Byline: Qurrat-ul-Ann Malik, Aniqa Ali and Ayesha Sadaf
The aim of the present research was to examine the extent of public awareness created as a result of TV content promoting social change and to find out whether such content promotes dialogue amongst the viewer's leading them to provide support for pro-social change. In this regard; the perception of the television drama serial "Udaari"was analyzed which aired on Hum TV from 10/04/16 to 25/09/16. The play can be considered to be a classic example of Entertainment-Education drama as defined by Singhaland Rogers (1999)1 who suggested that such content is designed and implemented for the purpose of educating as well as entertaining so that there is an increase in the knowledge of the audience members about an issue.
Greenberg et al. (19892) pointed out that television is considered to be a primary source of awareness-raising about issues ranging from the environment to health. The drama under consideration was purposely developed to promote pro-social change and contained two primary messages, firstly recognizing child abuse and bringing the perpetrators to justice and secondly encouraging female economic empowerment.
The influence of interpersonal communication on drama has been found to be a very effective method for awareness-raising as compared to information without any story in it (McGill and Joseph, 1996)3. Further, though issues like child abuse are condemned by the society in general but no specific measures can be taken as it is a taboo topic for discussion. Research has shown that child abuse within the home and immediate surroundings (Abel and Harlow, 2001)4 is the most common kind yet the issue is kept under the wraps and is not discussed.Similarly, financial matters are not discussed with women leaving them without any knowledge which would be of benefit for them. This indicates the need to analyze whether the drama has generated effective public dialogue which can be a true indicator of the increase in awareness about these sensitive issues.
When state Television was launched in Pakistan in 1964 as Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV), the objective was to educate the viewers about the values that are necessary for building a "united, integrated and disciplined society"5. Throughout the history of PTV various attempts have been made to create awareness about social issues through entertainment education drama. The first attempt of this kind was the play entitled "Taleem-e-Balighan" which was aimed at promoting adult literacy. In the early days of PTV many such plays were aired.The first attempt at a collaborative effort for creating entertainment-education content was made in 1991 with the drama serial "Aahat"(approaching sound) which was sponsored by John Hopkins University, USA andfocused on the desire for sons in a middle income family and the resultant problems for the entire household(de Fossard and Lande, 2008)6.
The play was an instantaneous success which led to the next attempt at creating entertainment educationthrough the play entitled "Nijaat" (Salvation) in 1993 with the same objective of introducing family planning.
The drama serial "Udaari" was aired on the popular entertainment channel on a primetime weekend slot. The play was a collaboration of Kashf Foundation which is the first micro-finance initiative of its kind in Pakistan (Oxford Policy Management, 20067) as well as the Hum TV's own production house, Momina Duraid Productions8. The play was written by a leading playwright Farhat Ishtiaq and directed by Ehtishamuddin. The play also featured a popular well-known cast including Bushra Ansari, Ahsan Khan, Samia Mumtaz, Urwa Hocane and Farhan Saeed.
There were two parallel storylines, the primary E-E messages were about a widowed woman Sajidawho marries to secure her own and her daughter Zebo's future but it is her new husband who starts to sexually abuse her young daughter. When Sajida finds out the truth she runs away to the city and starts a catering business with the help of a small loan to stand on her own feet. These two themes were the primary messages in the play. In order to make the story more commercially viable two more themes were added one a romance between a popular onscreen couple and an ever popular rags to riches story where a village singer Meera who is ostracized because of being a "Mirasan"(hereditary musicians in villages) is discovered and her beautiful voice makes her a popular singing sensation. As the play is set in rural Punjab, the title of the play "Udaari" is a Punjabi word meaning "flight" and is meant to refer to the Sajida's flight to freedom and Meera's flight to stardom.
Various names have been given to the activity where media is used to deliver educational persuasive messages through any of the entertainment media such as info-tainment, enter-education, edu-tainment, pro-social, pro-development as well as Entertainment Education (Brown and Singhal, 1993)9.Further, Singhal and Rogers (1999) suggested that such messages also create a favorable attitude, shift societal norms and also help in changing behavior patterns. In order to use the media to solve problems faced by humanity or to improve life quality, it is important that the mass communication strategies being used for development are successfully implemented.
Social learning theory is often utilized to look at E-E programming particularly on television (Brown and Singhal, 1999)10. Bandura (2004)11 links social learning with EE by suggesting that such content puts forward models of behavior which can be positive or negative and also presenting the consequences of their actions. Further, these presentations startdialogues and discussions which can lead to individual, communal or social level change.The social learning theory developed by Bandura (1986)12 pointed out that individuals learn their behaviors from multiple sources which also includes' mass media. He further stated that the social learning process goes through a specific sequence involving four steps of attention, retention, production and motivation. Also, the media provides us with models to guide behavior in advance of actual experience.
According to McQuail (2010)13 the social learning theory posits that the media plays a conformist role whereby the media do not put forward a pro-social or anti-social message but rather favor the persisting socio-cultural norm. However, Smith et al. (2006)14 found that a significant portion of TV content (73%) contained some positive message. Similarly Newcomb and Hirsch (1983)15 also observed that most TV content even humorous content contains references to larger social problems. Also, it is not just the producers who have hidden some kind of meaning within the content but it is mainly the audiences who take the content and create their own meaning and receive their own message.
Entertainment is perceived as being un-important and non-serious, which can bring about no significant change in the lives of the audience members and only takes up their time. However, Entertainment-education (E-E) is not tainted with this impression and is credited with a great amount of change in the lives of the audience members (Singhal and...