The news of the entire ‘Mazaqraat’ team switching to Samaa after their more than 10-year stint at Dunya News has made waves. While some may find this to be significant news for some it raises ethical concerns and reflects an unprofessional approach.
Dunya News has distinguished itself by producing exceptional programming during the 11 pm slot, a feat unmatched by any other news channel. Shows like Hasbe-Haal and Mazaq-Raat have become iconic and garnered the highest ratings.
It is important to acknowledge that the success of these programs was not solely due to the actors and writers, but also the platform and creative liberty provided by Dunya’s management.
A similar experience can be observed with Aftab Iqbal and his team, who were the main attraction at Express News but failed to recreate the same success when they moved to Neo TV.
Samaa TV, once known for its refined news coverage, superior newsroom, balanced programming, and positioning as a top-tier channel, underwent changes after being acquired by Abdul Aleem Khan, a politician and real estate tycoon based in Lahore. With the induction of columnist Akram Chaudhry as a consultant to the Chairman, a close friend of Aleem Khan, the channel’s image began to shift.
Initially, the news department underwent significant changes, followed by overhauls in the digital and programming sectors. Whether for better or worse, Mr. Chaudhry had complete authority to bring about these transformations.
During the last few months Samaa has made considerable efforts to produce a show akin to Hasbe-Haal and Mazaq-Raat, making significant investments but unfortunately failed to attract viewers.
Ahmed Butt was enlisted to host a show called ‘Super Over’ to counter his friend Wasay Chaudhry of Mazaq-Raat, but it had little impact, despite creating a special hefty set in a film studio.
More recently, TikToker Momin Saqib was hired to host a show called ‘Had kar di’ in an attempt to compete with Tabish Hashmi’s show ‘Hansna Mana Hai’ on Geo News.
However, this decision also proved to be ineffective and failed to capture the attention of the Pakistani audience.
The question arises: Who is responsible for these immature decisions? Has the Director of Programming resigned in light of these issues?
In a desperate move, Samaa TV has now lured the entire Mazaq-Raat team away from Dunya News, reportedly offering them double the salary packages. Is this a fair deal? Ethically and professionally, it seems highly questionable. Money cannot buy everything.
Ayub Khawar (the show’s writer), Wasay Chaudhry (the host), and Muhammad Hashim (Executive producer) of Mazaq-Raat, along with all the stage artists on the panel, have made the move.
Is this a positive gesture? Is it a wise decision? Why are we offering packages that exceed what they deserve? Aftab Iqbal’s previous actions have already disturbed the financials of the market, and this move will further harm the entertainment industry.
It is crucial to consider the economic conditions of Pakistan and the financial challenges faced by television channels. Simply depending on real estate-funded and financially abundant channels is not sustainable. We need to grasp the industry’s standards and adopt a realistic approach.
By: Imran Malik