Where did Geo, Media, PEMRA and the Government
Go Wrong?
Refer to Constitution and PEMRA’s Code of Conduct?
The matter has...
1
Where did Geo, Media, PEMRA and the Government
Go Wrong?
Geo News has become an unfortunate casualty of the untimely and...
2
indicates that the institutions are partially leaderless and “disrespect for the process of law” is order of the day. It...
3
National and international media have insisted without any evidence that some of the journalists have been even
murdered...
4
in Karachi, who are the extortionists and who are the leaders of the crime mafias across the country?
The bottom-line is...
5
Country-wide displeasure on the chunk of GE’s Morning Show:
What happened?
In GE’s morning show on wedding ceremony of
c...
6
Operators Association on the subject resulting in not
only appeals for boycott of GTN’s channels, the
cancellation of it...
7
What was expected?
Two institutions of the country “were” expected to
quickly look into the matter, listen to or go thro...
8
In my excerpts from a research paper, “The Last Word,” I had discussed five casualties and 8 outcomes of war
against ter...
9
Programmes: - (1) No programme shall be aired which;
(a) passes derogatory remarks about any
religion or sect or communi...
10
newspaper groups and channels of television networks to identify the officials and anchors who frequently ridicule
the ...
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Where did geo, media, pemra and the government go wrong

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The matter has become more serious to not single out only channels of GTN but make it compulsory for all television networks and their channels to make sure that no producer, host, anchor, actor, actress or participant in any program intentionally or unintentionally ridicules the constitution of the country and violates the PEMRA’s Code of Conduct in any way.

For that to happen it is proposed to convene a conference of media owners and PEMRA officials to resolve the disputes, settle the issues and make a pledge not to air contempt for religion and religious groups and show disrespect for Islam, country’s armed forces and sensitive institutions.

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Where did geo, media, pemra and the government go wrong

  1. 1. Where did Geo, Media, PEMRA and the Government Go Wrong? Refer to Constitution and PEMRA’s Code of Conduct? The matter has become more serious to not single out only channels of GTN but make it compulsory for all television networks and their channels to make sure that no producer, host, anchor, actor, actress or participant in any program intentionally or unintentionally ridicules the constitution of the country and violates the PEMRA’s Code of Conduct in any way. For that to happen it is proposed to convene a conference of media owners and PEMRA officials to resolve the disputes, settle the issues and make a pledge not to air contempt for religion, religious groups and show disrespect for Islamic teachings and country’s armed forces and sensitive institutions. 2014 Zahid Hussain Khalid Written for his blogs on Slideshare, WordPress, Facebook and LinkedIn 5/23/2014
  2. 2. 1 Where did Geo, Media, PEMRA and the Government Go Wrong? Geo News has become an unfortunate casualty of the untimely and ill-advised on-screen reaction to highly condemnable inhuman attack on Hamid Mir followed by a serious pre-content preparation judgment error of Geo Entertainment’s Morning Show’s team compounded by two immediate fall-outs: 1. The failure of Geo’s management to initiate prompt damage control initiative by acknowledging the blunder of pointing finger at ISI chief; and 2. Either the negligence or the arrogance of those at helm of the affairs to foresee the possible opening of a number of war-fronts against Geo Television Network (GTN). The troop-formation against GTN and the supporters of GTN is now very clear. This troop-formation is a very distressing reflection of the dis-configured system of corporate and political governance in Pakistan. It also
  3. 3. 2 indicates that the institutions are partially leaderless and “disrespect for the process of law” is order of the day. It will be, therefore, appropriate to see what happened? What was the immediate reaction? What was expected? What is happening now? And, what needs to be done? Attack on GTN’s anchor person: What happened? On 19 th April a senior anchor person of GTN was fired at, wounded and hospitalized. The brother of the wounded anchor person, referring to his brother’s apprehensions, alleged that ISI and its Chief were responsible for the attack on the anchor person. This was the breaking news! GTN flashed the allegation and not only that, the resignation of the Chief of ISI was also demanded by an investigative journalist of the group! The on-screen reporting to the extent of allegation against ISI was not the violation of PEMRA rules. The premature incrimination and demand of the resignation of ISI chief was! Resignation from any individual holding a public office is demanded only when the allegation against him is convincingly proved through a laid down process of inquiry or court’s proceedings. It was expected that GTN could justifiably seek benefit of professional error of judgment. Did GTN acknowledge that error of judgment? GTN did not do that and still it is, may be for legal implications, reluctant to do that. The aggrieved party, that is, the Chief of ISI has the right to simply ignore the allegation and forget about it in his personal capacity. But does he have the right to forgive it as the Chief of ISI in his official capacity? This is where the reputation and image of the Pakistan’s armed forces demands a serious consideration, analysis of and also an appropriate action on the matter. It is alleged on media every now and then that the country’s intelligence agencies are involved in the disappearance of the people from different parts of the country. It is also reported that senior reporters, journalists and even owner of a group of newspapers and network of TV channels were allegedly picked up and tortured by the staff of ISI.
