Media Boom in Pakistan – 3, Sorry State of Affairs at PTV

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In the previous posts of this series, I have written a bit about the media scene in Pakistan. Now I’ll discuss the TV Industry of Pakistan in detail. Coming to the point, in this post I’ll try to discuss the boom in the TV industry of Pakistan. As discussed in my intro post, the TV Industry of Pakistan can be divided into two main tiers, the state owned channels and the privately owned ones. Then there are the sub-categories of Entertainment channels (Both Urdu and Regional Lingo ones), News Channels, Youth/Music Channels, Sports Channel finally thousands of cable operator’s channels/City channels.

In this post I’ll try to give you a brief summary of PTV, the largest in terms of coverage and viewer ship of all TV channels. PTV is now almost 43 years Old (Transmission started in November, 1964). Usually this period in time is enough to learn upon and improve any organization. In the case of PTV, a totally opposite trend can be observed with its quality detoriating. Although PTV now operates many channels including a global one but it’s performance is quite discouraging. This Government owned channel is rapidly becoming a laughing stock as far as its programming is concerned. The technical department of this channel is working in the stone ages, I presume. Just by looking at the quality of print, lighting, camera work and graphics one can guess that no improvement is being done.

Another department (being a vital one) that needs some drilling is the set design. Just look at the funny sets, especially those of Lahore PTV station. I’ll here quote an example: Has any of you got the chance to see the program, “Raat Gaye” being aired from Lahore for many months? Well the set (also the program) is totally ill managed, they do have put some money in lavish set props but the basic design is chaotic. The guests can’t see the singer/musicians as the arrangement is such that bound to sit with their backs to them.

The dram which were once the sole strength of PTV have deteriorated to a level that they are not watchable to say the least. In good old days a drama used to put a break in daily life or citizens people would not keep weddings and parties on days on which a popular drama was to be aired. These drama serials still have quality content and plots generally relate to the issues of common man. But the gory sets, lighting/Camera work and post production really kills the story. Even if these dramas depict a scene related to elite class, the set is so murky that it looks like they are showing some low area dwellings. Add to this poor lighting and all the related poor post production stuff.

It is also lacking behind the news department. previously PTV was the only channel to see the current affairs now with the advent of news channels the PTV still reports in the same old style one sided story and i know that now not many people would turn to PTV for real news.

Having some well placed sources in PTV, I know a bit about all the bureaucratic laziness looming on this channel. PTV still charges the highest amount of money for airing commercials but their revenue is fast receding. A Marketing personnel of PTV told me that they are now accepting every type of Ads even the “Telebrands” type too to meet their expenditures. He slammed the PTV administration for their strict censor policy (Many Ads these days are quite obscene according to PTV standards) as it’s proving detrimental to PTV’s advertising revenues. PTV is still getting substantial advertising revenues only because of its huge coverage, he said. There are also some extremely controversial issues regarding hiring and nepotism etc which I’ll not discuss in this article.

On a final note, I don’t see a brighter future of our State owned channel channel. They are totally wasting their huge infrastructure and coverage lead. With stiff competition and more and more channels cropping up, PTV’s administration have to take emergency measures to deal with this situation. Otherwise they have to face the music.

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  • I have not tuned into any of the PTV Channels for the last 2-3 years.

    PTV’s administration have to take emergency measures to deal with this situation. Otherwise they have to face the music.

    They are already dealing with it, Every now and then, new TV channels are popping.. Very soon We will be saying Bye Bye PTV. Though i did that 3 years ago.

  • I think a lot of people have already given up on PTV. I have beenn to their studios a few times and you know, there is talent and experience that hides in the depths of that place that is being totally wasted. There is state-of-the-art equipment that was given to them by the Japanese that is not being used the way it should and of course you are absolutely right about the sets.

    You know they could easily turn things around if they started to have a more open policy regarding accepting drama serials produced by private production houses and outsourcing some of the work that they know they are not capable of doing themselves anymore. And as for censoring ads and content, they can no longer live in the dark ages and expect to survive

  • Thanks for your comments both Bilish and Jehan Ara. Yup PTV has lost a huge chunk of its viewers to other channels.

    @Jehan, Well I don’t have accurate info about that equipment donated by Japanese but the technical side of PTV is really disgusting. As about the outsourcing scene, well PTV is certainly buying private productions but there is a bias and nepotism. Most private productions of PTV are from poor quality production houses and mostly are from Lahore side. I think PTV should implement nationalistic attitude in this case.

    Thanks

    Saad

  • I agree with Saad, that PTV should opt for getting their work done by the pros in the field. After all its a national channel and it should stand by its name. Unfortunately, the things which were once the hallmark of PTV..like professionalism and the quality of work..are the least concerns of the PTV people.

    Its high time, they do something to stop all this nonsense going on these days. You cant even sit and watch for 5 minutes. I can’t…
    The talk shows are like, they are broadcasting them from some Mohallahs, sitting there with poor lighting and off course no hope..

  • @Jehan, Well I don’t have accurate info about that equipment donated by Japanese but the technical side of PTV is really disgusting. As about the outsourcing scene, well PTV is certainly buying private productions but there is a bias and nepotism. Most private productions of PTV are from poor quality production houses and mostly are from Lahore side. I think PTV should implement nationalistic attitude in this case.

    Thanks

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