ISLAMABAD: Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on Wednesday expressed displeasure regarding the policy of Pakistan Television (PTV), which they said only covers government events and decided to play their role in making PTV independent and neutral.

“Not only will we seek a complete report on how much time is given to each political party and provinces, but we will also make PTV a state television, not a government-run television. It is unfortunate that even during parliamentary sessions, PTV News covers government personalities and ignores opposition leaders,” the committee’s chairman, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Faisal Javed said.

The committee was meeting to identify areas pertaining to the ministry, its attached departments and autonomous bodies which need to be looked into urgently and to devise a strategy to address the issues at the earliest.

Mr Javed demanded reports of the committee over the last three years so that it can implement them. He also said the committee will look into the code of conduct of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

He suggested that the ministry should be directed to submit a report on whether it is making any effort to ensure that Pakistani channels are being telecast abroad.

“There is a separate department in India which ensures their movies are played across the globe and that their channels are shown in hotels etc,” he said.

Jamaat-i-Islami’s Mushtaq Ahmed said the committee should look into all television channels, radio stations and newspapers and that even private media should give equal coverage to all political parties.

“The committee should call Pemra and direct it to stop vulgar advertisements in which unnecessary dances are shown and we should also look into dramas which are against our culture,” he said.

He applauded the decision of Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui for banning infotainment shows and said parliament should have made the decision instead.

“If we do not do our job, the courts will intervene and streamline the issues. There are 117 television channels and most of them do not bother about the culture, ethics and norms of Islam, he said.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislator Khushbakht Shujat said that all media has been politicised and that every channel follows the line of some party or the other. Even PTV has not improved its quality and has the same style it had in the 1970s, she said. She suggested that the committee ask about the criterion of appointing PTV heads.

“It is unfortunate that in advertisements it is shown that a son tells his mother that he had dinner outside and then goes into his room to have biryani with his wife. Are we going to promote liars in our society,” she asked.

The committee also decided to look into the sports channel as it purchases the rights of matches at very high rates.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2018