Downfall of Pakistan’s news media industry?

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During Musharraf era Pakistani media got their maximum growth and many channels mushroomed but the future of channels was not clear. There were two main sources of the income for the channels; one was Government business and the other was commercial clients or in other words private clients. As all Governments wanted to highlight their development works done so channels were getting good business from Government. Punjab Govt. and Sindh govt always were the big spenders during the last 10 years. Shahbaz Sharif’s government in Punjab was a symbol of development works in Punjab and their advertisement was as vital too. In Sindh, there was no big development comparing with Punjab but their advertising budgets were as high as Punjab’s budget.

Since the last 2-3 years, the Government business was in full boom as election year was coming so they were spending millions and millions on TV in order to get voters’ attention. Some channels even hired teams to manage Government business as well as to pull maximum budgets from elections campaigns. Top rated channels got maximum business during to their political tilts but all channels had fat bellies till the formation of new Government in Pakistan. PTI Government came in to form and till date, no media campaigns are on from Federal Government as well as from Provincial Governments.

News channels are down-sizing, salaries are getting delayed and unpredictability is looming in our media industry these days. No Government budgets, no media activity results in no salaries. Met almost 2-3 media persons daily and all were complaining of toughest times in the media industry. A sales executive of a news channel was telling that he got his salary after a long wait of 4-months. He said the management has down his four months salary and he never knows when would he get his next salary. The other executive was sharing that he is getting half salary since last two months and when he tried to protest the admin suggested him to resign; which I instantly declined and opted for the half salary.

Despite knowing the bad times of Pakistan’s media industry still, channels are coming with huge investments; recently Gourmet News Network, Public News and GNN TV launched in news category and not getting the desired business as predicted. Some resources claimed that even new channels are down-sizing due to heavy investment in News genre. Renowned journalist Aftab Iqbal is also launching Aap News (Urdu) and Indus News (English) in the next couple of weeks. Najam Sethi, Sana Bucha, Ejaz Haider, Abdul Rauf, Imran Mir, and Aneeq Naji are some big names have joined Aap Group. The question is, will these channels get success in the months to come if the Government still holds their Advertising budgets and if the economy of Pakistan doesn’t prosper?

Some newspapers have reduced their pages from 16 to 12, some have reduced the font size just to control on extra printing expenses as there is a drastic dip in the Government business of the newspapers. APNS and PBA are the regulatory authorities for print and electronic media but sadly they don’t come up with the solutions related to down-sizing and delayed salaries of the workers. Problem is most of the representatives of these regulatory agencies are the owners of the channels/newspapers so the workers of the respective institutions get the least importance. Anchors have become the superpower of the channels with hefty packages and channels have more concerns to making them happy than the lower staff.

So one can only hope that the media industry will come out from this turmoil very soon and lower staff of channels will get prosperity one day.

 

Blog by: Imran Malik

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