Challenges before Electronic Media Channels in Pakistan.

 
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Byline: Asim Bashir, Zubair Shafiq, Farzana Arshad and Naudir Bakht

Introduction

There is a boom in electronic media in Pakistan. Field of Electronic Media is getting tremendous growth day by day. All channels are crossing the difficult destinations successfully. Electronic Media has been converted from Governmental custody to private custody. Media channels are emerging not only year by year but month by month. Media has become the watch dog over all institutions. Media is educating the Pakistani nation by numerous means and media has become a very important source of information especially in rural areas. Crimes are decreasing due to the liberty of the electronic media. The viewers of the channels are enjoying full freedom and media has become influential tool in Pakistani nation's lives. Media has converted the Pakistan into global village and media does not spare the governmental institutions as well as the judiciary and even intelligence agencies, Different companies have increased their channels up to six and government belief about media freedom is positive.

Currently media popularity may be considered as a fourth pillar of state in Pakistan and people are consuming their precious time in watching and listening the different analyses and talks made by the senior journalists and analyzers. Ratio of the vote casting is increasing since the media got freedom and there is a PEMRA to control over all activities of channels of the electronic media in Pakistan. Clash between the educated and uneducated citizens in Pakistan, can be observed in workplaces conducting discussion on different political issues. Women journalists in journalism field are working shoulder to shoulder with men journalists in Pakistan and electronic media is providing knowledge to the nation on different walks of life. World press freedom day is celebrated on 03-May to raise the importance of the freedom of the journalists. 1 Media is teaching the head of the institutions how to run their relevant departments.

On the one hand the recognition of the Pakistani electronic media is "Free and Independent Media" but on the other hand, it is not as free as it should be. The transmission of the independent, free and transparently working media is banned by pushing only one button by powerful authorities. This process is repeated again and again. Broadcasting is suspended of all national and international news channels. Media is threatened to stop to play its role to educate the nation. Curbs are being established on media's independent coverage, and media workers are threatened with blame to "Show the Truth". Media professionals are being blamed on the given points,

* Yellow journalism.

* Media is not observing self regulation.

* Media channels are trying to compete in number game rating.

* Media may be considered as liberalized in sensationalism.

* There are a number of media groups that are blamed having affiliation with political parties.

* Right to freedom of expression has become controversial in Pakistan.2

Challenges

When media workers are kidnapped and after then, they are murdered while performing their professional duties. Their dead bodies are found after some days of kidnapping in graveyards and they are arrested, jailed. When journalists are murdered in any city of the country the witnesses are murdered too. Pakistani rulers insult to the journalists in public places and their offices are raided, ransacked. They are publicly flogged, and their families are threatened by numerous ways. Women journalists are faced discriminative behavior. Media sincerity is blamed by state institutions saying that "Pakistani media is well wisher for Pakistan's enemy country (India), instead of Pakistan. In this way, the media voice is kept silent. All channels, specially Geo channel is forced to run its popular program "Capital Talk" on the roads instead of news room, Journalists are called out from their houses and gunned down due to unveil the corruption in the society.

Journalists are murdered by the powerful groups due to unveil the rigging in elections, militant areas become no-go-areas for media. Media equipments are destroyed, and emergency is imposed by the rulers. Whole media activities are censored, and Media is faced collectively threats by numberless groups like (Governmental, Militants, Political, Ethnic). Free media is crushed not only under the shoes of dictators but civil rulers perform same package, and free media of neighboring country India insults the banned and censored Pakistani media in his programs. The whole media is pushed in a cage by issuing a letter consisting of some lines in the form of "PCO". 3 Global electronic media has significant importance in providing truth to its viewers. Media workers in the world are in problems. According to the international media watch reports, Pakistan is ranked as a most dangerous and deadliest country for journalism among these countries in the world.

The list of the fallen journalists compiled by the committee to protect journalists, (CPJ) provides evidence that journalism in Pakistan is not easy job. 4 With these given above circumstances, we may say that there are lots of challenges before electronic media in Pakistan and Pakistani electronic media is not free to work.

Types of Challenges

International reports prove that electronic media faces a number of challenges in Pakistan.

Techniques by which hurdles are created

* Can "blackout" the transmission by suspending the signals of channel.5

* Can pressurize the PEMRA to fine on the channel.

* Try to get favorable decisions by PEMRA.

* To pressurize the cable operators to fix the channel on the last numbers (from first 10 to the last)

* To freeze the picture with the help of cable operators

* To block the voice while the photo image can be seen

* To create blockage in transmission again and again.

* To block the transmission in many areas of the city by cable operators.

PEMRA (Banning Authority)

The Government of Pakistan is the primary banning authority to ban on transmission of any channel. The Government uses the tool of PEMRA to ban on the private T.V channels, because PEMRA is an institution that watches and controls over all activities of any channel in Pakistan. It has been observed that when non-democratic Government bans on the transmission on any channel the leaders of the opposite political parties condemn the activity by dictatorship, but when a democratic Government gets power and forms government oath, the same activity is repeated by the democratic Government too. When anyone holds power, he bans the transmission but when he becomes powerless, he condemns the ban on any channel. When the Government of the General Musharraf banned on Geo news channel, the leaders of the political parties condemned the ban but after the Musharraf Government the same activity was repeated by the Government of the Pakistan People Party (PPP).

Structure of Cable Operators

To understand the structure of the cable operators is much important to understand the problems of electronic media channels. The structure of an electronic TV channel has numerous work lines. That structure is the backbone of the channel transmission and the structure of the cable operators helps to enable the channel transmission to the audiences. These operators have established their own private setup everywhere in the country. They have developed their private structure in permitted areas. Someone has wide area, while someone may has short area. Mostly these areas are divided according to the areas of union councils. Each cable operator has setup dish antennas system that receives the waves moving in the air. It may be said that each and every area in the country depends on the cable operators to watch a channel. (Many rich people have set their own dishes on the roof of their homes).

According to the PEMRA rules, that most popular and top rated channels are advised to set their channel in starting numbers from 1 to 20. The Geo is the top rated channel and it should be set in starting numbers in the whole country but obeying the orders of the PEMRA the cable operators set Geo on the last numbers that may by greater than 50. Geo bears the loss in two ways. The users lose their right to watch the reality and truth. The Geo bears the income loss in shape of the commercial publicities. The message is delivered to the nation by the powerful authorities that they were supreme in the country. The user's electronic media in the state become blind about truth. In Pakistan, democracy is not powerful instrument. Democratic institutions and democratic behaviors are not in power. To show the truth to the people becomes a crime. The democratic or nondemocratic rulers don't bear the criticism on government.

This is the tool to pressurize the voice of freedom. The blame is imposed on the administration of a T.V channel that they had established a parallel government in the state.

Transmission is banned to go On-Air

There is a major challenge that media transmission is blocked by powerful authorities. It is the right of any registered TV channel in PEMRA list, to carry on its transmission without any hurdle. It is the right of the masses to enjoy the transmission of any TV channel freely, but sometimes transmission of any TV channel is banned by the competent and governing authority due to different reasons. Geo has been banned by the government several times since its emergence. The ban is imposed not only on the transmission but also on all its programs as well as on anchors, journalists performing professional activities in that channel.

It is important to discuss the nature of work of the electronic media. The main object of the media is also to analyze the activities of the different institutions like judiciary, parliament, forces, and the department that is performing activities in the state. Another main object of the electronic media is to deliver the different...

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