Part I: Media – Our Friend or Foe?

By Muqeet Tahir Malik

 

Media, a word that evolves an imaginary television in our brain encompassed by multifarious forms of audio, social media and video. Have you ever thought about the concept of free media in Pakistan? Can media be called a friendly fourth pillar of democracy? How far has media been a player in non-kinetic warfare? How has it widened the citizen-government consanguinity through the rat’s nest policy? How can media ownership issues have severe implications?  Media is instrumental in world affairs more than ever before and these days it plays a dominant role in shaping public opinions, promulgating agendas on important issues. However, media has had a negative role after it was granted independence from government control.

The many channels of media.
The many channels of media.

We always tend to hear that our culture is vulnerable and unliquidated to a western lifestyle. A plethora of cultures lives in this land of the pure, but the electronic media has never advocated for them. Cultures such as Kalash and Saraiki have existed since thousands of years, however, media acts as a catalyst in shaping our fashions and supports westernized trends. Our channels are in a race for maximisation of profits, which makes them measure their ratings based on a foreign yardstick. Pakistan was formed on the fundamentals of two nation theory- a separate state for Muslims. Albeit, our new generation is losing sight of its roots, this is mainly owing to our media’s portrayal of foreign values of food, hair styling and language etc… It can be related to the Indian dramas being telecasted as they highlight a certain way of life that people would become accustomed with rituals and traditions such as basant, dholkis, shopaholic, and revelatory. Today, our children know about Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Gandhi, but they don’t know much about Jinnah, Major Aziz Bhatti, and other heroes of Pakistan. Urdu as a language, comes with such rich literature, is now considered inferior to English Language by the vices of a superiority complex. In our primary to high school system, English is a status symbol and read with great pride and care. However, on news channels, English words are spoken and written in Urdu, with the wrong pronunciation by anchors thus, hopelessly trying to integrate the languages. Media does not advocate for research in Urdu, since as all major programs use English mostly. An English word emergency is pronounced as eemergenci when the words of both languages are combined by electronic media. It seems as if two cultures are amalgamated with each other on channels and people are not groomed to live with equal statuses. Children can easily acquire English language from cartoons, movies and books, whereas Urdu is taught by coercion. Urdu is considered as a language spoken by and illiterate class in comparison with English. Unfortunately, parents push their children as well to speak English even at home. To make Urdu fascinating, an effort should be made in translating cartoons or at least producing new dramas for kids. Burqa Avenger was indeed a success. Urdu is the binding force for Pakistan, therefore it is vital that it plays a part in its development. A major setback of our media is that they have failed to find the correct approach. For example, in clothing our national dress is sherwani with turban or a Jinnah Cap, however these days they have become a rare sight.

 

Social interaction has reached a new height in Pakistan. Media is rapidly increasing, and through it is inducing some implications for our identity and daily life. Unfortunately they seem to be weakening our hallmark of community bond, which is fading away as quickly as termites destroy wood. A major part of it constituted of dining culture which has changed. Nowadays, dinner time is the prime time for media, thus people eat in their own rooms. Rather, than mingling with family, they choose to be cooped in rooms to watch television. Dramas are telecasted from 8 to 9 and news bulletin afterwards. Consequently, it enlarges the gap between our younger, and older generation leading to incompetent leadership. We can seek assistance of experienced elder people for formulating budget.  Since they saw how Pakistan had evolved since its birth and had sustainable planning done in all sectors.

Social listening has changed.
Social listening has changed.

There also has been an issue of media ownership, which is imperative in formulating any uniform editorial policy. About 70 to 120 million Pakistanis are viewers of private news channels, therefore, we have to contemplate into the dilemma of these channels. Owners are the harbingers of media as they broadcast their political, economic and social agendas. I was bewildered to know that Pakistani businessmen who own channels have invested in multi sectors such as Geo Television. Jang group owns an entertainment, sports, drama and a breaking news channel. Without a doubt, there must have been recurring profits that enabled them to expand.

 

On the contrary, Pakistan Television (60 years old) still has not spewed as much as other media groups. Albeit, PTV is state sponsored television, GEO TV has a huge influx of funding from foreign non- governmental organizations. It was corroborated from the media commission report of the Supreme court, categorically stated “. This results in the creation of sensationalist news reporting with creating an atmosphere of excitement (negative mostly and positive) thereby translating into increased TRP’s.

 

A more perplexing thought is that the commercialization is becoming a major factor in the sustainability of media growth. Commercialization is fundamentally the huge influx of advertisements, and exhibition of short brand driven stories shown on television. Now, it is looked upon as a rebellious tool and Pakistani media has evolved into a threatening giant. The major constituent of damage owes to so called economic boom directed towards the investments in media. Anyone that has sustainable financial position to run a channel also has the ablity to make oodles of money using the commercialization phenomenon as a tool.

 

Unfortunately, these advertisements depict us as western lifestyle people. For this purpose, companies like Q -mobile hire Bollywood artists to represent their brand. Astonishingly, Katrina Kaif was paid Rs.2 billion for appearing in the Q -mobile promotion. Likewise, Kareena kapoor has also been endowed much but the question rests, are there not enough actors or actresses in Pakistan? Such a trend, further provides a chance for the extremist to flare up and annihilate people by luring them with religion.

 

In Part II of this article the rest of the media friend or foe thoughts will be discussed.

 

Muqeet Tahir Malik, currently pursuing a degree in cvil engineering from Military college of Engineering ,Risalpur, NUST. His passion is to write well, and groom himself as a creative person who will be an asset for his country (if he goes into civil services) or becomes a part of Pakistan’s Finest. He tweets @muqeetmalik1996.