Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC)

Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) is Pakistan’s public service media company. It started as Radio Pakistan in 1947 and was renamed Pakistan BroadcastinG Corporation in 1972.

Media assets

Radio: News & Current Affairs Channel 24/7, FM 101, FM 93, Dhanak FM 94

State Media Matrix Typology: State-Controlled (SC)

Ownership and governance

PBC was established through the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation Act of 1973. The corporation was created as a limited liability company fully owned by the government. PBC operates as a department in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The highest governance structure of PBC, the PBC Board consists of government-appointed members. All 11 PBC members are appointed by or represent various state institutions: the chair position is filled by the secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, four members representing each of Pakistan’s four provinces are appointed by the Federal Government, one is the director of the media and PR division of Pakistan’s army and the rest are also government appointees. One of the members is PBC’s general director who is appointed by the Federal Government.

Source of funding and budget

PBC operated in 2018 with a budget of PKR 5.5bn (US$ 34.5m), according to the latest data available, released by the operator in December 2019. More than 94% of that amount was represented by a grant-in-aid from the federal government, with the remainder coming from ad sales revenue. The broadcaster is often faced with financial shortages, which forced the station to sack hundreds of employees in 2020.

To help solve such problems, the Pakistani government in July 2023 added a license fee to the electricity bill that each household pays in Pakistan to raise revenue for PBC. With the television fee, households now pay a total of PKR 50 (US$ 0.17) a month radio gets PKR 15 of that).

Editorial independence

PBC has for years been known as a government mouthpiece, its editorial coverage being closely controlled by the government and its censors. However, following the 2018 elections that brought to power Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government led by the Prime Minister Imran Khan, a series of measures aimed at relaxing the environment for freedom of expression were taken. One of them was the decision to lift the editorial censorship at all state-run media, including PBC.

That hasn’t lasted long. The following year, the government was slammed by media freedom NGOs for suspending privately owned television channels. Echoing reports from international media watchdogs, local journalists say that in the past year the state of the media freedom in Pakistan has worsened so badly that journalists are probably having the worst time in the history of the country.

Although PBC has not explicitly been recently characterized as editorially controlled in various independent reports on the state of editorial independence in Pakistan, in spite of promises by the Prime Minister made two years ago, PBC continues to be closely controlled by the government. Especially when it comes to sensitive coverage, PBC is fully in line with the requests made by the army.

There is no domestic statute and no independent assessment or oversight mechanism that would validate the independence of PBC.

September 2023