Friday, March 12, 2010

Newsweek Joins Pakistan's Media Revolution

With the planned September launch of its Pakistan edition, Newsweek magazine is the latest publication to join Pakistan's media revolution, according to Newsweek Pakistan will be the first licensed international news magazine for the country and the eighth local edition under the Washington Post Co.-owned Newsweek brand. Other country editions published by Newsweek include those in Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, Poland, Russia and Turkey. In addition to featuring more local content, the country editions target local and international advertisers with special pricing to be competitive in the targeted media markets.

Newsweek Pakistan Edition

Newsweek Pakistan will be published under license by AG Publications, a privately-owned media company in Pakistan. Fasih Ahmed, who has reported for The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek International, will be the editor of Newsweek Pakistan. Ahmed won a New York Press Club award in 2008 for Newsweek's coverage of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Initially, there will be 30,000 copies of Pakistan edition printed each week.

Pakistan's Media Boom

The current media revolution sweeping the nation began ten years ago when Pakistan had just one television channel, according to the UK's Prospect Magazine. Today it has over 100. Together they have begun to open up a country long shrouded by political, moral and religious censorship—taking on the government, breaking social taboos and, most recently, pushing a new national consensus against the Taliban. The birth of privately owned commercial media has been enabled by the Musharraf-era deregulation, and funded by the tremendous growth in revenue from advertising targeted at the burgeoning urban middle class consumers. Analysts at Standard Charter Bank estimated in 2007 that Pakistan had 30 million people with incomes exceeding $10,000 a year. With television presence in over 16 million households accounting for 68% of the population in 2009, the electronic media have also helped inform and empower many rural Pakistanis, including women.

With an increase of 38% over 2008, the television advertising revenue for 2009 in Pakistan was Rs 16.4 billion ((US $200m), accounting for about half of the total ad market during the year. The TV ad revenue is continuing to rise as a percentage of total ad revenue, mostly at the expense of the print media ads. The biggest spenders in 2009 were the telecom companies with Rs 8 billion, followed closely by fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with Rs. 7 billion, as reported by Pakistan's GeoTV channel. FMCG products, as opposed to consumer durables such as home appliances, are generally low cost and replaced or fully used up over a short period of days, weeks, or months, and within one year. Other important sectors contributing to ad revenue are financial services and real estate, but these sectors have experienced significant slowdown with the current economic slump.

According to Daily Times, Chairman Mushtaq Malik of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has said that the cable television sector “is the fast growing segment among the electronic media ventures”. In the first 100 days of the current government, he has claimed that new licenses for 16 satellite TV channels, 10 FM radio stations, and 232 cable TV channels have been granted. It is anticipated that this would lead to additional investment worth Rs. 2.5 billion, generating 4000 additional jobs in this sector. The cable television sector alone is employing some 30,000 people in the country.

Foreign media, such as the business channel CNBC Pakistan, have also found a niche with the stellar performance and increased viewer and investor interest in Karachi stock exchange in the last decade. The Gallup Pakistan estimates that the number of TV viewers age 10 and above has increased from 63 million in 2004 to 86 million in 2009. Though exact numbers are hard to find, it is estimated that the rapid growth of Pakistan's media market over the last decade has attracted significant investment in the range of billions of dollars, and produced hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. There are 150 advertising agencies and 74 production companies. Given the rising power of the media to shape Pakistani society, public opinion and government policy, it is important to have greater transparency on sources of investments and revenue in the media business.

FM Stations

More than 100 private FM radio stations have been licensed in the last ten years. Most of them are known for providing basic entertainment - easy listening, popular music, cooking recipes, etc. But some FM stations are also providing useful information through talk shows by experts on legal, psychological and health matters; a community radio station in Lakki Marwat near FATA has a show on modern farming techniques like drip irrigation. In Karachi, at a discussion on organ transplant and organ donation, a caller who identified herself as a doctor, pointed out that those who denounce the practice as un-Islamic forget that technically even blood is defined as an organ.

On a national level, television is the dominant communication medium in Pakistan. But radio listenership in Pakistan remains strong in certain areas of the country. This is particularly the case in rural areas and less economically developed provinces, according to

Specifically, in the rural areas of the Baluchistan province, 46 percent of respondents said they listen to the radio at least weekly, rivaling rural television viewership at 47 percent. While in rural areas of the other three provinces surveyed (the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Punjab, and Sind), radio listenership is strong but is still lower than TV viewership.

In regions such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA, not surveyed), where the Taliban has held control over certain areas for a significant period of time, radio transmissions are often people’s main source of entertainment and news, mainly because religious extremists disrupt television broadcasts through frequent sabotage. Mainstream newspapers are also not available; many villages are difficult to access and selling publications can be risky for the seller. In addition, within the FATA region and much of the NWFP, television sets are simply too expensive and access to electricity is spotty.

Print Media

Although broadcast and cable media are the primary sources of information for most Pakistanis, the press has a long history in the country and a contentious relationship with successive governments. The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) boasts more than 262 member publications in print,. Overall estimates indicate that there are about 1,000 daily newspapers, most of which are in English or Urdu. A BBC survey in 2008 found that 42% of men and only 13% of women read newspapers regularly. Pakistan's press is among the most outspoken in South Asia, although its influence is limited by a literacy level of only 56%.


World telecoms body the ITU estimated in March 2008 that there were 17.5 million internet users, and the Internet access is continuing to grow rapidly. In addition to the established print, radio and television media websites, the Internet is also providing a platform for activists and emerging journalists to express their views through myriad online publications, blogs and social networking sites. With over 56% penetration of mobile phones in Pakistan, the widespread availability and affordability of modern communication technology has helped generate tremendous interest in the use of voice calls, photo or video uploading and text messaging to share news, opinions and ideas broadly.

