Monday, November 12, 2007

R.I.P. AAJ Tv?

There are reports coming in - i.e. someone who works at AAJ has called a colleague - that PEMRA (Pakistani Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) has cancelled AAJ Tv's license and Director of News and talk show host Talat Hussein has been taken into custody.

There has been constant pressure on AAJ, Geo and ARY to sign PEMRA's newly amended PEMRA "Code of Conduct" - as per which, all electronic media outlets (TV Channels and Radio Stations) are prohibited from 'criticising' the Pakistan Army, members of the Judiciary and the Head of State.

Police had earlier
raided AAj Tv's offices in Islamabad while Talat Hussein spoke to Daily Times about "constant pressure" from the government stating that “the government wants us to sign the code of conduct under duress before they allow the channels to go on air.”

Till now TV One, Rang TV, Din News, Khyber News, Apna Channel, Kook, Sindh TV, KTN, Business Plus, CNBC, Indus News and Punjab TV have signed the amended Code of Conduct. Which leaves us with GEO, ARY, AAJ TV, DAWN News and Rohi TV (?) as non-signatories of the Code of Conduct (source:
The Post).

The financial pressures on the media outlets are huge and its only the truly large media conglomerates who can sustain such a challenge. At the same time it is the large media conglomerates who have the most to lose, a company like GEO with 5 operational channels (and a staff in the hundreds) have already lost millions. (

It then comes as no surprise that there are unconfirmed reports that ARY has now relented to government pressure and its broadcast will be resumed soon.
International news channels such as BBC, CNN, FOX, Sky and Al-Jazeera also remain banned; the ban on these channels had temporarily been lifted but that only lasted for about 2 days.


Ahsan said...

presumably the geos and aajs of the world will still be transmitted through satellite, right? i think the market (both legal and illegal) will have the final word on this one. here's what i'm thinking:

pakistanis in general have fallen in love with this new media stuff, specifcally geo, aaj and ary. if these channels broadcast out of dubai (i know geo and ary can broadcast from abroad currently...not sure about aaj) then that will drive up the demand for satellite decoders as people will view foreign feeds because they miss real news. this in turn will morph into illegal channel "sharing" on a neighborhood scale (and nothing bigger because then it would be easy to get caught) with enterprising cable wallah types looking to make a quick buck. eventually people will, through the internet and satellite, end up watching what they used to anyway.

there are only two disclaimers to make however. one, poor rural villagers will not have access to this the way they have since 02/03. that is unfortunate. two, it remains to be seen whether or not the govt will start cracking down on the channels' *reporters on the ground* if the situation i described develops. in other words, "well we can't cut you off from the source, so we'll cut you off on the ground." this obviously won't effect sports/drama shows etc, but it will effectively kill their news coverage.

Ali Kabir said...

Ahsan the government seems to have read your mind; there was a masive, nationwide, crackdown on the Satellite Dish market. Its no longer possible to buy satellite dishes, well, let me rephrase that as its always possible to buy anything in Pakistan; it will just have to be done through a Bootlegger.

Just imagine waiting for hours under Clifton Bridge for 'Salim' to turn up with a Decoder, or the 'latest' digital card.

Or how about driving around phase 5 waiting for 'the call', pulling upto a shady car, and getting handed a satellite dish, in a brown paper bag of course!

Ali Kabir said...

Oh and SKY News and FOX News are back on the air. I guess that Rupert Murdoch must have friends in high places!

Fox I understand - it has no reports or interest in Pakistan but Sky has been reporting on Pakistan non-stop. In fact SKY had the best coverage of the 18th Oct bombing in Karachi, bar none.

Interestingly Sky is also VERY pro-Benazir; and on its one report on Pakistan, FOX and Friends also talked of Benazir's courage.

I'm laughing as I think of that Fox news report; it was just so cheesy and dramatic and so terrible. It started of with that in your face music, then mellowed as Fox and Friends looked pensive -this was a real Anchor Man moment -
the dialogue after this pregnant pause was as follows:

Fake Tan says "Benazir Bhutto, the former democratically elected prime minister of Pakistan, could face death if she continues with her protests and calls for democracy."

The Blondie pipes in "Ms. Bhutto has courageously stated that she would rather face death than stop"

Fake Tan "That's courage"

Blondie "Yeah, Courage"

Another pregnant pause:

Blondie "And in other news, Black families are complaining about Hispanic students and the growing of Spanish by teachers in American classrooms"

Ahsan said...

if there's one thing i have unadulterated faith in, it's the black market in pakistan. the need for news will be met, one way or another.

Arif said...

I have been wondering why Talat Hussain's program has not been broadcast on AAJ. He, unfortunately, might get hit the hardest. Ironically, Musharraf's first TV interview after May's Karachi violence was with Talat.

I've watched Talat's program regularly since early this year. Everyone has their bias -- but Talat has constantly been a voice of reason and national reconciliation.

In the end, Musharraf has chosen the danda over smart PR. And it will, most likely, prove to hit him back.

Ahsan said...

i too am a fan of talat hussein though i don't always agree with him (particularly his stance on the lal masjid fiasco). he's an eminently reasonable journalist; intelligent and fair too. but because he's become such a superstar over the last 12-16 months, his (valid) criticisms of those in power grated those in power, especially so because he had such a vast audience. so it's no wonder that he, as you say, has been the hardest hit.