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Introduction to Mass Communication

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The electronic media was well known in Pakistan after independence in 1947. Not only radio
broadcast was being made from Lahore and Peshawar but it was growing steadily.
Although the world at this point of time was familiar with a black & white television broadcast, particularly
in the West and the USA, TV seemed a remote possibility in the newborn country.
From the early 60s there had been a talk to start television broadcast in Pakistan. Planning continued and
various departments prepared their reports about the feasibility of a complete TV broadcasting station.
Main obstacle in setting up a TV station was not the money, but non availability of the technical staff which
must run the broadcasting house on sound footings. The efforts continued, however, and bore fruit when
on Nov 26, 1964 country’s first TV station was set up in Lahore.
By this time TV had advanced to color transmission in a number of countries, the PTV was a B/W version.
Nonetheless the enthusiasm of starting a TV broadcasting house was overflowing and the staff – both on
the technical as well as programming sides, showed determination to make this venture a success. No one
would have imagined at that point of time, that this small box would bring a revolution in mass
communication in this part of the world where other means of mass communication were proving relatively


Watching the moving images at your drawing room was a real treat. TV sets were not frequently
available in the markets and the ones available for sale were expensive and only the rich could afford the
cost of getting a set. A status symbol it was to have a set indeed. Relatives and neighbors would gather
around the box much before the broadcast. Women would finish cooking early and the students would do
their homework well before the TV would start playing its typical signature tune and showing its insignia.
The first sight of the announcer was cheered and voices were raised to call others to come as it has started
. It is irrefutably difficult to forget those moments of history by the ones who had witnessed them. It
was not limit to household activity; TV transmission was also watched at the monitoring rooms of
newspapers for getting the latest from around the world. Sometime a snap of some very interesting footage
was also had, though picture so taken lacked in quality.

Evening Transmission only

TV broadcast was limit to five hours, from 6 pm to 11 pm with one weekly holiday on Monday.
People would sit in front of the set from the signature tune, women would finish household errands,
children doing their homework much before the first images of the day, usually recitation from the holy
Quran. Hardly a person would move away till the national anthem was played to mark end of the day’s
transmission. Due to the immense interest for watching the moving images and the restricted timings of the
transmission, the work-schedule of many was now changed.

Live Broadcast

The most prominent feature of PTV’s early years was the live transmission for it did not have the
recording facilities. It was not the news to be read in real time only, but the talks, plays and music was also
broadcast live. It was a unique experience for all the directors, producers, performers and the technical staff.
Hardly one can imagine now that there had been such an exceptional time in PTV’s life.
Many radio artists seemed moving to and fro between radio station and the PTV building next door to accomplish the task of
live transmission and rehearsals.

PTV and the unforgettable War of Sept 1965

The September 1965 war with India was a testing time for the whole nation. Nothing was above
the country’s defense. The PTV Lahore station did the heroics it still gets credit for. Its OB teams went to
the borders and captured some incredible images of the battlefield. Nothing more could have excited people
seeing with their own eyes Pakistan Army’s jawans invading Indian posts, destroying them and capturing
enemy’s land across the border. With madam Noor Jahan’s spirited national songs in the backdrop, the
PTV’s showings worked as a catalyst to fuel the passion for national defense.

National Microwave Network

A major breakthrough was achieved in 1973 when all the TV stations in the country were linked by
a microwave network, enabling live telecast of different programs which helped the PTV save time and
money. Now a drama at Lahore station could be watched by viewers in Karachi and Islamabad at the same
time and similar transmission from Karachi could be made for the upcountry stations. This facility was fully
exploited at the time of Lahore Islamic Summit of Feb 1974. The Karachi and Rawalpindi stations, which
were functioning since 1967, were linked with the live coverage of the events from Lahore. It was due to
PTV that at one stage it looked as the whole nation was involved and a part of the unprecedented events of
the summit. From Shalimar Gardens civic reception to saying prayers at the historic Badshahi Mosque, and
from the public meeting at the Qaddafi stadium – also addressed by Libya’s president Col Qaddafi, to the
business meetings at the Punjab Assembly floor was a great job done by the PTV in a commendably
organized way.

PTV goes colored

Though the Islamic conference coverage was very successful, many thought it would have been far
better had it been a colored transmission. Another reason to do away with the black and white broadcast
was that in most part of the world the TV transmission was getting colored and companies were now not
making parts for the equipment used in the B/W transmission. The day came soon when in 1976
COLOUR TRANSMISSION STARTED on experimental basis. Regular Color transmission started from
Feb 18, 1982.

More Developments

1987 – Federal TV centre at Islamabad commissioned.
1992 – Second TV channel for education commissioned.
1996 – Local area transmission from four (4) stations started.
1998 – Transmission of PTV world programmes started.
Ptv-1 - Area covered: 38%, population covered: 86.48 %.
Ptv-2/ Ptv World - area covered: 24.19 %, population covered: 55.83 %.

Dramas – the source of strength to PTV

PTV excelled in broadcasting various programs – news analysis, talk shows especially for the youth
and entertainment purposes. But what earned it distinction was its drama production. To mention a few;
Aik muhabat sua afsanay
Alpha bravo Charlie
Alif noon
Sona chandi
Khuda ki basti
Dhoop kinaray
Another area where TV in Pakistan has been a major source of entertainment is the coverage of sporting events. From the
times of making special arrangements to show live boxing bouts of all time great Muhammad Ali to all major sporting
activities these days, PTV keeps people glued for hours to watch sports of their interest
. It also brings business to TV.

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