Absence of acting PTV MD irks NA panel

Committee bars PTV MD from sitting in office, using powers till next meeting


Our Correspondent March 12, 2019
National Assembly of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Tuesday expressed displeasure over the absence of Pakistan Television (PTV) Managing Director (MD) Arshad Khan in the meeting.

The meeting was held at the PTV headquarters in which Arshad Khan was supposed to give a comprehensive briefing on the working and performance of the state television.

The committee, chaired by Javed Latif, said it was ironic that many members of the committee had come from various parts of the country to attend the meeting but the PTV managing director could not attend it despite the meeting was being held in its headquarters.

The committee unanimously decided that till the next meeting of the committee, he neither should be allowed to sit in his office, nor allow to use the powers as managing director.

The committee said he should come in person in the next meeting and clear his position.

The committee, in this regard, issued directives to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and directed to ensure their implementation in letter and spirit.

Giving its observation regarding the PTV managing director's absence from his duty since the last 38 days, the committee said he should be accountable for the said period salary as it was the taxpayers' money and could not be doled out to anyone.

The committee also observed that during the time when tensions were running high with India, the national broadcaster could not fulfill its responsibilities accordingly due to his absence from the duty.

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The committee also said the appointment of acting PTV managing director was also against the law and Supreme Court's directives in Ataul Haq Qasmi case.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain told the panel that since the last 38 days, the PTV managing director did not come to his office and even today he could not attend the committee meeting, adding no institution could be run in this manner.

He said the post of regular PTV managing director had been advertised and in this regard, 42 applications had been received and the acting managing director had not applied for the position.

He said presently PTV Board was not functional as it had no chairman. He said PTV annual loses have gone beyond Rs11 billion but the managing director got his salary package worth Rs2.5 million from the Board of Directors whereas the corporation had no money to pay salaries and pension of the employees on time.

Briefing the committee over the government plan to set up a new regulatory authority for all types of the media, namely Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA), the information minister said the new body would be established with the consensus of all stakeholders which would be free from government intervention.

He told the committee that presently Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority was regulating the electronic media, while the Press Council of Pakistan was looking after the print media and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was responsible for regulation of the digital media.

He said with the advancements in technology, all media had converged in cellular mobile phone set and there was a need to constitute an authority which could regulate all media simultaneously.

He informed that he had held meetings with political leaders to discuss the formation of a new media regulatory authority and copies of the concept paper of the PMRA had also been shared with media houses for their input.

The meeting was attended by MNAs Seyd Aminul Haq, Aftab,Syed Nadeem, Naz Baloch, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Usam Tarakai, Nadeem Ababs, Tahir Iqbal, Maiza Hameed, Javeria Zafar Aaheer, Aftab Jehangir. Information and Broadcasting Secretary Shafqat Jalil, PEMRA Chairman Saleem Baig and senior officials from the ministry and attached departments were also present.

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