Pakistan Media Crisis: Facts and Myths

Why are Pakistan media groups laying off employees and shutting down TV channels? Is it caused by Pakistan government cutbacks in advertising? Is it part of the PTI government's alleged efforts to censor media? Or part of the long overdue industry shake-out after almost two decades long un-interrupted media business expansion?

Pakistan Ad Spending. Source: Aurora/Dawn


How much was the Nawaz Sharif led PMLN government spending on advertising? Did Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi increase media advertising budgets to buy favorable coverage at taxpayers' expense?

Are Pakistan government and national security establishment unique in wanting to manage media coverage? Do Western government manage media as well? If so, how? How do their media management techniques differ?

Global Advertising Growth 2016. Source: Magna

What is the future of media in Pakistan as the Internet penetration grows dramatically with 1-2 million more people coming online each month? Will greater spending on digital ads change journalism in Pakistan? Will more journalists take to social media and other online platforms as business?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Sabahat Ashraf and Riaz Haq.


https://youtu.be/Nz1axuB5j-Q





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

FMCG Growth in Pakistan

Is Media Free?

Pakistan Retail Sales Growth

Advertising Revenue in Pakistan

Pakistan FMCG Market

The Other 99% of Pakistan Story

PSL Cricket League Revenue

E-Commerce in Pakistan

Fintech Revolution in Pakistan

Mobile Broadband Speed in Pakistan

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
The U.S. Has Been Named as One of the Deadliest Places in the World for Journalists

http://time.com/5483773/us-deadliest-countries-journalists-deaths-2018/

Two narco-states, a near failed state and the U.S. These were among the deadliest places to practice journalism in 2018, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which added the U.S. to the worst offenders list for the first time in the annual roundup’s 23-year history.

The home of the first amendment ranked in the top five most lethal countries for members of the press, behind Afghanistan, Syria, Mexico and Yemen, while tying with India.

Six journalists lost their lives in the U.S. over the past year. Four, as well as a sales accountant, were brutally killed when a gunman opened fire on the Capital Gazette newsroom in June in the deadliest single attack on the media in recent history. Two other U.S. journalists, a cameraman and TV anchor, were killed by a falling tree in May while covering a storm in North Carolina.


Hostage-takings, imprisonment and disappearances all increased. In total, RSF recorded 80 journalists killed this year, 61% of whom were targeted in retaliation for their work. Another 348 were detained, and 60 held hostage.

“Journalists have never before been subjected to as much violence and abusive treatment as in 2018,” the press watchdog said in a statement.

While RSF named Afghanistan the deadliest country for journalists this year, with 13 deaths, 45% of the worldwide murders the group recorded occurred outside of conflict zones. These included the high-profile killings of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and Slovakian data journalist Ján Kuciak. Their shocking murders, as well as the high number of cases in which reportage led to prolonged incarceration, such as with Myanmar journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have demonstrated “the lengths to which press freedom’s enemies are prepared to go,” RSF said.

The group’s findings underscore the rising animosity journalists across the world encountered in the past year, a problem that has been enflamed by world leaders’ and politicians’ invectives against the media, including the frequent “enemy of the people” salvos fired off by President Donald Trump.

“The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” said Christophe Deloire, RSF’s Secretary-General.

“Amplified by social networks, which bear heavy responsibility in this regard, these expressions of hatred legitimize violence, thereby undermining journalism, and democracy itself, a bit more every day,” he added.

In a separate report issued Wednesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists found the number of journalists killed in reprisals for their work nearly doubled worldwide compared to 2017. As of Dec. 14, at least 34 journalists were singled out for murder.

The New York-based organization said the uptick in killings, combined with the sustained high number of jailings, adds up “to a profound global crisis of press freedom.”

Last week, TIME recognized four journalists and one news organization targeted for their work — Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and the Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md. — as the Person of the Year.
Riaz Haq said…
The Pakistan government’s financial squeeze on journalism

https://www.cjr.org/analysis/journalism-pakistan.php


By Umer Ali


“It is the worst financial crisis the media industry has seen since it was liberalized,” Afzal Butt, the president of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, says. (Pakistani broadcast media, previously under the exclusive control of the government, was in 2002 opened up to private ownership.) But the financial paralysis of news outlets has not been entirely a function of the market. It has been a direct result of the government’s recent austerity measures.

Over the summer, the government—the biggest source of advertising revenue for media organizations—stopped paying what it owed. “News media in Pakistan, despite knowing its drawbacks, still rely heavily on government advertisements and subsidies,” Saroop Ijaz, Human Rights Watch’s Pakistan reporter, says. At the time, the cut-off was seen as part of a broad effort by Imran Khan, the cricketer turned politician who was elected prime minister in August, to slash government expenditures.


Yet many journalists and free-press activists believe the motivation was more sinister. In their view, the government has attempted to financially squeeze dissenting voices among the news media. “It’s not like a flash flood that caught townspeople by surprise,” Butt says. “It’s a properly planned crisis orchestrated by several state organs.”

