national television from a nosedive. She said the lawmakers had been listening to the same promises and rosy presentations for the last three years but nothing could change the fate of PTV.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2016.
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