ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to bail out PTV World – which has caused losses worth more than Rs350 million to the exchequer since its launch in 2013. However, proposals to shut down the channel or merge it with other TV channels on the state-run network are also being considered.

In the outgoing week, there were marathon meetings between the bigwigs of the information ministry and the Pakistan Television (PTV) to discuss ways to turn the state-run network of TV channels into a revenue generating group which has faced losses to the tune of Rs3 billion annually since 2013 when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came to power.

PTV World is the first English language TV channel launched in 2013. Recently, the auditor general had stated in its report that the channel had incurred a loss of more than Rs350 million as of June 2015.

Some of the proposals discussed with the PTV’s senior management included shutting down PTV World or merging it with PTV News.

Sources confirmed to The Express Tribune that the majority of the officers opposed the idea of shutting down the channel. However, PTV’s Director News Muzamil Ahmed Khan had suggested that if PTV World was closed down, some bulletins and programmes should be aired on PTV News in English, said the sources.

In one of the proposals, PTV’s Controller In-charge Rafat Nazir suggested that instead of shutting down PTV World, the channel’s footprints should be aired in Europe and United States, according to the sources.

The shutting down of the channel or its merger has come as a surprise for many working in the channel. The channel was launched by the PPP government on the “verbal directives” of Asif Ali Zardari, but the channel has faced financial, managerial and editorial issues since then.

It is learnt that every year an amount of Rs105 million is released by the information ministry for the channel’s operational expenses. The auditor general of Pakistan in its 2015-16 report termed the releases irregular and stated that the launch of a channel was not covered in the business assigned to the ministry, nor the approval of the competent authority was obtained.

About half of the PTV World employees have yet to be regularised and interestingly none of them are working against the posts they were hired. Due to the absence of MD PTV, the internal management of the organisation has virtually collapsed, forcing the government to bail it out.

An official of the ministry who spoke to The Express Tribune said how a channel would function successfully when about 75% of its expenditure was on human resource.

Meanwhile, State Minsiter Marriyum Aurangzeb told The Express Tribune that a complete restructuring plan was under discussion.

“Nothing will be shut, but plans are underway to financially restructure the organisation with regional and all provincial representation,” she said.  –Courtesy The Express Tribune

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