It was 2005 (or may be 2006). Indian cricket team was in Pakistan for a bilateral series. Everyone in Pakistan wanted to witness the contests, preferably in the stadium, but unfortunately I was in my village. So live telecast of those matches was the only hope for me. I checked, and found out the channel ARY had bought the telecast, and I was very happy since I had ARY service on my satellite tv. But at the last moment, ARY ditch me. They stop the free feed, and only the cable operators could show their matches. Now, PTV, the state owned Pakistan Television was the next option I found out. I was excited again.
First one day international, around 10:30 in the morning, my wife and I sit anxiously in front of tv, both of us being avid cricket fans, to witness the 'clash of the titans' or whatever the fancy tag line was line was. Match starts, and to our utter disgust, every three balls PTV started showing an advert, and an extremely loud one. That was ridiculous, rather ridiculously irritating. But what do we do? No other choice. Stuck with it, cursing Pepsi for doing this to us (those were Pepsi ads, with the loud anthem yeh dil maange aur, yeah right!). It got so annoying after a while that we turned off the tv. We were disappointed, angry, or even worse, hearth broken, no seriously, we were. It was India-Pakistan clash after all. I thought of calling authorities at PTV, but my wife laughs at the idea. I'm more annoyed. I open their website and find out the phone numbers. I decide to call the Manager Marketing (or something like that). I call him, tell him the problem, and not very surprisingly, get a very cold response, trademark of any government institution in third world . No problem. I'll call an authority higher than him. I call a Director this time. Again, a response even colder. He infact misbehaved too. I remember he told me that he wasn't my father's servant. In English, it might sound like an impotent one liner, but in Urdu it carries a punch, enough to make you so angry that you could really punch the person back on his face. Ask any Indian or Pakistani if you don't believe me.
Anyways, what do I do now? Let's call MD PTV, I think. I dial. His PA picks up. Asks me who I was and why I was calling. I tell him that I was an ordinary Pakistani and that I wanted to talk to MD about a problem. He then inquires about the problem, and I tell him. He seems surprised and asks me to hold on for a moment. I do. After a few minutes, a more surprised PA tells me, that 'MD sahab baat karein gai.' MD is finally on the other end of the line. I tell him how irritated I was because of an advert every three balls and how it had ruined my experience. I also tell him how I was (mis)treated by his men when I talked to them about the issue. He listens to me patiently. When I'm done, he asks me if he could say something now. He starts with thanking me, for I was the first ever PTV viewer (according to him) to have called him directly for a complaint or even otherwise.. Then he talked about how it was very expensive to buy telecast rights from ARY, and that they had paid a hefty amount, only for people like me, so that we can enjoy cricket. I argued, what's the point of paying such huge sums for me, when I don't watch the match because it was made unbearable, and I was sitting with a blank screen in front of me, irritated. He conceded that I did have a point, and promised that he'll look into it and will try to do what he possibly could. He thanked me again, and apologized for the behavior of his subordinates.
Both, my wife and I, were sure that nothing would happen, for this is Pakistan we are talking about, an institution run by Pakistan government to top that. It's Pakistan where authorities have no regard for what people want. They are least bothered about your concerns, and wouldn't really give much weight to your complaints. We have now accepted that as rule of thumb that those in the government, or bureaucracy are definitely deaf, if not dumb.
But guess what? 20 or so minutes later, the annoying Pepsi ad that they were showing every three balls was gone. No more. Just like that.
Can you believe that?