Quite recently, many people on television, and even bloggers, have been indulging in personal slander and unabated criticism on PTV Sports – one of the topmost 24/7 channels. I must acknowledge that no one likes being criticized; regrettably, it is a fact of life. However, responding to criticism with decency, for me, is significant. It is an important skill, which I am sure most of us lack.

I, being a direct stakeholder, and responsible for channel’s management, would be giving a response with careful consideration. I won’t even try responding to a ‘campaign’ launched by one of our competitors after they had failed to acquire the rights of Pakistan’s domestic cricket, since it only reflected ‘myopia’ and a feeling of being downed. Nonetheless, there was one telephone call taken live on their prime time show by ‘Mani’, a comedian turned host turned ‘everything’, to which I have already served a legal notice. It was only about ‘frustration’, and a childlike ‘rant’ without any truth whatsoever.

There was a blog written recently. It was obnoxious, seemingly based on personal ‘hatred’. It was definitely not pragmatic. Even though the language was quite impressive, the content was abysmal. Most of it was observational, and not supported by evidence based inferences. There were judgments made quite whimsically. It was ‘probably’ biased. The major portion of the write-up didn’t even provide me with the slightest opportunity to learn and improve from the suggestions manifested, just because the author had written whatever he intended to without any research or logic. Since he had chastised PTV Sports , which is now topping the ratings, and is highest on consumer demand and profitability or revenue generation, and because there weren’t any valuable suggestions, I won’t be responding with his tone and style of criticism or his confrontational manner. I want to bring to light the reality behind distorted facts.

With my missionary school background, I have studied both in Pakistan and England. I have been the world over, be it for sports or academic assignments. I am not someone who only values praise or somebody miserable.

My first reaction going through a blog written by Mutazalzaluzzaman (@ M_Tarar) entitled ‘Why is Dr Nauman Niaz being allowed to run PTV Sports like his personal plaything?’ was to not take it personally. I didn’t, actually, since it was from someone who probably has no experience of broadcasting, hosting TV shows or someone with the knowhow of how channels are run. It was evident from his narrow-minded onslaught. 

I thought the gentleman criticizing me directly was unwarranted, and I felt he wasn’t criticizing my real self, just an un-illumined aspect of what I have been on screen. His criticism, I think wasn’t even about his pride or jealousy – since jealousy is a mere passing emotion – it was purely observational, and he had the right to do it since the medium he chose has no bounds. And if he was thinking that by sending a copy to the Managing Director of the PTVC one would see people ousted, he must really be naïve. Credibility and facts are the factors which allow any organizational head to determine who is doing what. Sadly the gentleman was firing in thin air.

One, he termed me as a cricket fan, a medical doctor who is hosting a show ‘with an eclectic mixture of former players from Pakistan and abroad’ – all true. However, he forgot to get into the real credentials since his aim was not positivity but pure maligning. I simply laughed reading ‘the good doctor has no credentials to be hosting the show, much less be the director of the channel’. My reply to this would only be the fact that the gentleman probably was condemning ESPN, STAR SPORTS, TENSPORTS, TV NZ, GRENADA TELEVISION, TALKSPORT, almost all the channels in Pakistan, even the Asian Cricket Council, the Pakistan Cricket Board, the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and also the Pakistan Television or challenging the integrity professionalism and intellect of all those who picked me to host shows or as commentator/analyst over 5,000 times since 1996. And he must be smart enough to condemn institutions in England, which certified me as a professional anchor. He must also be smarter than the corporate houses and sponsors who infused close to Rs 300 million on the show GAME ON HAI during the ICC World Cup 2015 on PTV Sports . By the way, the numbers are only from one event.

About me not being worthy to be a Director of the channel, first he should know you do not have a director of a channel but of an organization or a network. Silly me, I thought he was wiser than all those at the Ministry of Information Broadcasting & National Heritage who, through a process had finalized my appointment. Interesting isn’t it that only on August 14, 2014 was I bestowed a Civil Award by the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Tamgha-i-Imtiaz) for contributions in sports journalism and broadcasting. Then there are my eight books, one of them The Fluctuating Fortunes launched by the Prime Minister Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 2005 at the PM House in Islamabad. Not to mention my 3,000 plus articles for top newspapers, almanacs or websites both in Pakistan and abroad a few like Wisden Almanack, Cricinfo, Saudi Gazette, DNA (India), The Cricketer International, The News International in Pakistan, The Nation, The Daily Dawn, The Muslim, even the Express Tribune or the Daily Times. And so, I couldn’t really comprehend what else someone requires as ‘credentials’, especially after having interviewed world stars and celebrities for different channels in England, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies or in Pakistan. I must say, it would have really been tough for the late Sir Clyde Walcott, the late Sir Collin Cowdrey, Graham Gooch, David Gower, Allan Lamb, Mark Butcher, Graeme Thorpe, Sir Vivian Richards, Wasim Akram and a gauntlet of others having been interviewed by me, some even recently. Hats off to this gentleman whose intellect and power of observation, or the credentials, must really be higher than the few I have named.

It was also news to me that I allocated ‘ridiculous amounts of budget to my own show and vanity project’. I wonder what the Managing Director or Director Finance or Chief Commercial Officer does at the PTVC, if I have to make all the budget allocations. And GAME ON HAI, being termed as a ‘vanity’ project, generated unprecedented revenue and the maximum commercial airtime, which is why the two hour show frequently had to be stretched to four hours during the ICC World Cup 2015 – the three the major competitors, even the TENSPORTS, were beaten hands down. PTVC would love to have some more ‘train crashes in a slow motion’, since it provided beef to the exchequer of the organization.

