Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Taking a bow and saying thank you to PTV

Published Apr 07, 2018 02:22pm
PTV’s starring role in the development of the advertising industry.
Photo: Arif Mahmood/Dawn White Star
Photo: Arif Mahmood/Dawn White Star

Say what you may about PTV today, but there wouldn’t have been an ad industry without PTV.

PTV pivoted the Pakistan ad industry into a sizeable existence in 1964. TV across the world had a similar impact – especially in markets where public broadcasting allowed advertising to coexist. Many of us at the time thought that the advertising on PTV was ridiculously expensive; furthermore, we had very little knowledge of how to produce a TV ad. Many people also said that a poor country like Pakistan would never be able to afford a luxury like PTV and that it would remain the entertainment of the elite before it eventually died.


From its inception to the time its monopoly was broken in the nineties, PTV brought a great deal of discipline to the industry. Although most of us complained about the lack of ‘flexibility’, it was PTV’s uncompromising stance on advertising at a certain rate that boosted ad expenditure.


Such views grossly underestimated the power of mass broadcast as we know it today. By 1996 (within four years), PTV was reaching 40% of the population and by the mid-seventies, PTV had not only added colour to its broadcast, but it also had the ability to reach 75% of the population – extended to 90% within a few years.

This level of reach is considered impossible in today’s world, and at that time, led to transformative growth in consumer culture and advertising spending. Aslam Azhar should be crowned the father of mass advertising in Pakistan.

Advertising creativity learnt a lot from the mass audio-visual culture PTV was developing. Kamal Ahmed Rizvi, Tariq Aziz, Khawaja Moinuddin, Shoaib Hashmi and Saleema Hashmi taught the industry how to tell stories on the small screen and the impact of their work can be felt even today. These founders created what has become our unique style of storytelling; be it dramas on TV or advertising.

From its inception to the time its monopoly was broken in the nineties, PTV brought a great deal of discipline to the industry. Although most of us complained about the lack of ‘flexibility’, it was PTV’s uncompromising stance on advertising at a certain rate that boosted ad expenditure. We never thought we would say this, but we need to take a bow and say: “Thank you PTV” for what they built for us. 

Asad-ur-Rehman is leading Unilever’s Digital Transformation & Media in Middle East/North Africa. The views presented are his own.

First published in THE DAWN OF ADVERTISING IN PAKISTAN (1947-2017), a Special Report published by DAWN on March 31, 2018.