Pakistan has a population of over 170 million and daily sales of only about 100,000 copies of English-language publications. The English language print media is dominated by local newspapers and magazines published by Dawn, Jang and Nawai Waqt media empires. The entry of Newsweek's Pakistan edition in the market will offer both local and international content, and is expected to start off with a print run of 30,000 copies, according to the Financial Times.

Book Publishing

The media boom in Pakistan has also brought attention to a new crop of Pakistani authors writing in English. Names such as Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Daniyal Mueenuddin (In Other Rooms, Other Wonders), Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows), Mohammad Hanif (A Case of Exploding Mangoes) and Nadeem Aslam (The Wasted Vigil) have been making waves in literary circles and winning prizes in London and New York, according to the Guardian newspaper.


I personally experienced the pervasive effects of Pakistan's media boom last summer when I visited the country. I saw multiple, competing channels catering to almost every niche, whim and taste---from news, politics, education, health, sports, comedy and talk shows to channels dedicated to cooking, fashion, fitness, music, business, religion, local languages and cultures etc. The media have had a profound influence on how many young people learn, talk, dress and behave, and emulate the outspoken media personalities, various experts, actors, preachers, singers, sportsmen, celebrities and fashion models. The growth in Pakistan's media market has resulted in more useful information, more advertising, more competition and more choice for the public.

Pakistan finds itself in the midst of many crises, ranging from a deep sense of insecurity and economic stagnation to low levels of human development and insufficient access to basic necessities of life such as proper nutrition, education and health care. My hope is that the mass media will effectively play a responsible role to inform and educate Pakistanis on the fundamental issues of poor governance in Pakistan, and help in shaping the debate and policies to solve some of the most serious problems facing the nation today.

Here's the cover of Newsweek Pakistan's debut issue:

Here's a video titled "I Am Pakistan":

Related Links:

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Poor Governance in Pakistan

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

The Real News From Pakistan

Pakistan's Economic Stagnation

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance

Newsweek Pakistan Edition Launch

ITU Internet Access Data by Countries

Brief History of Media in Pakistan

The Power of TV: Cable TV and Women's Status in India

Eleven Days in Karachi

Pakistan Country Profile By BBC

Online Political Activism in Pakistan

Pakistan Media Cyberletter

Asian Television Advertising Coalition

Impact of Cable TV on Pakistani Women


Riaz Haq said...

Here's recent news on Pakistan's telecom sector expansion, as reported in Daily Times:

Despite inching towards a saturation stage, the telecom sector received $1.438 billion in year 2008 and $815 million in the following year - 2009 as FDI in different projects in the ministry and its attached departments.

The total Internet users of the country rose to 19 million with total broadband users rising to 413,809 million. Total direct and indirect jobs in the telecom sector are 1.36 million.

During the past two years, the total phone lines increased from 94.695 million to 103.801 million with mobile lines increasing from 88.019 million to 97.58 million, almost 59.6 percent upward slide, while the fixed lines declined from 4.416 million to 3.526 million, almost 2.2 percent downward slide. The democratic government, after taking over in February 2008, came forward with policy reforms and policy directives for the telecom sector for year 2010.


Pakistan Telecommuni-cation Authority (PTA) Chairman Dr Mohammad Yasin opined that Pakistan’s telecommunication sector was growing faster, even more rapidly than that of India with over 63 percent teledensity, encouraging the FDI.

“Look, India is lagging far behind Pakistan with 37 percent teledensity as compared to 63.5 percent in Pakistan. Pakistan’s FDI policy is much more liberal than that of India to attract more investment in Pakistan’s telecom sector,” he added.

The PTA chief was of the view that the ever-growing teledensity of Pakistan is unleashing new vistas of opportunities to the foreign and local investors for better returns, especially in the field of data services.

“Services like mobile Internet, mobile banking and Internet Protocol Television hold fortunes for any wise investor,” he added.

The Telecom analysts around the world still believe in Pakistan to be a lucrative market and business monitor forecasts that mobile subscribers in Pakistan would hit 100-million mark by next year.

The sector has been growing at a rapid pace where growth rates have become the hallmark. Although a bit slower growth, of only 7 percent, was observed in mobile sector last year, this trend cannot be attributed only to saturation as there are factors like international financial crisis, devaluation of rupee, security situation and re-registration of SIM programme.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the latest BMI research report on Pakistan's Telecom market:

BMI forecasts that the mobile sector will achieve a total of 98.558mn subscribers at the end of 2009, after the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) and operators reported a total of 95.909mn subscribers in the market as of September 2009. Between YE08 and September 2009, the number of net additions totalled 6.002mn, which was significantly lower than the 13.339mn net additions in the YE07 to September 2008 period. Much of the difference is related to the government’s re-registration programme, as well as taxation on operators.
With the re-registration programme over, and operators involved in rebuilding their subscriber bases, BMI views growth of the mobile sector to continue over the next five years ended 2014. Operators such as Mobilink have focused their efforts on acquiring new subscribers, retaining the loyalty of existing subscribers, while also strengthening their brand image through key campaigns carried out during Independence Day and Eid. Second-ranked Telenor, which managed to overtake Ufone in Q209 and having previously been overtaken by the PTCL-owned mobile unit in Q308, has deployed attractive services such as its mobile banking, ‘easypaisa’, to encourage customers to its network.
The government has also reviewed the taxation policies in place on the mobile sector, and from which it gains a substantial chunk of its foreign direct investment (FDI) from. By strangling operators with higher taxes, it came to the realisation that neither operators, customers or the government would benefit. As of July 1 2009, the government reduced federal excise duty on mobile usage to 19.5% from 21%, as well as reduced the new SIM activation tax from PKR500 to PKR250. This is certainly good news and should help to build up the sector.
Furthermore, we have also noted that the PTA has sought to introduce MVNOs to the market. The licence fees have been set at US$5mn each. There appears to be little interest so far, given that there are no fewer than six operators, with competition between them particularly aggressive. Indeed, press reports report rumours of consolidation in the market, pointing to Telenor as a potential purchaser of Warid Telecom, although the Norwegian operator has denied the comments. It is not the first time, however, that talk of consolidation has occurred in the sector.
Meanwhile, we continue to witness the encouraging growth of the broadband market in Pakistan, breaking the half a million barrier in September 2009. This is being largely driven by the WiMAX technology, which has been rising at a faster rate than DSL, FTTH or EV-DO. With two-thirds of the Pakistani population residing in rural areas where there is a shortage of fixed lines, the need for wireless alternatives is clearly on the rise. In view of this, the government should accelerate the award of 3G licences, which had been expected in 2009, but is now expected in 2010.

Riaz Haq said...

Huma Yusuf blogs for Pakistan's site in Karachi and is a close watcher of new media in Pakistan. She says that in her country, new media has spawned a pithy brand of citizen journalism. The reason: “unlike Indians, we feel like we’re in a state of war”.

She says that during the Pakistan Emergency of 2006-7, Pakistan’s online population grew from 2.5 million to 18 million.

Click here for an MIT media labs paper she published on activism by Pakistan's online population.

Riaz Haq said...

From Ayesha Siddiqa's description of the GeoTV anchor Hamid Mir's leaked conversation with an alleged TTP operative, it appears that Pakistani military. media and politicians are well versed in the art of the leaks to push their respective agendas.

Here are some excerpts from Siddiqa's recent post:

"The conversation should not surprise people as Hamid Mir has old links with the Islamiscts and the intelligence agencies. In the world of the armed forces information is difficult to access. Relatively better access to information comes at a price which Hamid Mir and many other journalists in the world, particularly Pakistan pay happily. There is not a single journalist, especially on the electronic media who comments on national security and is not fed by the military. I remember one very popular journalist who even writes for foreign press. He is considered an authority on military affairs. The poor chap cannot tell the front of a submarine from its back. Planting people in the media and intelligentsia is an old trick. The only matter of concern really is that how and why is the audio recording made available on the net? The real story is the disclosure rather than the conversation."


"There is something that doesn't make sense in the story. Whats more important to remember are that the jihadis (aka Pakistani Taliban) are well-entrenched in Pakistan's intelligence system and even its establishment. No wonder, Pakistan's courts have been acquitting jihadis like Lashkare Jhangavi's Malik Ishaq. Recently, the courts acquitted those accused of involvement in the Marriott bombing case and the suicide attack against Lt. general Mushtaq Baig. These decisions could have been changed if the agencies were willing to sort out the jihadis. The segment within the agencies which supports jihad and jihadis has now strengthened. The army and its intelligence agencies now have a dependence on these jihadis. The questions which many ask is that why get their men killed. This is nothing new. There was similar friction in the case of the Algerian military and the Islamiscts. The reason that this particular battle in Pakistan is contained to a few people is because of the influence of the Islamiscts on the army."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Business Recorder story about the launch of a new broadband company in Pakistan:

KARACHI (May 28 2010): Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Qubee, Mubashir Naqvi on Thursday announced the formal launch of Qubee broadband internet service in Pakistan. The Qubee service has begun in Karachi through its stores besides a network of local distributors, he said at press conference held at a local hotel. "The internet broadband growth has been forecast to reach about 4.3 million users by the end of 2013 in Pakistan at an unprecedented rate," he added.

Keeping in view the whole scenario, he said, there was a vast opportunity for wireless broadband providers to capitalise on the unexploited market in the country. Naqvi was of the view that the economic and social uplift of a country was altogether linked to the broadband access. Pakistan is amongst the most dynamic telecom economies in terms of internet growth, he cited the observation of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2010.

With an initial investment of 70 million dollar in Pakistan, he said, Qubee was planning to seize the opportunity of huge untapped market, adding, "Qubee is responsible for the direct employment of over 120 people in Karachi, which is set to grow to 250 people by the end of the year."

Naqvi said that Qubee would also be available in Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi by the end of the current year to expand its network base across Pakistan over the next few years. CEO Qubee observed that the demand for internet connectivity had never been high in the country, saying that the new broadband service would go fully to satisfy its customers with reliable and undistorted download within a range of affordable packages.

With the brand name Qubee is a wireless broadband internet service provider of Augere Holdings Plc, in Pakistan. It offers connectivity through a technology called WiMax [World-wide Inter-operability for Microwave Access]. The minimum package is Rs 750 a month with 512 Kbps speed and six GB downloading capacity, while the internet gadget is offered to costumers free of cost. The other packages range between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 with different speed slabs and download capacity a month, he told Business Recorder earlier.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a piece by Robert Fisk in the Independent newspaper about Israeli and western spin with repetition of the terror in the aftermath of Gaza Flotilla massacre by the Israeli commands. This could easily be applied to the Indian and western propaganda against all things Pakistan or Muslim:

Following the latest in semantics on the news? Journalism and the Israeli government are in love again. It's Islamic terror, Turkish terror, Hamas terror, Islamic Jihad terror, Hezbollah terror, activist terror, war on terror, Palestinian terror, Muslim terror, Iranian terror, Syrian terror, anti-Semitic terror...

But I am doing the Israelis an injustice. Their lexicon, and that of the White House – most of the time – and our reporters' lexicon, is the same. Yes, let's be fair to the Israelis. Their lexicon goes like this: Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror.

How many times did I just use the word "terror"? Twenty. But it might as well be 60, or 100, or 1,000, or a million. We are in love with the word, seduced by it, fixated by it, attacked by it, assaulted by it, raped by it, committed to it. It is love and sadism and death in one double syllable, the prime time-theme song, the opening of every television symphony, the headline of every page, a punctuation mark in our journalism, a semicolon, a comma, our most powerful full stop. "Terror, terror, terror, terror". Each repetition justifies its predecessor.
Most of all, it's about the terror of power and the power of terror. Power and terror have become interchangeable. We journalists have let this happen. Our language has become not just a debased ally, but a full verbal partner in the language of governments and armies and generals and weapons. Remember the "bunker buster" and the "Scud buster" and the "target-rich environment" in the Gulf War (Part One)? Forget about "weapons of mass destruction". Too obviously silly. But "WMD" in the Gulf War (Part Two) had a power of its own, a secret code – genetic, perhaps, like DNA – for something that would reap terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. "45 Minutes to Terror".

Power and the media are not just about cosy relationships between journalists and political leaders, between editors and presidents. They are not just about the parasitic-osmotic relationship between supposedly honourable reporters and the nexus of power that runs between White House and State Department and Pentagon, between Downing Street and the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence, between America and Israel.

In the Western context, power and the media is about words – and the use of words. It is about semantics. It is about the employment of phrases and their origins. And it is about the misuse of history, and about our ignorance of history. More and more today, we journalists have become prisoners of the language of power. Is this because we no longer care about linguistics or semantics? Is this because laptops "correct" our spelling, "trim" our grammar so that our sentences so often turn out to be identical to those of our rulers? Is this why newspaper editorials today often sound like political speeches?

For two decades now, the US and British – and Israeli and Palestinian – leaderships have used the words "peace process" to define the hopeless, inadequate, dishonourable agreement that allowed the US and Israel to dominate whatever slivers of land would be given to an occupied people. I first queried this expression, and its provenance, at the time of Oslo – although how easily we forget that the secret surrenders at Oslo were themselves a conspiracy without any legal basis.

Riaz Haq said...

On a national level, television is the dominant communication medium in Pakistan. But radio radio listenership in Pakistan remains strong in certain areas of the country. This is particularly the case in rural areas and less economically developed provinces, according to

Specifically, in the rural areas of the Baluchistan province, 46 percent of respondents said they listen to the radio at least weekly, rivaling rural television viewership at 47 percent. While in rural areas of the other three provinces surveyed (the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Punjab, and Sind), radio listenership is strong but is still lower than TV viewership.

In regions such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA, not surveyed), where the Taliban has held control over certain areas for a significant period of time, radio transmissions are often people’s main source of entertainment and news, mainly because religious extremists disrupt television broadcasts through frequent sabotage. Mainstream newspapers are also not available; many villages are difficult to access and selling publications can be risky for the seller. In addition, within the FATA region and much of the NWFP, television sets are simply too expensive and access to electricity is spotty.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from NY Times story about declining power of Pakistan's feudal class:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power. Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story in Express Tribune about the launch of Newsweek Pakistan edition:

KARACHI: Media insiders expect cut-throat competition in the English print media market as two new publications enter the once stagnant market that has already witnessed one launch this year (The Express Tribune). The first is the Pakistan edition of US based Newsweek Pakistan which is set to launch today despite facing ongoing losses in the international market.

It, along with many other media entities including the New York Times (a partner paper of The Express Tribune in Pakistan) faces a difficult future as the rise of the internet coupled with the decline of a newspaper reading population in Western nations has battered their profit margins.

The second newspaper set to launch later this year is Pakistan Today, a daily newspaper to be published from Lahore by former publisher of The Nation, Arif Nizami.

Editor of Newsweek Pakistan, Fasih Ahmed says the localised version of the international current affairs magazine will have double the print run as compared to that of the international edition. “Newsweek has been around in Pakistan for years,” he says “we are not taking a risk.”

This is the eighth international edition of the magazine as Newsweek has been spreading its wings in the face of massive losses.

The English-language weekly had been on the block for over three months ever since the Washington Post Company announced $30 million in losses last year alone, until 91-year-old audio equipment magnate Sidney Harman agreed to buy the flailing publication earlier this month.

Alongside the sale, there has been a departure of key editors, the most notable being Fareed Zakaria, who has left Newsweek to join its competitor Time magazine as a contributing editor and columnist.

However, Ahmed says the change in ownership will have no impact on the new magazine’s fortunes in Pakistan. “Unlike Newsweek Asia which is currently available in the market, the magazine is to offer readers thirty percent global news with seventy percent homegrown, local coverage.” Ahmed says it is the same ratio that is followed by all of Newsweek’s 11 international editions distributed in more than 190 countries.

Owais Aslam Ali, chairman of Pakistan Press International expects other international publications to follow suit. “Eastern markets are more viable,” he says. “International newspapers and magazines have brand value which they can use to their advantage. They can go much further with lesser investment.”

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows) talked about Pakistani music with Steve Inskeep of NPR Morning Edition this morning.
Here's the NPR website report of this interview:

"Disco Deewane" means "disco crazy" in Urdu. It's also the name of a song by the brother-sister duo Nazia and Zoheb Hassan, a hit in Pakistan in 1981.

But its words spurred religious tension as Pakistan's government became even more conservative. Pakistani-born writer Kamila Shamsie remembers the music video, in which government censors wouldn't let cameras film the sensuous Nazia from the waist down.

"You had this woman and this man, who were sort of out there talking about the craziness of disco," Shamsie says. "And about a certain kind of social liberation that went away."

Many Muslims in Pakistan practice variations of Sufism, a less rigid form of Islam that's very open to music and dance. Facing waning popularity in the late 1970s, then-dictator Muhammad Zia-ul Haq ushered a more extreme Islam into the law and culture of the country.

Pop music managed to prevail. Despite heavy government censorship in 1987, Pakistani television held a competition for its viewers to come up with a patriotic song. The winning track was "Dil Dil Pakistan" from the pop group Vital Signs. It became an instant hit.

"It felt really refreshing and it felt subversive, which is ridiculous if you actually look at the lyrics," Shamsie says.

Two prominent members of Vital Signs parted ways with the group in the early 1990s, taking different directions in both music and religion. Salman Ahmad formed Junoon, a Sufi rock group which achieved widespread popularity in Southeast Asia in 1997 with their chart-topping hit "Sayonee." Meanwhile, frontman Junaid Jamshed began singing religious music and denounced pop as "un-Islamic."

"There are so many different variations of Islam," she says. "I think within the music and the stories of Salman Ahmad and Junaid Jamshed, you can see two of the more dramatic ways in which that search for religious belief can play out."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed by Beena Sarwar in the Guardian recently:

India and Pakistan may be neighbours but it's surprising how little they really know about each other. Their rich common heritage is easily forgotten amid mutual baiting and negative stereotyping, and it's difficult to imagine them ever being truly at peace until these obstacles have been overcome.

"I'm really surprised to see so many women ... I thought you would be all covered in burqas," said a journalist at the Indian Women's Press Club when the Pakistani contingent arrived last April on a visit organised by Aman ki Asha (a joint initiative for peace by the Times of India and Pakistan's Jang media group).

Indians who visit Pakistan are invariably pleasantly surprised by the openness, helpfulness and hospitality of Pakistanis. It is hard for them to believe there is so much vibrant art, fashion, music, dance, media, literature and theatre. They are moved by the outstanding work that people are doing, often voluntarily, in fields ranging from women's and human rights to education and medical care.

Many Pakistani men, women and children participate in the fortnightly Critical Mass cycling events in Karachi; there's a Critical Mass in Lahore, too. Music lovers in both cities organise the well-attended annual All Pakistan Music Conference that showcases classical musicians, singers and dancers. Pakistan hosts the largest privately organised annual puppet festival in the world. The festival organisers (the Peer Group) also arrange annual music, dance and theatre festivals.

Pakistanis also proved, during the restrictive military regime of Gen Zia-ul-Haq, that it is possible to have a lively theatre scene, including productions staged in backyards and open spaces in poor localities. Some activist groups, such as Ajoka Theatre and Tehrik-e-Niswan, still do this to raise awareness.

The few theatres we have in Pakistan remain solidly booked. Indian journalists who saw a local production of the West End hit musical Mama Mia in Lahore were stunned by the talent, and by the slickness of the production by the group which had put on Chicago the previous year.

But far too few opinion-makers from India and Pakistan are able to visit the other country. Trapped in a long history of hostilities, our governments are reluctant to grant visas to each other's citizens, even journalists. Their reciprocal protocol only allows two journalists from the other country to live and work in their capital cities, Islamabad and New Delhi – and they must obtain special permission to go elsewhere.

Despite the shared border, languages, food, music and cultural traditions, we don't even have the option of a tourist visa for each other's citizens. When visas are granted, they are reminiscent of the cold war era tendency to grant city-specific, single entry visas limited typically to a fortnight or a month. Visitors must report to the police within 24 hours of arrival and departure.

Our cell phones, on roaming anywhere else in the world, stop working when we step into each other's country.

We've banned each other's newspapers and television news channels – ridiculous in this age of internet access. India doesn't allow Pakistan's cooking, sports or entertainment TV shows or live link-ups to Pakistani TV channels. Pakistan is more relaxed on this score and allows India's extravagant soap operas – but many here (particularly in the military and the bureaucracy) still operate on the premise that India is enemy number one.

Riaz Haq said...

Beena Sarwar's Guardian Op Ed contd:

We've banned each other's newspapers and television news channels – ridiculous in this age of internet access. India doesn't allow Pakistan's cooking, sports or entertainment TV shows or live link-ups to Pakistani TV channels. Pakistan is more relaxed on this score and allows India's extravagant soap operas – but many here (particularly in the military and the bureaucracy) still operate on the premise that India is enemy number one.

Even as Pakistan reels from unprecedented floods that submerged one-fifth of the country and affected 20 million people, officials are dithering over allowing relief and aid workers from India.

European states came together despite a long history of bloodshed and hostility because it made economic sense to do so. For India and Pakistan too, co-operation and trade make sense. Businessmen and women recognise this, and they endorsed economic ties at a large meeting in May organised by Aman ki Asha.

In an age of nuclear weapons and unmanned drones how much sense does it make to keep armies amassed at the borders? Our people – one-fifth of the world's poor – need schools, hospitals, shelters, infrastructure, not more missiles and bombs.

It is only by opening the India-Pakistan border to each other's travellers, to commerce and to our shared culture that we can combat the negative stereotypes that feed mutual hostility and militarism in the subcontinent.

aamsvad said...

Happy New Year, Riaz!
A prosperous and peaceful 2011 for all!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's The Express Tribune piece on "changing face of retail" driven by the growth of middle class and FMCG sector in Pakistan:

The retail sector in Pakistan, long dominated by thousands of small corner shops, is about to go through a dramatic facelift as consumers become more discerning and demand greater choice.

The advent of hypermarkets and wholesalers such as Carrefour, Metro Cash & Carry and Makro has given Pakistanis a taste for a consumer choice driven shopping experience which is likely to deepen the market for consumer goods throughout the country and alleviate what has hitherto been the central problem in developing that sector: logistics.

A fragmented market

According to the Small & Medium Enterprise Development Authority, there are over 125,000 retail outlets all across Pakistan. Approximately 94 per cent of these are miniscule corner shops and small retail outlets in cities and villages. Perhaps most critically, there is no nationwide chain of retail or even wholesale outlets.

This poses a significant challenge for most businesses looking to enter the food and agribusiness sector. Despite the fact that Pakistanis spend close to $36 billion a year on food and other retail shopping, businesses find it very difficult to reach the mass market of Pakistani consumers simply because it is not a single marketplace but tens of thousands of little shops.
What it all means

The existence of these chains means that Pakistanis are about to be inundated with outlets that seek to create a better shopping experience and offer consumers more choice. The larger these chains become, the more those choices they offer will be produced locally.

If food production companies can have lower distribution costs and easier access to a wider swathe of the consumer market, they are more likely to expand existing lines of business and introduce newer markets. In other words, food producers will go from selling raw commodities to selling higher value goods which will not only expand consumer choice but will also increase the productivity of the Pakistani workforce and thus their incomes.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a report on Pakistan's retail sector:

The ongoing shift in population from rural to urban areas has underpinned the expansion of the retail sector. Strong real GDP growth until fiscal year 2006/07 (July-June) provided the foundation for years of double-digit growth in net retail sales in US dollar terms. However, net retail sales contracted by 1.2% in 2008. Sales then grew by only 5.7%, to US$75bn, in 2009, as the inflationary surge of 2008, which reduced spending power, abated only moderately. In local-currency terms retail sales growth in 2009 is estimated at 22.7%, owing to depreciation in the value of the Pakistan rupee against the US dollar. A gradual shift towards more formal retail facilities will facilitate the expansion of sales in 2012-14, but this process will be slow and confined to urban areas. (In 2010-11 retail sales expansion will be subdued, as overall private consumption growth slows sharply owing to the catastrophic floods that struck Pakistan in August-September 2010. Electronic retailing is almost non­existent in Pakistan because of the low levels of Internet penetration and credit-card use in the country.

Consumer finance accounted for 4.2% of the total stock of credit in the country in June 2010, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP, the central bank). Credit for purchases of consumer durables was down by 25% year on year..... Because of their limited financial resources, most retailers sell on a cash-only basis. This is gradually changing, and credit-card use is likely to become an increasingly important element of personal finance in the long term. However, in the short to medium term credit-card use will be constrained by the poor economic climate: outstanding credit-card loans were down by 25% year on year in June 2010. Large, centralised shops have not been popular in Pakistan, as low levels of car ownership mean that people prefer "corner shops" near their homes. More importantly, frequent and often prolonged power failures reduce the advantages of refrigeration, leading to a preference for fresh goods bought for immediate consumption from neighbourhood retailers. Online retail sales are negligible, owing to the country's extremely low levels of Internet penetration and credit-card ownership and the absence of Internet merchant accounts to facilitate online credit-card transactions.

The retail market is highly fragmented and underdeveloped. There are over 125,000 retail outlets across the country, according to the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority, but around 95% of these are tiny corner shops. The few supermarkets that exist are concentrated in Karachi and Lahore. USC is the largest supermarket chain by far, with 5,850 outlets throughout the country in 2009, according to Planet Retail, an international industry consultancy. The other major chains are Whitbread (with 17 outlets in 2009), GNC (with six outlets), Metro (five outlets) and Carrefour (one outlet). However, even USC's market share is virtually insignificant in terms of retailing as a whole, according to Planet Retail, accounting for only 1.2% of total grocery spending in the country. The vast majority of retailers in Pakistan are small family-run shops, and this will remain the case throughout the forecast period (2010-14).

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan PTCL has recieved consumer choice award for its EVO 3G service, according to Pak Observer:

Karachi—Pakistan Telecommunication Company LTD (PTCL) has won Best Consumer Choice Award 2010 for its product “EVO”, that is the fastest wireless broadband service with the widest coverage, in over 100 cities of the Pakistan. Pakistani consumers have chosen EVO a world class and exclusive device as a recipient of, Consumers Choice Award in the category of Best Wireless Broadband. Federal Minister Makhdoom Amin Faheem presented the shield to SEVP South Abdullah Youseff. The Consumers Choice Award is celebrating its 6th successful year in the country and has become the most recognized and prestigious event of the country’s business calendar.

PTCL has always laid special focus on delivering the best to its customers by providing the most affordable means of communication and a truly reliable and technology wise superior network. With the substantial market share, loyal subscriber base and the recognition as the only integrated telecommunications service provider, PTCL continues to set excellence benchmarks in the Telecom Industry of Pakistan. The commercial launch of EVO Nitro 3G offering speed upto 9.3 mbps,which is unexampled and one and the only fastest and most widely available wireless service in Pakistan that meets needs of the next generation for ultimate speed along with superior, matchless and extraordinary performance.

PTCL President and CEO - Walid Irshaid while acknowledging this achievement, highlighted pragmatic approach of PTCL and stated that PTCL understands the changing dynamics of the telecommunication sector and is working towards foreseeing our customer’s needs and fulfilling them. The selection of EVO in the category of Best Wireless Broadband in Consumer Choice Award for ‘2010’ is an acknowledgement of that. EVO 3G Wireless Broadband is Pakistan’s fastest on the double wireless internet offering its customers superior, venerable, advanced and a cutting edge 3G internet experience with its unprecedented speed. It has revolutionized the three simple steps just plug in-click-connect of wireless connectivity for our valued customers. Pakistan is the first country in the world of telecommunication to commercially launch EVO 3G Nitro, the fastest wireless broadband with seamless roaming having speed up to 9.3mbps.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on the launch of web-based Maati TV in Pakistan:

LAHORE: Music Art and Technology Informatrix (Maati Tv) will mainly serve as a platform for the youth to share their stories of social and development sectors.

The web television will work on the principle of non-corporate parallel media. A project of Interactive Resource Centre (IRC) in collaboration with the South Asian Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) and the Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS), Maati TV will initially have its correspondents in 20 districts and different educational institutions across the country.

In Punjab, Maati Tv will have its correspondents in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur and Faisalabad. In Sindh the correspondents will be located in Karachi, Hyderabad, Dadu and Juhi. Balochistan will have its representatives in Quetta and Jaffarabad while in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa it will have correspondents in Mardan, Peshawar and Kohat. The web television will also have representation in Gilgit and Hunza.

The correspondents from these districts will make documentaries on social and developmental issues which will be uploaded on the website. The head office of the web television will be in Karachi.

Executive Director of the IRC Muhammad Waseem told The Express Tribune that the organisation has trained the correspondents in documentary making, “We have worked in different educational institutions on peace building and students will also make documentaries on different social and developmental subjects. We have provided cameras and editing units to our correspondents and their documentaries will mainly only be three-minute long.” The youth does not have a platform to speak about social problems and this television will provide them with a platform to get involved in the social building process, he added.

Programme Manager IRC Nasir Sohail said, “Maati TV will be like Democracy Now, a non-corporate media in the US, we have also added the option of blogging in it. People can write their blogs or articles and we will generate debates on our documentaries or our blogs”.

When asked about data management of the site, he said, “We will have multi servers. We have this thing in mind and have sorted this out. Honorarium would be given to the correspondents for making each documentary”.

The television will also incorporate cell phone videos. “There will be a section in which we will have mobile phone videos. People can make documentaries on any social issue and we will upload them,” said Waseem.

Flood relief activities

Maati TV will focus on the rehabilitation work in flood-hit areas through a special segment. “The locals in the flood hit areas will serve as watchdogs. They will make documentaries on the relief activities and we will upload them on our website,” said Waseem. By 2012, 70 percent population of Pakistan is going to be under 30 and that is our target audience. When asked about the financial feasibility of the project he said, “We intend to have google ads and meet our expenses from there. Another option is that we will focus on corporate social responsibility and generate funds for it. If things go as per plan this project should become self sustaining in a year.”

Riaz Haq said...

Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the govt to restore Geo Super's satellite license immediately.

Having lost the court battle, the PPP govt and PEMRA are now likely to respond by encouraging significant competition in sports coverage by giving terrestrial transmission licenses to Geo's competitors to hurt Geo's profits.

It'll be a good outcome for consumers and advertisers alike. It will give them more choices in sports media space. It'll improve and increase sports coverage overall...and encourage more youths to participate in athletics and sports.

Anonymous said...

nice article...

List of Pakistani publishers can be found here

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on the music industry woes in Pakistan:

Let’s start with the record labels. There is only one active record label in Pakistan at present: Fire Records. With more than 50 artists under its belt, Fire Records enjoys a monopoly over the industry. The other big players of the industry (The Musik Records, EMI and LIPS Music — not counting Alif Records and Riot Records which only cater to individual artists) are currently dormant.
However, when you read the fine print of the contract, it featured a few conditions.

For starters, the package included no monetary compensation for almost all artists. Secondly, an artist had to give up his/her rights to the music. This meant that Fire Records vetoed every decision including which song to launch when, which video to make when and when to distribute the album. Moreover, all artists signed under Fire Records could have their videos aired only exclusively on Fire Records’ sister television channels (AAG, Geo TV, etc.) unless royalty payments were made by other channels.

With blatantly anti-competitive practices, Fire Records became the sole lifeline for these top 50 artists of Pakistan. So, unsurprisingly, when Fire Records decided to decrease its output of new releases in the market, the whole industry suffered.

A good example is that of the band Mauj. Having released their first single “Khushfehmi” in 2004 to widespread acclaim, and then “Paheliyan” in 2008, the band signed on with Fire Records in January 2009 with a ready-made album in hand. However, the record company decided to postpone the album’s release. The fans waited, the band complained, and illegal free downloads soared on the web. It wasn’t until a year later in January 2010 that the album finally saw a release. But by then a lot of water had passed under the bridge – it was too late. The craze had already died.

Call suffered a similar fate. With their album ready in 2008, they had to wait till February 2011. “Laree Chootee” had truly missed the bus by then.
Fire Records, the largest investor in the record label business, is also facing the crunch. In the words of the Operations Manager at Fire Records: “The days where an album could easily sell a 100,000-plus copies are over. Even mass appeal albums of artists like Shazia Manzoor are struggling to hit the lower thousands. There are very few returns to be made in an environment such as this”.

