Among the long list of organizations that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) promised would be “put right” under its rule, Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) ranked as a major one. A great fanfare was made about letting the state channel be “independent” to form its own editorial lines, new marketing managers were hired at corporate rates, and a revival was foretold to be just around the corner. However, far from a return to the glory days, PTV has been put up on the chopping block, its funding cut, and left to fend for itself. Unsurprisingly, the state broadcaster finds itself in the depths of a financial crisis, facing an account deficit of more than Rs 20 billion a year.

It is quite shocking that despite un-paralleled governmental access, peerless facilities, a household brand name and a vast budget, PTV hasn’t been able to find popular success or profits over the decades. The same nepotism and bureaucratic bloat that characterizes the national airline, PIA, is found in the PTV offices. Yet instead of seeking to fix these problems the government has decided to simply disinvest itself from the responsibility of making PTV prosper.

Condemnable as the PTI behavior is, the response of the PTV board is even more condemnation worthy, and emblematic of the callous policymaking that is sweeping the state. The PTV wants the public to foot the bill for its failure – Rs 20 billion a year. This method is as crude as it gets; a big blanket increase in the “TV license fee” to be collected by adding it to the electricity bill. No one has the option of opting out, even if they don’t own a TV.

This practice of generating revenue by lazily dumping more fees and tariffs on the public is cruel and unsustainable. The people are already buckling under jacked up bills – no more.