  4. 4. 3 National and international media have insisted without any evidence that some of the journalists have been even murdered by the staff of the ISI. If all the allegations and reports are correct then what are the answers to following questions: Do the staff members of ISI who pick up the journalists and manhandle as well as torture them disclose their identity and names to the surviving journalists? Obviously, they don’t do that. Do the journalists often interact with the staff members of the ISI who according to them are involved in kidnapping and torturing of the journalists? Are the claims of a group of people who kidnap journalists, beat them up and torture them that they belong to ISI ever thoroughly probed and investigated by journalists? Did it occur to any one of the aggrieved journalists that the perpetrators of the crime may belong to any one or more than one of the more than half a dozen intelligence agencies working in and around Pakistan? What about Raymond Davis who killed two Pakistanis and got away with the murder? Can the journalists identify the persons who kidnap them, humiliate them and torture them? If the answers to above questions are in affirmative then why any of the journalists has not registered any complaint with either the office of the Chief of Army Staff, police or taken the matter to court nominating the accused? Even if they did that: what is the outcome and who is responsible for the delay in proper investigation or dispensation of justice? Why the world famous journalists and anchors have failed to identify and name the culprits behind their kidnaping and humiliation? True professionalism is reflected in the proceedings and outcome of the inquiry on the murder of Daniel Pearl. If the culprits of Daniel Pearl can be brought to justice why can’t the culprits involved in atrocities against and murder of Pakistani journalists? The answer is professional incompetence of both journalists as well as law enforcement agencies! How can they identify and name the culprits when they have, with all their resources, expertise, contacts and sources so far failed to credibly report, beyond mere allegations, who are the target killers
  5. 5. 4 in Karachi, who are the extortionists and who are the leaders of the crime mafias across the country? The bottom-line is: Allegation cannot be treated as conviction. GTN’s employees alleged that attack on its anchor person was by the staffers of ISI and held the Chief of ISI not only responsible for that attack but demanded his resignation too! Was it journalism or in Carl Bernstein’s words “Gutter Journalism” in “Idiot Culture!” The senior management of GTN failed to understand the seriousness of the trouble they had invited. What was the immediate reaction? The aggrieved party, that is, the Chief of ISI had the right to simply ignore the allegation and forget about it in his personal capacity. But did he have the right to forget and forgive it as the Chief of ISI in his official capacity? This is where the reputation and image of the Pakistan’s armed forces demanded a serious consideration, analysis of and also an appropriate action on the matter. The seriousness of the allegation of the involvement of ISI and it’s chief in the attack on a journalist-cum-anchor was so embarrassing for the ISI Chief and the army commanders that not only the Army Chief had to personally go to the office of the head of one of the most sensitive wings of the armed forces to practically display his solidarity with him, an emergency meeting of the senior army commanders was also convened at GHQ to formally convey the displeasure to the office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan and demand appropriate remedial action. The ministry of defense wrote a letter to PEMRA for action against GTN. That was a civilized response from a country’s responsible institution.
