We are living in interesting times in Pakistan. The electronic media has progressed by leaps and bounds. Few years back, hardly ten years, we only had PTV to get our official version of almost everything. And we got our details and background stories from the print media a morning after the event had already taken place. PTV being the governmental entity, it would only provide the version of the news which suited the government. Print media tried to be independent but the penalties were severe. So, it is difficult to say and I would not blame them. Everybody has their limitations.
When we talk about today, nothing is missed by these journalists. They talk about almost everything, point to all the difficult issues, and their cameras roll, rain or shine. This is very different than what we had few years back. Over these years, the journalists have also learned hard way. They made sacrifices, personal and professional. Some had even laid down their lives for truthful reporting. If I am not wrong, the number of journalists died in the line of duty in Pakistan is the highest in the world. During last years of Musharraf’s dictatorship, some news channels were banned for a while. And some of these anchors paid a price with their jobs.
Normally, the entertainment sector on TV is beneficial and the news channels lag behind. However, in Pakistan, our news channels are thriving big time and entertainment sector is lagging. In our prime time tv shows, the highest rating goes to all these current events’ programs. This speaks volume about the Pakistani public. How much interest do we have with politics and how keenly the public is keeping an eye on the politicians? The way they speak and what they speak will matter in their opinions about that particular politician and the political party. Since politicians are invited in most of these current events’ programs, they also have to keep themselves abreast with the events in the country. This provides them a very valuable exposure and free publicity. So, they also have to keep themselves educated about the happenings in the country.
Fortunately, in Pakistan, we have good number of news channels available. The channel surfing is the norm. The talk shows are pretty popular here. The anchors are quite educated and they try to present the true picture and point out to issues in the country. They invite different politicians from various political parties to present their point of view.
Most of these news channels are available on satellite. So Pakistani immigrants living in other countries also keep a close eye on almost everything in Pakistan. Some have even mentioned that the last thing they do before going to beds is check the Pakistani news channel on satellite and the first thing is also checking Pakistani news. This facility wasn’t available few years back.
The World Wide Web is also helping spreading the message. All these news channels have their websites and they are continuously updated. Their programs are put on the net in their entirety. So nobody misses the beat with these channels. The internet used to keep me busy over the weekends while I was out of the country and I went over any programs that I might have missed during the week.