By: Rashid Sami

Conflict and controversy are what makes an interesting script’ was the first lesson that one received when starting off as a writer.
In these columns we have previously discussed the fears of the media children of a lesser god, alleging the ‘clandestine practices’ of our Islamabad-based lords in general and media masters in particular.

Ironic as in is, criticism, healthy or otherwise, irks a great number of people. Friends and foes are equally disturbed and seem to look the other way whenever one makes an entry in their domain. Therefore for the time being nothing controversial has been touched upon in this column.

By over second our world is transforming into a global village. Our physical entry may be restricted in many parts of this world, but technology has uncovered new horizons and boundaries beyond our imagination.

Our mini screen which only a little while ago offered three ‘less entertaining and more sarkari’ channel i.e. PTV1, PTV2 and STN, is presently offering up to 24 channels. In urban areas legal and illegal cable networks offer a package of 20-25 channels for less than three hundred rupees a month.

Quality picture and second are the main ingredients is a good film or television production. The present production quality at the three local channel are not up to the international standards. Critics equally blame some private producers and the PTV technical staff for the present state of technical presentation. “Watch any drama soon after the Prime Minsiter’s coverage on television and you would notice almost a 100 per cent improvement in the picture and audio quality as the technical aspect is adjusted to its fullest,” a private producer adds.

Pakistan Television Corporation has made some purchases in order to improve the picture quality on the mini screen Video technology, which was introduced in one-inch tape format based on analog signals in the early sixties has now been transformed into quarter of an inch tapes and digital circuits. The new digital equipment is fast and accurate and is almost format. Most of the developed countries like America, the European Union, Japan and Australia are some of the countries that have already adopted the digital format.

Through System Network PTV has inducted the new DVCPRO range of products comprising camcorder, linear and non-linear post production equipment and the Emmy award winner Panasonic DVCPRO Laptop field editing system, most probably to be used in the current affairs department. Pakistan Television has also installed Avid digital non-linear system at the PTV Academy. Avid systems are the latest and most advanced in the broadcast trade. It compresses the conventional analogue footage into a digitized format thus requiring less storage space, media clips and sound files are accessible in real time. Unlike the conventional analogue it can retrieve sequences, shots and frames instantaneously. Private producers were recently invited to a workshop on the Avid systems. However, feasibility of new technology, specially digital, relies heavily upon the after sales service and supply of highly sophisticated parts, which the dealers, Systems Network, claim to essure.

This week saw special coverage of elections in the Indian held Kashmir on PTV from Azad Kashmir. Programmes included an all dry discussion on the situation in held Kashmir, Indian atrocities and the election boycott that Kashmiris have observed in the past and the present elections. Special documentaries and songs were prepared to highlights the sufferings of the Kashmiris. Khabarnama as usual presented the untrue ‘sarkari version’ on the strike day which was widely condemned.

Coming to the dramas, Action Series on Mondays on PTV World is a fresh addition to the mini-screen. Directed by Shamoon Abbasi, it has a fresh treatment. The angles used are usually filmi with yellow picture touch. There is a mixture of new and experienced east and story treatment is fact. The director seems to have used all the western action masala available in the video shops. However, the script needs attention and lacks depth.

Saharey on the other hand has little action and all masala that has become the requisite for the “overly produced” dramas on PTV prime time. After watching dramas in the prime time slot one feels that marketing has finally taken over all the other aspects of television production. It was mentioned earlier that commercial time should be restricted to 5-6 minutes for 25 minute programmes and 10-12 minutes for the 58 minute programmes. Presently the private investors not only place commercials in the allotted mid-breaks but an additional curse is the bumper-breaks which can bring in commercials at any time in the programme. Interest is lost as these ‘bumper’ can come between situations or even dialogue. By doing this PTV will not only lose viewership but it is also unfair to the PTV viewer.

Ghazanfar Ali and Nadeem are back from Paris after shooting, Bisaat, written by Imran Aslam, has been directed Nadeem and has Aaminah Haq and Akbar Subhani apart from others. The remaining bit of the serial is to be recorded in Pakistan.

Gulls & Guys is yet another entertaining documentary series directed by Shoaib Mansoor. It takes us around the world and research work should be given full marks. From rituals to historic events, ancient and modern architecture and eating places to entertainment outlets, Gulls & Guys is a treat to watch. It is surprising that only a few directors at PTV come up with innovative scripts and productions. It would be not wise to ask why but one could definitely question their presence in the PTV set-up.