According to a newspaper report, the PTV Corporation's auditors have pointed out a grim and alarming picture about the future of the Pakistan Television Corporation which is riddled with serious financial scams and under utilisation of its in-house resources. The auditors have pointed out various financial and operational issues, which include losses from core operations, heavy reliance on license fee, high human resource cost, low employees productivity and lack of overall business direction. The auditors have emphasised the need to move PTV towards a self-sufficient and sustainable enterprise by carrying out a comprehensive re-structuring of the organisation within a progressive strategy. The corporation was established in 1967 with A.M.S. Ahmad as its managing director. He was a senior police officer from East Pakistan and his only qualification for the job was that he was the son-in-law of the then Information Minister Khawaja Shahabuddin. Subsequently, out of some 26 MDs so far only two or three were professional people, the rest were all bureaucrats, who never had anything to do with the mass media. The MDs post was in fact reserved for the favourites of the presidents and prime ministers as a cushy job for their enjoyment. However, the tenures of these MDs were generally short and unproductive. The last professional MD who took over in January 1998 was a marketing man, started turning PTV into a 'wasteland'. The corporation with a full compliment of producers, engineers and camera units as well as fully equipped studios and TV centres which were being run by a staff of over 6000 people was made to procure programmes from the private market while its own production staff was just sitting idle. This also reflected very badly on the performance of the management team which failed to properly utilise the manpower and technical facilities on which it was spending crores of rupees. The bulk of private productions telecast on PTV channels were of very low quality, with of course, a few rare exceptions. Most of the drama and music programmes were being produced by amateurs with little professional background and expertise. PTV which was once highly rated in the region for its top quality presentations in drama and music stooped so low due to one bad judgement of its MD. In 1975, Mr Bhutto's government engaged a senior American media expert Mr Sterling 'Red' Quinlan to advise the government on measures to improve the quality of Radio and TV broadcasting in Pakistan. Quinlan was a former vice-president of the ABC Network. Before his departure, Quinlan submitted his report to the government with the following recommendations: ? Both PTV and PBC should be freed from government control to let them function and grow as autonomous organisations in a healthy atmosphere of professional freedom. It is all the more necessary in the present scenario, when PTV has to compete with a large number of TV channels in the private sector. ? PBC should be merged with PTV to form a unified Broadcast Authority under a combined administration with one-third reduction in their non-productive staff. ? All radio stations which are a financial burden on PBC should be closed down and radio broadcasting facilities be made a part of the five PTV centres, except some small production units for regional language programmes and news. ? PTV centres at Quetta and Peshawar, which are financially non-viable, should be downsized to function only as regional language programme production facilities. ? Radio programming should be confined mainly to the broadcast of news, public service announcements, regional language programmes, promotion of literacy, education and vocational guidance for rural audience and folk and classical music programmes. This report, as was expected, went into the bottomless pit of the Ministry of Information to be buried forever. The government was outraged at Quinlan's proposal to ease official control on the electronic media, while PBC made it an issue of its bloated ego to even think of any merger with PTV. These are very sound and practical recommendations for restructuring of PTV and PBC to make both organisations more productive and financially viable. This will no doubt require the political will of the government to merge radio and television organisations into a unified Broadcasting Authority under a combined administration with considerable reduction in their non-productive staff. The Authority should not be under the total control of the government as a tool of its propaganda. Unless PTV enjoys a certain measure of freedom in its news and current affairs programmes, it can never compete with the private TV channels in a highly competitive market. There have been many serious financial bunglings in PTV over the years and as the auditors have pointed out that some of its operational centres are running in a huge loss because they were not financially viable in the first place and were established under pressure from the provinces. The auditors have also pointed out that PTV is not utilising its in-house resources for programme production. Out of its 133 producers, 88 did not produce any programme during the last two years. This is nothing but gross negligence on the part of management. A vibrant TV organisation cannot be run as an outdated government office. The writer is a former director news PTV E-mail: