By: Rashid Sami

It has been almost six weeks since I wrote part-I under the same title. In the earlier column I discussed the deserted look of PTV stations all over the country as artists, performers, writers and even the PTV employees now seek their piece of cake in private productions. In that column it was also discussed in detail how PTV is now planning to rent out their studios, equipment and staff plus the fact that within one year almost two thousand PTV employees would be reaching their age of retirement.

The story does not end here as no fresh people are hired and the available staff is not provided with any new training. This may prove lethal for PTV. Another cause of concern is that PTV has to split up the same advertising revenue with other up-coming satellite based Pakistani channels.

Ironically we have field as a positive and progressive nation and such is the case with PTV. The advertising revenue available to the mini-screen amounts to approximately Pak Rs 2.2 to 2.4 billion whereas across the border the advertising revenue, within the past 4 to 5 years, has sharply risen from Rs 40 billion to more than 65 billion. Furthermore the multinationals and sponsors, including the Army backed Askari Commercial Bank, not only opt for an Indian satellite channel for placing their advertisements but they go to the extent of making advance payments.

Downsizing operations has resulted in shrinking the advertising budget on the part of sponsors.

With ‘privatization’ of the time slots on PTV network and selling bulk time to private productions on PTV World, the situation has further deteriorated. There were incidents when one of these investors entered an agreement with smaller investors on ‘sharing’ the time rounds. According to such agreements the smaller investors were responsible for the supply of software/drama and was also responsible for co-selling/marketing commercial airtime directly to the sponsor. Soon after the launching of he project on television both parties were selling commercial time for the same programme on different rates. After disagreements both entered a retrace where one would offer discounts directly to the sponsor who was in-turn more than one–third the original price.

Furthermore, the other investors on PTV network rely heavily on ‘PR’ practices than the quality of programming. “Basant” in Lahore is one of the occasions when the advertising gurus, brand managers, media walley and sponsors are offered maximum adverts. Entire floors of hotels are booked several months ahead to the event and the ‘package’ includes pick and drop, to and from the doorstep.

Now that the situation is clear as how the present advertising revenue is being sought and that a further enhancement does not seem possible. The launch of new Pakistani satellite channels is yet another question mark. The new channels would rely on the advertising budget already available in the local market and suppose if there are further three channels launched including Indus Vision and ARY-Digital, the split in the already existing ‘manager’ advertising revenue is inevitable.

At 2 time when production of teevision programmes at PTV – apart from religious, current affairs and regional programmes – has almost ceased, the revenue generating slots are sold to private investors, a great number of PTV employees have reached their retiring age, there is no backup line of creative people available for the production of programmes. With the continued brain drain at PTV, its future will be a lot less creative and will act more like and administrative entity.

Dhun Harmari Tumharey naam hui is a two episode shoib