The power of policy: propelling PTVC’s growth

PTVC recently opened a bid to create OTT platform that will exclusively stream its original content

Hussain Siraj April 04, 2023


In 2021, PTVC ran an Expression of Interest to choose the right partner for airing the International Cricket Council (ICC) tournaments.

Potential partner was required to have access to a satellite channel and experience in selling advertising during sports broadcasts. The bids came from a consortium of ARY and GroupM and HBL PSL’s founding partner Blitz Advertising.

A review committee awarded top score to Blitz Advertising, which the relevant PTVC directors of finance, sports, engineering, commercial, and administration vetted. It was explicitly stated that the deal from Blitz Advertising beat every single measure of credibility.

Despite this, the intervention of the former MoIB and the chairperson of PTVC led the deal to be awarded to a consortium of ARY and GroupM. It’s worth mentioning that ARY had no sports channel when it was awarded the contract, which makes its selection even more baffling. The media company had already secured the maximum number of channel licences from Pemra.

The board of directors ignored all concerns raised by management regarding awarding the deal to the consortium with the lowest possible scores. It is not clear whether the board’s chairperson was politically motivated or financially inclined. Nor was it clear that the awarded TV channel would frame news that favoured the image of the party they represented.

In the aftermath of this deal, in which the chairperson of the PTVC board interfered, the state broadcaster suffered losses. The FIA was tasked with probing into an agreement between PTV Sports and the aforementioned private channel.

Sources shared that the investigation has concluded that PPRA rules were violated by the board’s chairperson and the former MoIB.

Post-investigation power handover in 2022

In the aftermath of the FIA’s investigation into the board chairperson’s interference in handing over the ICC deal to ARY and GroupM, during the 256th meeting between the board of directors concluded that its role oversees business strategy without interference.

The board was reminded that they were tasked to make policy decisions to ensure that the goals and targets of the organisation were met effectively and efficiently. Hence, the board may not be implicated in administrative matters.

The board currently includes PTVC chairperson and MoIB secretary Shahera Shahid, ISPR Director General Major General Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry, Budget Secretary Muhammad Tanveer Butt, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation Director General Muhammad Tahir Hassan, and MoIB Principal Information Officer Mubashir Hassan.

PTVC without board interference in 2023

With PTV content streaming digitally on YouTube channels operated by multiple mom-and-pop operators for many years, the content was exploited without any revenue to PTVC while the YouTube channel operators collected advertising money.

To solve this and expand its media ecosystem, PTVC recently opened a bid to create an over-the-top (OTT) platform that would exclusively stream its original content.

The expression of interest calls for developing an OTT application that PTV would own. It would showcase PTV content, which PTV will continue to own, and PTV would pay zero cost for the development or maintenance of the app.

Sweet deal for PTV, which is being questioned because numbers are being quoted without context, highlighted without proper proof, and aimed at creating doubt where there isn’t any reason.

The conclusion of the bid went to Z2C Limited, an accelerator known for investing in MarTech start-ups that bring transparency to the media supply chain.

The accelerator reportedly removed pirated PTV content from the internet, built the OTT app from scratch, is embarking on a campaign to market the app, attracted app downloads, and gradually pave the way for the revival of quality local content. Interestingly, this also aligns with the firm’s investment thesis.

The last thing a loss-making state enterprise needs is to mull over whether to go with a 10% profitable deal with an ecosystem investor or a 40% loss-making deal with a company with no track record of monetization. In simple mathematics, 40% of 20 will always be lower than 10% of 100.

With the Google Play Store showing under 100,000 downloads and analytics engines showing the app is popular outside Pakistan, it would suggest that the Pakistani diaspora has found their official avenue to relive a life left behind.

Amid the CAD crisis and the trend of dollars exiting the country for YouTube and Meta, the state broadcaster hoped that this strategic investment would be Pakistan’s response to ensure that the local creator ecosystem is revived.

The writer is an opinion maker, an economist with a keen eye for happenings in the media industry, @sirajhuss on Twitter


Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2023.

Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