Pakistan’s government has stifled reporters and other critics before. Other methods have included arrest, prohibitions on leaving the country, abductions, and violent attacks. Pakistan’s military, which wields significant influence over civilian matters, “quietly, but effectively, restricts reporting by barring access, encouraging self-censorship through direct and indirect acts of intimidation, and even allegedly instigating violence against reporters,” according to a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Around 60 journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 1992, and CPJ estimates that the military, government, or associated political groups were responsible for half of those killed in the past decade.

Matiullah Jan, an Islamabad-based television journalist known for his pro-democracy views, was among the first victims of the layoffs this fall. Previously, he says, officials would directly threaten journalists to gag criticism—something Jan believes he experienced last year, when two men on motorbikes pulled up next to the vehicle he and his children were traveling in and smashed the windshield with a rock. “Now they are using sophisticated methods to trigger a financial crisis,” he says.

In addition to limiting advertising, Jan explains, the government can attempt to bring down networks’ ratings by shuffling channel assignments—making shows difficult to find—or pressuring cable operators to take critical news channels off the air (both of which happened to Pakistani TV network Geo this spring), or limiting circulation of certain newspapers.

One of the newsrooms that believes itself to have been targeted by financial suppression is Dawn, Pakistan’s largest and most respected English-language daily paper. In 2016, Cyril Almeida, a reporter for Dawn, reported leaks from the proceedings of a national security council meeting, during which the government confronted military leadership over inaction against certain terrorist groups. “Dawn leaks” became a major political talking point, and led Pakistan’s information minister to resign. During a government-commissioned inquiry into the matter, Dawn editors refused to name their sources, and Almeida was temporarily barred from leaving the country. Since then, the paper claims, government officials have choked the paper’s circulation, barring its distribution in several cities and military cantonments, special zones across the country that are controlled and managed by the armed forces.
Riaz Haq said…
Journalist Saleem Safi accuses #PMLN and #NawazSharif of corrupting #Pakistan #media with "Lifafa" (Checkbook) #Journalism in #Pakistan. #Lifafa #corruption https://youtu.be/YoqA_W0qJ8o via @YouTube
Riaz Haq said…
ISLAMABAD INSIGHT: THE STATE OF THE MEDIA
Unlimited Greed Brings
Pakistan Media Under
Overdue Scrutiny, Much
Needed Axe
Shaheen Sehbai

THE LAST DECADE or so has seen
the Pakistan media, especially the TV
guys, grab immense power and
unmatched notoriety while making tons
of money, mostly undeserved.
All this was done, in most cases, while
blatantly flouting basic media ethics.
Some media houses had actually
started believing and publicly claiming
they were kingmakers and could make
or overthrow any government.
Not so anymore. The 2018 general
election saw this media role at its best,
or probably the worst.
Ruling politicians and greedy business
tycoons who fraudulently acquired
massive government lands, contracts,
favours and kickbacks, dumped billions on the media believing that it will
shield them from the law and from all sorts of accountability, if ever it
happened.
They were wrong. The day of reckoning will come so soon, no one had
imagined.

The people of Pakistan threw up a new leadership in 2018 and broke the
iron-fist hold of political/business mobsters who were holding the country
hostage for years.
Most importantly national institutions finally realized the danger to the
country and stood up firmly to play their role.
The army and the judiciary joined hands with desperate citizens to
challenge the deeply rotten status quo for the first time and rightly so.
As a result a new set up came into power and now details of how the
politicians, tycoons and the media gurus gobbled up billions are emerging.
Since Imran Khan’s PTI was not a partner in this mammoth national
crime, it has no hesitation in releasing these details. Mindboggling figures
are available.
Only the government media advertising was upwards of Rs50 billion. Big
business houses dished out many more to buy the screens and selfproclaimed important people sitting behind these small screens.
The media was up for a grand loot sale.

Since the story thus emerging is about its own dirty linen, the media would
never have told it. Thanks to the social media the shackles have been
broken and information is now flowing freely.
Starting with the electronic media, as it has grown out of proportion and
way too big for its shoes, one official list recently came out showing the
rates at which 36 news TV channels were receiving ads from the
government.
While the full list, issued by the Information Secretary, is available on the
social media, a quick look shows Geo News was getting the highest rate of
Rs290,500 per minute, Dunya TV was receiving Rs270,000, the seven
channels getting Rs245,000 each were Abb Tak, ARY, Express, Roze
News, Samaa, 92-News and Hum News. News One got Rs240,000.
Others rated over Rs200K included: 7-News (227.5K), Lahore News,
Sindh TV, Neo News, KTN News, Khyber News, K-21, Dawn News, Din
News, City-42, Capital TV, Apna TV (210K each).
Waseb TV had a rate of 190K, Business Plus (182K), Aaj News,
Channel-24, Channel-5, Royal News, VSH (175K each), Such TV (147K),
K-2 (140K), Star Asia (130K), GNN (122K), and the lowest 105K going to
Punjab TV and Mashriq TV. Public TV was not yet rated.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan #digital #media a threat to broadcast industry. Digital media will soon be replacing broadcast media in #Pakistan. Pak digital media credited for taking up issues that are not covered by #broadcast or #print media which adhere to different rules. https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/04/opinion/pakistans-digital-media-a-threat-to-broadcast-industry/

