The discussion "Public Broadcasting in the Time of Great Game: A Case Study of FATA" was organized in Islamabad this evening by Kutchh Khaas‚ a Centre for Arts‚ Culture and Dialogue.
Director-General Radio Pakistan Murtaza Solangi said Radio Pakistan took the lead in establishing AM Radio Station in WANA in 2004 and presently three stations are functional. He said their signals are weak but three powerful transmitters are about to commission that would take care of not only entire FATA but also Balochistan‚ KPK‚ part of Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan besides beaming signals across the border.
He said after 2008‚ Radio Pakistan made conscious efforts to broadcast news that directly affect people of FATA.
The Director-General said the listnership of Radio Pakistan has gone up from 30% in 2008 to 49% at the moment that speaks about its growing popularity in FATA.
Replying to questions by audience‚ he said those attacking our soldiers are willingly or unwillingly being used by forces inimical to Pakistan.
To another question‚ Mr. Murtaza Solangi said Radio Pakistan is working with full professional autonomy and he has not received any advice from the Government during the last four years.
Chairman PEMRA Abdul Jabbar said the Authority has so far issued 173 Radio licenses; two for Gilgit-Baltistan; five for AJK and the rest for the four provinces. He‚ however‚ said PEMRA at the moment has no legal jurisdiction in FATA.
He said PEMRA has issued 87 satellite TV channel licenses from Pakistan and 27 international TV channels for distribution through cable TV network.
He said satellite broadcasting could offer a solution for FATA but then there would be issue of high cost of the receiver.
To a question he said PEMRA has helped block 250 illegal FM stations in the country.
Chief Political Correspondent of Radio Pakistan for FATA Safdar Dawar said Radio Pakistan is very popular in FATA because of issues of literacy and ban on dish. He said Radio is especially popular with house-wives.
He said there are security threats to radio because of social and cultural background of the area.
Replying to a question he said a change is taking place in FATA with parents keen to move out their children to better places for education.