Cyber wing to counter propaganda, NA told
* PEMRA grants 26 licences for FM Radio, 5 private TV channels
* PBC to resume Balochi bulletins from Islamabad soon
ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has said that the Information Ministry has established a cyber wing which not only projects Pakistan’s point of view and policies on its website but also takes measures to counter propaganda against Pakistan.
Answering a question by Farid Paracha during question-hour in the National Assembly (NA) on Friday, the minister said India had been using all means for its anti-Pakistan propaganda.
The minister said advertisements for employment in federal government departments were not restricted to national dailies. They were released to regional dailies as well according to the requirement by departments/organisations, he said, adding that 25 percent advertisement quota was reserved for regional papers. He said Pakistan Television earned Rs 6 billion for advertisements in 2000-2003.
The minister told the house that nobody in the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) was given unauthorised house rent in the current fiscal year. Licences: Mr Ahmed said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had given 26 licences to private companies for FM Radio and two TV channels for educational programmes, while ARY Digital, Indus Vision and AVT Prime had been allowed to operate from Pakistan.
He said during the first phase, 26 licences including five in Karachi, three each in Islamabad/Rawalpindi and Lahore, one each in Peshawar, Multan, Vehari, Sukkur, Sarai Naurang, Gujrat, Sialkot, Abbottabad, Hub Chowki, Muridke, Changla Gali, Gwadar and Bahawalpur had been given for FM radio broadcasts.
Mr Ahmed said PEMRA had decided to give licences for FM Radio stations in cities other than those included in the first phase. He said the second phase would be completed in the next one-and-a-half months.
Recruitment: The minister said no recruitment had been made in Pakistan Television Corporation, the PBC and the Shalimar Television Network. However, PTV had hired resource persons on the basis of consolidated salary in different areas to fill professional gaps.
Free calls: Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications Awais Khan Leghari told the NA that there was no proposal under consideration to make local calls free for Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) customers. The minister said rationalisation in charges of nationwide and international calls was, however, in progress.
STPs: The minister said three Software Technology Parks (STPs) had been set up in Islamabad and Lahore. He said a high-speed data connectivity on fibre had been extended to Cezar Tower in Karachi to set up an STP in private sector.
Bannu exchanges: He said Hamra Thalla and Jhando Khel exchanges in Bannu had been approved and would be set up in the current fiscal. The capacity of the Bannu Township, Domel, Ghoriwala and Nizam Bazar exchanges was being increased, he added. 7th Wage Board Award: The information minister told the NA that a 50 percent increase in salaries of newspaper workers and journalists including contract employees was announced in the 7th Wage Board Award on December 25, 2001. “The implantation of this award is entrusted to an implementation tribunal which is the responsibility of the Labour Ministry,” he added. The minister said All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) had contested the 7th Wage Board Award in the Supreme Court. Since the case was subjudice, no action had been taken for implementation of the award, he added.
Bulletin in Balochi: The minister said the PBC would resume Balochi bulletins from Islamabad soon for which qualified staff was being employed.
In reply to a question by Rauf Mengal about promotion of regional and local languages by PBC, the minister said news bulletin in Balochi language was started from Islamabad, which was later transferred to Radio Pakistan Quetta on January 1, 2002.
Advertisement: In reply to Asadullah Bhutto’s question about advertisements by the Press Information Department (PID), Mr Ahmed said the procedure approved by the cabinet in 1966 was being followed and no new instruction had been issued in this connection.
Mandi Bahauddin: To another question, the minister said the Mandi Bahauddin Exchange was working successfully. However, sometimes faults developed due to heavy traffic.
The PTCL was busy improving the system, he added. He said expansion in the exchange was people’s demand and it was hoped that the expansion would be made during the current year.—APP