  6. 6. 5 Country-wide displeasure on the chunk of GE’s Morning Show: What happened? In GE’s morning show on wedding ceremony of controversial actress Veena Malik a religious Manqabat was inappropriately used as a usual “wedding song.” This was apparently an error of editorial judgment for which the management of GE repeatedly apologized. Unfortunately the story did not end there. Was merely an apology sufficient? What was immediate reaction? It is very uncomforting to point out that some morning shows in Pakistan have become a window for the display of such ceremonies which were never part of Muslim culture. How these shows ridicule the Islamic principles of social equality can be noticed from the formats; set designs; sponsored dresses of the anchors, brides and grooms; most of the time meaningless contents; mostly non-serious participants; and flashy props which are used to glamourize over-consumerism and contextual packaging of non-seriousness in an economically polarized and over-segmented society. Marriage ceremonies have become the most salient regular feature of morning shows. These shows promote high-value mehndi, wedding and valima dresses, expensive make up kits, glittering jewelry and other items of use by brides and grooms, mostly use Indian songs, dances and Hindu traditions, and invite film and TV actors and actresses as guests and even bride and grooms like Veena Malik and her husband. In reaction to GE’s objectionable chunk of morning show a competitor unethically and repeatedly flashed the part of program as blasphemic and telecast a series of interviews with Ullemas and officials of the Pakistan Cable
  7. 7. 6 Operators Association on the subject resulting in not only appeals for boycott of GTN’s channels, the cancellation of its licenses and submission of more than three dozen appeals for registration of cases against the owner, anchor and production team of the programme. Thousands of complaints were addressed to PEMRA for the cancellation of the licenses of GTN channels. GTN unfortunately has an alleged history of disrespect for Islamic teachings and way of life contrary to Mir Shakil- ur-Rehman’s personal unquestionable faith in God and his deep-hearted respect for Islam. I am personally witness to that because when I met with him for the first time in November 1978 he had given me a book on Islam and Science to read which he had found very interesting and also referred to many paragraphs of the book during the conversation. On another occasion, knowing that I had invited wrath of enemies due to my anti-corruption drive in Jang and successfully knocking its competitors out for good, he asked me to always keep Prayer Beads or Tasbeeh with me. Having said that, I have no reservations on categorically stating that majority of GTN’s employees at responsible positions are either totally unfamiliar with the basic teachings of Islam, they scornfully show their disgust for anything religious and that is strongly reflected in GTN’s programs and campaign on education reforms also. What surprises me the most is the fact that Aamir Liaquat Ali, being the vice president of GTN, hosted two disgustingly cheap programs contextually unworthy of his portrayed status like Ramzan Transmission and Ina’am Ghar, a shameless copy of Neelam Ghar, both of which were totally in conflict with Islam’s basic principles of austerity, simplicity and in line with unjustifiable over-promotion of Western consumerism which is seen with contempt even in the West now. It is unbelievable to think that such a person, holding a responsible position in an institution of the stature of GTN, does not have even the minimum requisite ability to understand how the contents of a television program negatively or positively influence the sentiments and behavior of viewers not only in Pakistan, any Muslim country but across the globe. Unfortunately story did not end there.
  8. 8. 7 What was expected? Two institutions of the country “were” expected to quickly look into the matter, listen to or go through the complaints of the aggrieved, discuss the behavior of the senior management of GTN and come up with a solution or the verdict and those two institutions “were”: PEMRA and the Judiciary. PEMRA has been clearly split into two groups: one for and the other against any action against channels of GTN. There are two other options: The withdrawal of the complaint by the ministry of defense and reconciliation between media groups at war with each other. The offices which were supposed to make that happen were the office of the minister of information who holds the office of the minister of law also and Pakistan Broadcasting Association (PBA). The minister of information and law has unceremoniously lost his neutral status to do that by first going to UAE - with a columnist of Jang Group who is now advisor to Prime Minister with status of a federal minister - for meeting with MSR and then issuing a statement against the cable operators without taking the sensitivities of the issue into consideration. PBA is nothing but silent spectator. Proceedings in Judiciary will, in any way, commence only after PEMRA decision either in favor of or against GTN. The only office left to intervene now is that of Prime Minister and he finds himself in a very odd position! He can neither annoy the Chief of Army Staff, ISI Chief, army commanders nor afford the animosity of the staff of GTN and Jang Group by either showing leniency to GTN or recommending action against the Geo News and GE respectively. What is happening? The people are watching an on-screen media war between leading television networks. The sympathies of PML-N are with GTN and allegations and counter allegations are exchanged between Geo and Imran Khan also. There is another segment of analysts, commentators, columnists and journalists who are blaming the religious groups for adding fuel to the fire.
  9. 9. 8 In my excerpts from a research paper, “The Last Word,” I had discussed five casualties and 8 outcomes of war against terror. The first casualty to me was and still is, “… our respect for Islam. It is noticed in almost all English daily newspapers and certain TV channels that the editors, columnists, contributors, reporters, commentators and anchors due to their visible lack of Islamic knowledge often unintentionally and mostly intentionally use remarks which hurt the feelings of the Muslims who know the teachings of Islam as clearly as they know themselves.” It is very strange that whenever someone indulges in an act prohibited in Islam, a particular group of journalists, analysts, anchors, commentators and columnists starts accusing the religious groups for reacting to it, coming out in the streets for protest, fanning religious sentiments and preparing ground for agitation. Is it justified? What needs to be done? It will be appropriate to draw the attention of the representatives and spoke persons of less than 0.10 percent so- called enlightened, moderate and secular population of the country in media - a majority of of whom was previously proud communists and is now temporarily converted to capitalist Americanism - to the following few lines from the preamble of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan: “Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone and authority to be exercised by the people of Pakistan within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust”; “And whereas it is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order”; “Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom equality, tolerance and social justice as enumerated by Islam shall be fully observed”; “Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in Holy Quran and Sunnah.” What the GTN’s production team presenting on screen was in line with what the preamble of the constitution of the country emphasizes? What does the PEMRA’s Code of Conduct for Media Broadcasters or Cable TV Operators say on this matter?
