Failure to cover PM’s Lahore visit costs PTV officials their jobs

Published May 1, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visits Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail on April 24. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visits Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail on April 24. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The state-run Pakis­tan Television (PTV) has suspended 17 officials for failing to ensure ‘proper’ coverage of PM Shehbaz Sharif’s Lahore visit on the channel last week.

Strangely, the broadcast failure was due to the non-availability of an advanced laptop required to upload the video footage through file transfer protocol (FTP).

The suspended employees, on the other hand, claimed they had been scapegoated by the administration appointed by the previous regime in order to save the bigwigs.

PM Sharif had on April 24 visited Kot Lakhpat Jail and Ramazan Bazaars in Lahore, however, the PTV team, despite prior information failed to cover the events on the spot allegedly owing to non-availability of a properly functional laptop.

As per the standard operating procedures, a VVIP team comprising reporters and producers is responsible for the coverage of the prime minister. The team is equipped with the latest broadcast gadgets, including laptops for live streaming and timely uploading of the footage of any event. The core team is stationed in Islamabad and moves with the PM across the country and abroad.

As per documents available with Dawn, when the PTV Lahore centre was conveyed about the PM’s visit, they informed the PTV headquarters and its director news about the non-availability of an advanced laptop.

Earlier on April 18 also, PTV Lahore had written a letter to the headquarters informing it that they had hired a laptop from a private vendor for the PM’s visit to the city a day ago, as the office did not have one of its own.

The Lahore centre wrote in the letter: “Prime Minister of Pakistan was scheduled to visit Lahore… the Press Information Department demanded an editing team with a laptop along with the news team for timely editing and feeding to the concerned from the spot.”

The letter further stated: “Since we don’t have any laptop editing facility at the Lahore centre, we hired a laptop with the editing facility this time and deputed staff from the centre, but as a permanent arrangement we must own the same facility at the centre.”

Sources in PTV said the Lahore bureau was informed about the PM’s April 24 visit. It once again demanded a laptop, however, the in-charge of reporting as well as current affairs departments of the state-run TV in the capital did not pay any heed and suggested hiring one again.

Sources said the Lahore centre GM was compelled to get his personal laptop from home and hand it over to the VVIP coverage team. After coverage, when the team tried to transmit the footage to the office through FTP, it found the battery of the laptop had drained. Subsequently, instead of the visuals from the spot, PTV covered the event through an audio beeper of the reporter.

Traditionally, the PTV higher management suspended senior officials at the helm of affairs, but this time those removed from office included those from the second and third tiers.

According to the documents, the very next day after the PM’s visit, the PTV administration department on April 25 suspended the VVIP coverage deputy controller, Imran Bashir Khan, and handed over its additional charge to Haroon Elahi, the officiating controller news.

Moreover, Executive Programmes Manager Qaiser Sharif was assigned the additional charge of Lahore centre general manager instead of Saifuddin, and Current Affairs Producer Ishtiaq Ahmed was appointed as the head of current affairs by removing Sohail Ahmed. In addition, the administration suspended various engineers and cameramen over alleged neglect, the documents stated.

PTV spokesman Sohail Bokhari could not be reached for comment.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2022

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