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PMDA draft bill: Fawad says stakeholders will be consulted – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Hussain Chaudhry Monday informed the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting that draft bill for Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) will be finalised in consultation with all the stakeholders.

The committee meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Faisal Javed. Earlier, in the last meeting of the committee, Fawad had given a detailed briefing on the proposed PMDA. The chairman Committee inquired about the developments regarding the proposed authority, which were discussed in the previous senate committee

Chairman Committee Senator Faisal Javed remarked that “We will discuss and give feedback once draft of the PMDA is shared with the committee”. The committee also directed the PTVC and Radio Pakistan to provide an optimisation plan of lands and buildings under their administrative control.

Meeting commenced with consideration of compliance report on the recommendations made by the Committee in its meeting held on 2August 2021. The PTVC officials informed the committee that the PTVC is in the process of revaluation of its lands and buildings scattered all over the country. It is a huge task and will be completed through third party for which the tender has been issued.

As soon as the revaluation process is finalised, the next phase regarding optimisation and utilisation plan of these lands and buildings will be submitted to the Senate Standing Committee as directed, the official added. The committee in its previous meeting had sought province-wise and category-wise lists of all contractual employees recruited by the PTVC in the last five years, along with their pay structures since recruitment to date. List provided by the PTVC came under consideration during the meeting.

Senator Irfanul Haq Siddiqui had pointed out that there seems to be great disparity between salary packages of the employees. He further added that “There are some employees whose salary has increased in the last five years and yet there are some who are still getting the same salary throughout the same period without any increment. What sort of system is being followed by the PTVC?” Daily wage workers are being discriminated, while adding that daily wagers should at least be given a contractual job.

Replying to which, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad said that, the PTVC provides equal opportunity to talented candidates and recruits according to the capacity and need from time to time on merit basis. Most of the appointments are of dependents of deceased employees including widows/children on case to case basis and batches against quota.

Furthermore, in order to have competitive advantage over other media organisations, the PTVC hired professionals including anchors to sustain its credibility and viewership of the people. Fawad lamented the role of previous governments in hiring unnecessary staff on a political basis.

“We have introduced a system of public-private partnership leaving limited liability on part of the government. We are going to upgrade PTV Sports transmission to HD quality,” he said.

He further said that the HRM is a key area and this section should be allowed to make policies without any interference from outside. It should be left to the professionals to decide what is best for the organisation. We have hired a top HR firm in order frame policies in best interest of the state media. Senator Faisal directed the PTVC officials to rationalise the HR policies.

“We should not concentrate on whatever wrong has been done in the past”.

The chairman Committee pointed out that there seems to be a disparity in the salary structure and a proper system should be developed for the same. The chairman Committee further directed the PTVC officials to provide a complete list of employees hired from 2008 onwards.

The Minister for Information and Broadcasting informed the committee members that the ministry intends to run PTV Parliament live broadcast on commercial basis. Private TV channels should pay for the live feed provided by the PTVC.

The committee proceedings moved on for further consideration of bill titled, “The Right of Access to Information (Amendment) Bill 2020”, referred by the House on 25th of January 2021. The chairman committee lamented the absence of the movers of the said bill. Discussion on the proposed amendments was deferred to be taken up in the next committee meeting.

Issue of delivering public service messages through mass media was also discussed. The PTVC officials informed the committee that PSM messages are being broadcasted regularly on PTV. The chairman Committee questioned as to why private TV channels are not running public services messages during prime time.

“Dedicating at least 10 percent of advertising airtime is part of licensing agreement with private TV channels”.

The chairman Committee directed to seek a comprehensive report from the PEMRA on the matter and summoned Pakistan Broadcasting Association (PBA) representative in the next meeting of the committee. The committee meeting was attended by senators, Irfanul Haque Siddiqui, Aon Abbas Buppi, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Anwar Lal Dean, Naseema Ehsan, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, and officials from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the PTVC.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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