Islamabad, Pakistan: The Federal Interim Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi has expressed giving a new look to the state media scene to place Pakistan’s public media outlets at par with emerging global prospects and he said that PTV World (was) is the only English language channel from Pakistan and it should a choice of diplomatic cadres to get information about Pakistan’s economy, culture and social development.
He expressed his views in an interview with senior PTV Anchor Shehzad Raza at PTV’s News talk show “Riasat” on Thursday. Solangi who had been Director General of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) in the past, played a proactive role in pitching Radio Pakistan to the global scene and now he has opportunities to exercise his vision in the television industry though he has time constraints of being an Interim Minister.
PTV World can play an excellent role in promoting the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and Land Information and Management System-Center of Excellence at the global level and can address to mitigate insecurities raised by foreign investors in the past and can also work as a “Handbook for Investments in Pakistan” by providing official information to foreign investors about investment opportunities.
There is no doubt that PTV Network having PTV News, PTV Home, PTV Sports, PTV World, PTV Global, PTV National, PTV Bolan, and PTV AJK is the largest television networking in the country and surviving if not competing with mushroomed growth private television industry. However, PTV World is the only English-language channel from Pakistan and it can contribute strongly without having any competitor in the market.
Revamping PTV World as the only English language has huge scope provided the decision will have clear objectives of placing PTV World as a tool not only for pitching national narratives but also for attracting the global market through independent and reliable information flow.
PTV World was launched as a new satellite channel in the face of tough international competition in 2011 by the then Government. The launching of an English Channel with the name “PTV WORLD” was based on the idea of reaching the global community with “Our Side of Story”.
Pakistan has great significance as a regional and global actor due to its strategic location. The geopolitical importance of Pakistan provides us an opportunity as a National broadcaster to build Pakistan’s Narrative.
Pakistan’s geopolitical and geo-cultural positioning is indicative of a potential to see world events differently. Throughout history, this land has hosted the collaboration of many civilizations and has long been a hub of ideas, information, and trade interests this beauty of the land is yet to be transformed into a visual in the English language. In an age of information where the primary language of mutual communication between various cultures is English, PTV World can provide new perspectives on National/Regional and Global events to the World audience.
Far from its mandate and scope, PTV World is working as an ordinary TV channel mostly covering domestic issues and routine stories. Regrettably, PTV World has yet not come out as a separate English Language channel and it still looks like an English translation of PTV News Urdu. An extensive review of shows and news of PTV World leaves the impression that it replicates content that is already being used by PTV News Urdu and other Urdu private channels of Pakistan while English-speaking and Urdu-speaking viewership are different therefore their content demands are also diverse.
Therefore, no separate editorial sensitization is present, and global reach is being provided with the same content that is for domestic/Urdu-speaking viewership and it is like selling raincoats in deserts and riding camels in mountains.
Contrary to its original mandate the PTV World Programming and Current Affairs shows also have no global impact which excludes us from the race of international channels. Pakistan is an important regional power and can use this channel as a forum as its global mouthpiece but Pakistan is learning nothing from state-sponsored English channels including Russian TV (RT), TRT, and even the Indian Private Channel WION News that play an pivotal role for their narrative setting, promoting soft images of their countries, targeting their enemies through artfully produced visual contents and hold important global and regional debates. Al-Jazeera though a private channel has been playing an exceptional role in placing Qatar on the global stage. Media experts believe that bagging the hosting of FIFA Cup could only be possible by launching Al-Jazeera decades ago.
Pakistan in the private sector tried the WION model by injecting money into Indus TV but it miserably failed because its content was not based on “pitching information” but rather bashing the enemies and was loaded with naked state propaganda. It is strongly believed that TRT got the idea of an English Channel from PTV World and a team of Turkish media experts came to Pakistan and studied PTV World before launching TRT World. Now look at where PTV World is standing and where TRT has reached.
What is to be done?
- PTV World should work as an international news channel with the mandate of covering global news stories following the footprints of BBC World, Al Jazeera, TRT World, and other Regional and global channels.
- The news bulletins should be designed on with the concept of world stories and timelines to make it a Global channel.
- News shows, talk shows, and Current Affairs Programs need to be re-designed with no time lapse to ensure Pakistan’s side of the story on global issues.
- PTV World should redesign its content and add a narrative that includes Pakistan’s diplomacy and Pakistan’s foreign policy.
- PTV world can be made a platform for overseas communities. The only state-run English medium channel will not only reach the Pakistani Diaspora across the globe, but it will also provide access to the Pakistani community for sharing their views and suggestions for the development of Pakistan.
- There is no program designed by PTV World to introduce Pakistan politically on the MAP of the world. Designing a political show for the PTV world will counter international propaganda and tell our side of the story.
- Diplomacy (particularly Pubic Diplomacy) in the times of the Fifth Generation War demands a vibrant media strategy. Exclusive shows and a constant news policy can be designed to highlight the diplomacy of Pakistan.
- The English news channel can also be used to glorify Pakistan’s efforts in Science and Technology.
- PTV World should collaborate in news and current affairs content with international news channels, particularly Eurasian channels.
- Pakistan being a climate-hit country needs a continuous campaign for climate resilience and its requirement from the global community. This campaign is missing at the only English news channel in the country. PTV world can create innovative content for international media organizations which will market our needs and help remind the international community what Pakistan needs.
- PTV World can become the media partner for all international conferences to be held in Pakistan.
- PTV has the largest reporting team (Stringers) across the globe. A senior journalist/Reporter can appear on the PTV World screen from almost every capital of the world. PTV News should start a global show with its stringers/Reporters highlighting the Pakistani side of the story. PTV OSRs abroad can contribute to every developing story globally.
- The stringers policy for international stations may be revised so that we can engage English-speaking Pakistani Journalists around the globe who will work for PTV World.
- Social media of global channels takes the lead and provides adaptations/ promos/catch lines/ tickers from programming and their websites are the main vehicles to promote their content. However, PTV World as well as PTV News just works on its Twitter handle and that is only a poster of the show and nothing else—no catch lines—no tickers and teasers. A complete overhaul of the social media team is needed if we want to reach the global eyeballs.
The above-mentioned pointers may be useful for the Interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi who expressed his desire to place PTV World on the global media stage with a clear policy that PTV World would not be a domestic consumption channel and would not face “news cuts” in its transmissions to accommodating politicians’ press conferences who talk nothing just their domestic issues.