TV IN PAKISTAN
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
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
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
now. It is irrefutably
difficult to forget those moments of history by the ones who had witnessed them.
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.
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 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
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.
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:
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
Khuda ki basti
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.