  10. 10. 9 Programmes: - (1) No programme shall be aired which; (a) passes derogatory remarks about any religion or sect or community or uses visuals or words contemptuous of religious sects and ethnic groups or which promotes communal and sectarian attitudes or disharmony; (i) is against basic cultural values, morality and good manners; (p) contains material which is against ideology of Pakistan or Islamic values. Was producer of the program and the executive producer aware of the above three PEMRA rules? In an article on my blog, “Malala Mishap and Global Media Scenario in Retrospect - Taliban and Pakistan,” it was stressed that “Religious scholars rightly state that there is no compulsion in DEEN according to the teachings of Islam. They, however, fail to point out that this statement is applicable to non-Muslims only. The non-Muslims cannot be forced to embrace Islam. But the Muslims are ‘essentially required to form groups of people who watch and guide the Muslims to strictly adhere to the teachings of Islam and refrain from their deliberate violation’.” So all those channels who encourage participants of their programs to vomit venom against religious groups on their channels not only ridicule the very founding principles of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, they knowingly and intentionally violate PEMRA’s Code of Conduct also. In a situation like this the matter has become more serious to not single out only channels of GTN but make it compulsory for all television networks and their channels to make sure that no producer, host, anchor, actor, actress or participant in any program intentionally or unintentionally ridicules the constitution of the country and violates the PEMRA’s Code of Conduct in any way. For that to happen it is proposed to convene a conference of media owners and PEMRA officials to resolve the disputes, settle the issues and make a pledge not to air contempt for religion and religious groups and show disrespect for Islam, country’s armed forces and sensitive institutions. It is also necessary as pointed out in an earlier article to thoroughly, confidentially and critically review the career profiles and on the job as well as on and off-screen performance of the senior management officials of all
  11. 11. 10 newspaper groups and channels of television networks to identify the officials and anchors who frequently ridicule the preamble of the constitution of the country with reference to religious groups and disqualify them for working, writing for any newspaper and appearing in any television program permanently. PEMRA and the government both have to put their foot down and make that happen on war footing! More Articles and presentations on the subject here: http://www.slideshare.net/19540201 The State of Electronic Media in Pakistan Malala Mishap and Global Media Scenario Electronic Media’s Performance in A Country in Search of a Way Out of the Mess In Retrospect Pakistan The Future of Entertainment & Media in a Hyper-Connected World Re-Inventing Print Media: Country Model – Pakistan Re-Fixing the Fixed Point Charts of TV Channels Zahid Hussain Khalid has worked for national and international media groups not as a journalist but a marketing practitioner, researcher and analyst. He successfully initiated and completed the assigned managerial and country tasks for such publications as Arab News, Financial Times, Jang Group, Euromoney magazine, Petroleum Economist, South China Morning Post, Asiamoney magazine, Innovation Management and Hong Kong Standard and Forbes Inc, Forbes Global, Forbes Europe, Forbes Asia. He will always remain thankful to Mr. William Adamapolous and Mr. Steve Forbes of Forbes Inc and Mr. Tony Shale CEO, Euromoney Institutional Investor Group (Jersey) Limited for their personal encouragement and support in initiating and marketing Pakistan-specific innovative integrated media packages for investment promotion. He also worked as Associate Producer, Current Affairs, Pakistan Television Corp. His articles have appeared in the Weekly Akhbar-e-Jehan, Daily Jang, Daily Mashriq, the Nawa-e-Waqt and daily The Muslim on social, economic, political, diplomatic and military subjects which are available here http://zahidhkhalid.wordpress.com/ and here http://www.slideshare.net/19540201 He had co-produced more than hundred episodes of the most popular weekly program “Hafta-e-Rafta” and was nominated for Best Producer’s award for documentaries on Afghan Refugees and Year of the Aged. His work reflects a visible difference because he strongly believes in innovative approach in everything that he does. He was co-owner of International Media Sales from 1991 to 2012 and is owner of SUN&FZ Associates since 1994.

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