Last year, one of Pakistan’s most watched television news channels, Waqt News, shut down, citing financial reasons. Tribune 24/7, an English-language news channel owned by Express Media Group, one of Pakistan’s largest media conglomerates, fired more than 100 employees and shut down in a similar fashion. The fact that two news channels owned by two of Pakistan’s most well-established media groups shut down abruptly was a warning sign that more channels might shut down in the future and that digital media are set to replace Pakistan’s broadcast-media landscape.

However, what really frustrated Pakistan’s broadcast industry was when emerging digital-media outlets got the opportunity for an exclusive press conference with Finance Minister Asad Umer. This did not sit well with broadcast journalists, and they criticized the press conference and referred to digital-media journalists as “social-media activists” and “Asad Umer’s social-media team” among other things.

But their frustration was not actually regarding being unable to score an important press conference, but the fact that digital media are the future and will soon be replacing broadcast media in Pakistan. The broadcast media are engaging in an “us vs them” debate as described by the website Bolo Jawan, which commented that they are being threatened by the rising trend in digital media and, because of the financial crunch in the country, when it comes to the broadcast-media landscape, things do not look promising.

Pakistan’s digital media are credited for taking up issues that would not be otherwise covered by broadcast or print media as they adhere to different rules. This does not necessarily mean that the digital media are entirely free from restrictions, as attacks on journalists and those associated with the media are common and digital media do not get any special privileges either. Despite that, Pakistan’s digital media have touched upon topics that have often been considered taboo, such as the debate regarding the blasphemy law, normalizing relations with Israel and LGBTQIA rights. This has not saved digital media from any criticism, since Pakistan is a highly conservative country religiously and culturally, but debates regarding such topics are something the digital media need to be credited for.

There were about 44.6 million Internet users in Pakistan in 2017, with an Internet penetration rate of 21.8%. Those numbers are expected to rise in coming years. It might look like a dark future for the state of the broadcast industry, but in order to keep up with the rising trend of digital media, broadcasters must quickly immerse themselves in the country’s digital-media landscape, as print did when broadcast media were a new phenomenon. The broadcast industry does possess the resources to do so, but if it fails to take steps, people serving in that industry will suffer, and no amount of criticism of digital media will be able to save them.


Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan electronic media regulator auctions 70 licenses for #satellite TV: 8 new channels in #news category, 27 in #entertainment, 12 channels of #regional languages, 12 in #education, 5 in #sports, four in #health and 2 in the #agriculture category. https://www.dawn.com/news/1479795

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Wednesday initiated an auction at its headquarters in Islamabad for the issuance of 70 more licences for satellite TV broadcast stations.

The auction will continue until tomorrow during which licences will be auctioned in seven categories — news, current affairs, education, sports, health, entertainment and agriculture.

Representatives from 187 companies have been participating in the auction.

According to the details, licences for eight new channels will be offered in news category, 27 in entertainment, 12 channels of regional languages, 12 in education, five in sports, four in health and two in the agriculture category.

As many as 21 companies participated in the open-bid round for auction of eight licences for news and current affairs. Out of the 35 companies pre-qualified for the auction, 14 didn't take part. Al Kamal Media Private Company placed the highest bid in the sector at Rs283.5 million.

Pemra Chairman Saleem Baig inaugurated the auction. In his speech, he said that 70 licences will be issued today. He hoped that each TV channel would provide livelihood to a large number of people.

He said that the authority works in consultation with all stakeholders. Currently 88 local TV channels and 227 radio channels are being operated in the country. He said that eight Internet Protocol TV licences have been issued, besides one DTH which is expected to be operational soon.

The Pemra chairman expressed his hope that today's auction would be held in a transparent manner.

Out of the total 70, 47 licences in three categories — news and current affairs, entertainment and regional satellite TVs — will be auctioned today.

The base price for news and current affairs TV licence has been fixed at Rs63.5m, entertainment TV licence at Rs48.5m, and regional at Rs10m. The successful bidder will have to submit 15 per cent of the bidding price today.

Pakistan Broadcasters Association's objection
A day earlier, the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) had criticised Pemra's decision to conduct an auction without taking up a petition filed by PBA against the proposal.

The association has now appealed to the prime minister to intervene and stop the process. According to a press release, the PBA had filed the petition in compliance with an order of the Sindh High Court.

“The present cable network in Pakistan is based on the analogue system, which has a capacity to carry a maximum of 80 channels at a given time. But since Pemra has already issued 121 licences for satellite TV broadcast stations, at least 40 channels cannot be aired," it read.

“Therefore, issuance of more licences will put a large number of channels off the air, resulting in irrecoverable losses to the media industry at a time when it is already suffering due to the economic slowdown,” the press release said.

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