The language in which GAME ON HAI was conducted was a policy decision. The foreign players were informed beforehand, and it was acceptable to them. As it turned out, what mattered were the ratings, the revenue and not opinions of the sickly or the naïve. His mention of Jonty Rhodes being irked or rude must be purely observational or what he could see since the former South Africa superstar is always a willing man to arrive and work at the PTV Sports . Recently, for a project, which was tailor made for charity, he readily made himself available without seeking any remuneration. He definitely got fatigued, since the show had to be taken up to four hours; however, he was always there and never once did he leave the screen.

One point has all the credibility, where a typo error led to the ‘Averages’ being shown as ‘Strike Rates’. I sincerely apologize for one human frailty by the technical staff. They should have been crucified, despite being few in number and working for almost eighteen hours throughout the competition at odd times. I accept the slur.

About my language, or the usage of high sounding English words, he must be spot on since my write-ups must have been printed by the stupidest people and the multi-billion dollar consortiums asking me to deliver lectures throughout the world, must be out of their mind as well. Accepted sir!

About my favourite past time being inserting myself into stories that show how I am best friends with Pakistani players; truth be told, since I have grown up with most of them playing at a level and also being with them as part of the national team on tours to UAE, the West Indies, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand in 2000-01 – I believe it must be true.

About Mohammad Wasim being supported financially not going down well with the author of the blog; I apologize for that. But it was Wasim himself who mentioned it and not anyone else. And to me Wasim is a bold and charming cricketer who doesn’t have any skeletons to hide. The context of the conversation had to be understood, which the blogger missed. It was about the PCB not really looking after people who not only represented Pakistan but brought success, glory and pride for all of us.

Blocking critics or responding to them remains my right, as in case of the gentleman making half-cooked observations. Sanath Jayasuriya’s fiddling with the phone is acceptable since he was doing the shows being a politician of the ruling party in Sri Lanka. He was talking to the President of his country regularly and fulfilling his commitment with PTV Sports , since the cabinet had been dissolved. Nonetheless, the same Jayasuriya went on a visit to the Army Public School to show solidarity; the same Jayasuriya is more than eager to ensure that the Sri Lanka team tours Pakistan in near future. This is only because, after being hired by PTV Sports , he spent time in our country and felt it wasn’t as unsafe as propagated internationally. He is a friend of Pakistan and a friend to all of us at the PTV Sports .

I won’t comment on my style of conducting the shows since it may well seem weird to some.

Now the recommendations made by the author of the blog to have Bazid Khan doing the show, a nice suggestion by all means. Bazid is a wonderful kid. I was the one who brought him on television for the first time when he sweated and stammered. And I really feel proud to see him growing. He is a top class analyst and now a fast developing international commentator, but he has never been trained as a host. Though not schooled or developed as an anchor, he was provided several opportunities to host the shows on PTV Sports . Nonetheless, the sponsors weren’t really keen to have him employed in that role.

Bazid wasn’t even being recommended by the sponsors to become part of GAME ON HAI during the ICC World Cup 2015. But to promote him and encourage him after seeing him work extremely hard, it was only at the PTV Sports that he was incorporated, despite extreme resistance from the investors. Why Bazid wasn’t part of the commentary team during the recently National T 20 tournament was entirely due to his apprehensions and demands. He was offered the opportunity, which he refused because he thought he was not being remunerated as he should have been. It was his choice and we accepted gleefully.

We at the PTV Sports feel proud to see him making his name internationally. He has been our product and we own him completely. Why I being a Director Sports of the PTVC have to host the shows is a question that only the sponsors could answer. I won’t comment on the quality of the content, which was seen skeptically by the blogger, since it remains his choice to like or dislike what he hears on the channel. Quizzical it is that despite being irked and wary of the content and happenings on PTV Sports he has been following it all. It must be his favourite waste of time?

I must admit that due to inevitable reasons, strict adherence to timings becomes an issue and that needs to improve. Barring KICK OFF that had attracted ratings during the FIFA World Cup 2014 and Journo Eyes, none of the shows have ever been significant on the charts, or with the sponsors. However, these shows even the Sports Climate are integral part of the Fixed Point Chart of the channel. Their timings were often changed not on the ‘whims of the Director’ but due to preference of live content acquired at higher rates and as per the policy of the channel or to accommodate a sponsored programme.

To the blogger’s utter disillusionment and dismay it must also be told that PTV Sports’ revenue since its launch in January 2012 has not only grown progressively but massively. I won’t be revealing the numbers; nonetheless, it must be mentioned that the net revenue that was earned in the first six months of its airing, increased by 3.5 folds in the next fiscal year. In 2012-13, there was a slight dip due to ICC Champions Trophy being lost to rain. It boomed again in 2013-14 and has further increased in 2014-15.

To further depress the blogger it must be told that PTV’s investment during the ICC World Cup 2015 programming returned with revenues that were twenty times more. It’s the revenue generated that provides the incentives. PTV Sports has the largest inventory in Pakistan, in terms of the rights of airing, which have been acquired and the progression is ceaseless.

Sometimes we are criticized with no justification. This is a painful experience. One option is to remain aloof and ignore it completely. We should feel that false criticism is as insignificant as an ant trying to harm an elephant. If we remain silent and detached, the criticism is given no energy. If we feel the necessity to fight it – in a way, we give it more importance than it deserves. But facts had to be brought on the table. Now let’s do the talking.