PTV — in need of an overhaul

With the advent of the PML-N government, the channel has suffered losses worth Rs1.12 billion

Editorial April 25, 2016

In the past 15 years or so, the electronic media in the country has seen exponential growth with countless TV channels now gracing the airwaves. The programming on the state-run PTV, however, appears to be unaffected by these changes and we continue to witness the same poor production quality, which has not changed in years. It has now come to light that in the past two years alone, with the advent of the PML-N government, the channel has suffered losses worth Rs1.12 billion. Nearly 70 per cent of PTV’s expenditure is reportedly on human resources, while a mere 30 per cent is on programming. It seems that either PTV suffers from the same affliction plaguing other state-run entities, that of overstaffing, or its employees are being paid disproportionately high salaries, not reflected in the quality of programming produced.

PTV has never been allowed to run independently and on the news front; it has only ever acted as a mouthpiece of the government of the day. This has led the channel to have negligible credibility and a poor reputation for impartiality. It is a shame that even when it comes to entertainment programming, the channel fares poorly. PTV does not even stand among the top 10 channels of the country, despite the fact that it has the advantage of huge penetration and can be watched in areas that are out of reach of other broadcasters. In the past, PTV has given us the best of Pakistani drama, and many of its productions are remembered decades after they first aired. It is hard to recall any drama production of PTV of recent times that could be compared to the programming of yore. It is high time that the traditional way of the powers-that-be, of viewing PTV as property of the government of the day, is reformed. Perhaps it is time to consider running it along the lines of the BBC, which despite being a state-run broadcaster, functions independently to a large degree. PTV runs on taxpayers’ money and it is important that it reflect the tastes and views of a broad cross-section of society.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2016.

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Maqsood A Kayani | 7 years ago | Reply Your attempt at comparing PTV with BBC is a non-starter. PTV is a pygmy in front of BBC which is independent of all govt influence whereas PTV is (and has always been) the family heirloom of the political party in power. BBC's news content is according to the news' news-worthiness. If the British Prime Mister or the Queen have not done anything newsworthy they will not get even a mention. Whereas the PTV news is the 'Wazeer-Nama' - a rundown of the daily activities of, starting with, the Prime Miister, then the President on to the Chief Ministers / Governers then the Ministers and then the small fry i.e. the 'Muttwalas' and the 'Jiyalas' etc. As for PTV's program content nowadays, the lesser said the better. In it's heydays, PTV's program content was much better classic Urdu dramas and plays, classic English TV series like Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos', Alex Hailey's 'Roots', Star Trek, Lucy Show etc. What pinches me most is PTV charging license-fee and showing commercials / ads as well. No country allows any media company to charge license-fee and earn income by showing commercials / ads. BBC is allowed to charge license-fee but it is not allowed to show even a single commercial / ad. BBC World TV does allow a slot for one or two commercials every 15 minutes but this slot is for the use of local / regional cable operators and the income stays with them, it does not go to BBC. By showing commercials PTV is invading the domain of Private TV networks whose only income is through commercials. PTV should be sued for all the money it has earned from commercials and the money returned to private TV networks.
Kashif Riaz | 7 years ago | Reply Certainly you have pointed out a very important issue because i still remember there is time (6-7) years back when it is too hard to wait for our favourite serials but now we scratch various channels for entertainment but never look up for PTV why? because of the above reasons....despite this i believe they are waiting for PTV to come to the same stage as of PIA,railway or steel mills so that they can easily put it to the privitisation list it as well.
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