ISLAMABAD: A digital migration policy for Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) will be presented to Prime Minister Imran Khan in the next week, Information Secretary Zahida Parveen told a subcommittee of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting.

The committee met here to discuss the ongoing reforms in Radio Pakistan and was chaired by Convener Syed Aminul Haq and attended by members of National Assembly Usman Khan Tarakzai and Maiza Hameed.

The secretary said the digital migration policy would be implemented in PBC in three phases at the cost of Rs3.995 billion in six years.

She said since India was encroaching on radio frequencies of Pakistan, so the new digital policy for the radio was important to increase its listenership and coverage and advance the country’s narrative.

The committee was apprised during the briefing that All India Radio had planned digital management coverage and after its completion, over 70pc of India and border areas would be covered with 30 DRM broadcast stations, so Pakistan also needed to transform its radio stations.

Radio Pakistan Director General Samina Waqar told the parliamentarians that in the first phase, a digital broadcast pilot project will be completed in one year. The project will be executed with an estimated cost of Rs42 million.

Other projects during this phase will include a one-kilowatt digital rights management (DRM), Frequency Modulation (FM) station in Islamabad, 400KW digital Amplitude Modulation (AM) station in Peshawar and 100 KW station in Dera Ismail Khan.

In the second phase to be completed in three years at the cost of Rs3,153 million, a 1,000 KW digital station will be set up in Fort Monroe in district Dera Ghazi Khan and it will cover areas in all the four provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

After the availability of funds, 13 DRM FM stations of 10 to 5KW in 13 cities will also be established in this phase.

In the third phase, 100KW digital AM stations will be set up in Lahore, Skardu, Quetta and Peshawar with an estimated cost of Rs800 million.

The committee was informed that the technology migration of Radio Pakistan from analogue to digital, would allow transmission of four channels on a single transmitter and crystal clear sound quality.

The transformation to digital will cut the operational costs of Radio Pakistan. The new technology was a necessity as the obsolete AM/FM held receivers were no more available in the market.

With the new digital technology, all locally assembled cars will be equipped with DRM receivers and the local assemblers and manufacturers will incorporate DRM capability in mobile phones.

The subcommittee was told that Radio Pakistan was now spending 83pc of its funds on salaries of employees and pensioners.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2019

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