ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) led Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Monday directed the Pakistan Television Corporation to charge former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz advertisement rates for 101 major events shown on television in the 10 months after the former premier’s removal from office.

Presided over by Senator Faisal Javed, the committee directed the PTV management to send a bill to PML-N and former information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb as she should have taken notice of the “unnecessary” coverage of personalities who are not holding any public office.

Also read: 'PTV will continue to broadcast Nawaz, Maryam's speeches live even if they speak for 5 hours'

“This was nothing but a crime because the former prime minister was given extraordinary coverage at the expense of the exchequer. On the other hand, Ms Aurangzeb did not take notice of the coverage of personalities who were not holding office anymore. We have suggested that after recovering the bill, the amount should be spent on paying the dues of retired employees and purchase the latest equipment for PTV,” Mr Javed told Dawn.

He said this was an election campaign which was run on public expense and also claimed that PTV will be made completely independent if the PTI got into power.

PML-N should be sent bill for ‘unnecessary’ coverage of personalities not holding public office, committee said

Talking to participants of the meeting, Mr Javed said PTV was facing a financial crunch due to political decisions and unnecessary coverage of governments.

He said a copy of the bill sent to PML-N should be sent to the committee as well.

Because no PML-N senators were present in the committee, Mr Javed was not interrupted. However, Secretary Information Ali Nawaz Sukhera suggested that the committee should also seek a report from the private media to compare how much time they spent covering Mr Sharif and his daughter during the same time.

However, the committee chairman disagreed and said the private media is not run through the exchequer.

The report presented to the committee, and available with Dawn, shows that from July 29, 2017, the day after Mr Sharif was disqualified as prime minister, to May 11, 2018, the former premier and his daughter were covered 101 times on PTV.

It shows that the day after being disqualified, Mr Sharif addressed the parliamentary party which was broadcast live. His rally from Islamabad to Lahore was also telecast many times and a number of his addresses across the country were also shown.

The report says that many events led by Maryam Nawaz when her father was not present were also telecast live. The longest coverage was on Sept 10, 2017 when a rally in NA-120 was covered for five hours and 17 minutes and some events were covered for as long as 65 minutes.

Coverage of political parties, personalities

Another report tabled in the committee and available with Dawn shows that during the 20 months from Nov 2016 to June 2018, a total airtime of two hours and 43 minutes was given by PTV to six political parties including PPP, PTI, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F), Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).

PPP was given coverage of 40 minutes, PTI of one hour 28 minutes, MQM got seven minutes, JUI-F got 20 minutes, ANP was given coverage of five minutes and JI only a minute and 42 seconds.

During the 10 months from July 28, 2017 to May 31, 2018, the president was given a total air time of four hours 42 minutes, the prime minister was covered for 13 hours and 29 minutes while the foreign minister was covered for 19 hours and 44 minutes.

During same time period, chief minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa got coverage of 17 minutes, CM Balochistan was covered for 1hrs 12 minutes, CM Punjab was covered for 1hrs 11minutes, CM Sindh got coverage of 1hrs 14 minutes and CM Gilgit-Baltistan got coverage of almost 30 minutes.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018