Other factors affecting record labels is the refusal of TV channels to pay any royalties on videos, and the increased influx of Bollywood songs being played on local channels which is directly hampering consumer demand for local music.
Conventionally, record labels engage with distributors and have joint investment and revenue sharing models. This is not true in Pakistan. Artists such as Jal, Ali Azmat, Ali Zafar and many others have to directly engage with Sadaf Stereo and Sound Master for the distribution of their albums. These agreements are often not legally binding contracts but simply a take it or leave it offer in which the artists are paid up front. Consequently, the artists receive no royalty per sale, have no say in where and when the albums will be placed, and cannot keep track of the quantity sold. The lack of respect for legal contracts by distributors reflects the general lack of respect for intellectual property and copyright in our country.
While some established artists have managed to explore new markets through Indian record labels, new artists have struggled to overcome these enormous hurdles. Take the example of Qayaas, an amazing new band from Islamabad who produced their own album, made their own videos, and personally distributed their own printed albums to stores across Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on rising consumer spending and growing FMCG sector in Pakistan:

...“The rural push is aimed at the boisterous youth in these areas, who have bountiful cash and resources to increase purchases,” Shazia Syed, vice president for customer development at Unilever Pakistan Ltd., said in an interview. “Rural growth is more than double that of national sales.”
Nestle Pakistan Ltd., which is spending 300 million Swiss francs ($330 million) to double dairy output in four years, boosted sales 29 percent to 33 billion rupees ($377 million) in the six months through June.

“We have been focusing on rural areas very strongly,” Ian Donald, managing director of Nestle’s Pakistan unit, said in an interview in Lahore. “Our observation is that Pakistan’s rural economy is doing better than urban areas.”

The parent, based in Vevey, Switzerland, aims to get 45 percent of revenue from emerging markets by 2020.
Haji Mirbar, who grows cotton on a 5-acre farm with his four brothers, said his family’s income grew fivefold in the year through June, allowing him to buy branded products. He uses Unilever’s Lifebuoy for his open-air baths under a hand pump, instead of the handmade soap he used before.
Sales for the Pakistan unit of Unilever rose 15 percent to 24.8 billion rupees in the first half. Colgate-Palmolive Pakistan Ltd.’s sales increased 29 percent in the six months through June to 7.6 billion rupees, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Unilever is pushing beauty products in the countryside through a program called “Guddi Baji,” an Urdu phrase that literally means “doll sister.” It employs “beauty specialists who understand rural women,” providing them with vans filled with samples and equipment, Syed said. Women in villages are also employed as sales representatives, because “rural is the growth engine” for Unilever in Pakistan, she said.

While the bulk of spending for rural families goes to food, about 20 percent “is spent on looking beautiful and buying expensive clothes,” Syed said.

Colgate-Palmolive, the world’s largest toothpaste maker, aims to address a “huge gap” in sales outside Pakistan’s cities by more than tripling the number of villages where its products, such as Palmolive soap, are sold, from the current 5,000, said Syed Wasif Ali, rural operations manager at the local unit.
Unilever plans to increase the number of villages where its products are sold to almost half of the total 34,000 within three years. Its merchandise, including Dove shampoo, Surf detergent and Brooke Bond Supreme tea, is available in about 11,000 villages now.
Pakistan, Asia’s third-largest wheat grower, in 2008 increased wheat prices by more than 50 percent as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sought to boost production of the staple.

“The injection of purchasing power in the rural sector has been unprecedented,” said Sherani, who added that local prices for rice and sugarcane have also risen.
Increasing consumption in rural areas is forecast to drive economic growth in the South Asian country of 177 million people, according to government estimates.

Higher crop prices boosted farmers’ incomes in Pakistan by 342 billion rupees in the 12 months through June, according to a government economic survey. That was higher than the gain of 329 billion rupees in the preceding eight years.
Telenor Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. is also expanding in Pakistan’s rural areas, which already contribute 60 percent of sales, said Anjum Nida Rahman, corporate communications director for the local unit of the Nordic region’s largest phone company.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on rising consumer spending and growing FMCG sector in Pakistan:

...“The rural push is aimed at the boisterous youth in these areas, who have bountiful cash and resources to increase purchases,” Shazia Syed, vice president for customer development at Unilever Pakistan Ltd., said in an interview. “Rural growth is more than double that of national sales.”
Nestle Pakistan Ltd., which is spending 300 million Swiss francs ($330 million) to double dairy output in four years, boosted sales 29 percent to 33 billion rupees ($377 million) in the six months through June.

“We have been focusing on rural areas very strongly,” Ian Donald, managing director of Nestle’s Pakistan unit, said in an interview in Lahore. “Our observation is that Pakistan’s rural economy is doing better than urban areas.”

The parent, based in Vevey, Switzerland, aims to get 45 percent of revenue from emerging markets by 2020.
Haji Mirbar, who grows cotton on a 5-acre farm with his four brothers, said his family’s income grew fivefold in the year through June, allowing him to buy branded products. He uses Unilever’s Lifebuoy for his open-air baths under a hand pump, instead of the handmade soap he used before.
Sales for the Pakistan unit of Unilever rose 15 percent to 24.8 billion rupees in the first half. Colgate-Palmolive Pakistan Ltd.’s sales increased 29 percent in the six months through June to 7.6 billion rupees, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Unilever is pushing beauty products in the countryside through a program called “Guddi Baji,” an Urdu phrase that literally means “doll sister.” It employs “beauty specialists who understand rural women,” providing them with vans filled with samples and equipment, Syed said. Women in villages are also employed as sales representatives, because “rural is the growth engine” for Unilever in Pakistan, she said.

While the bulk of spending for rural families goes to food, about 20 percent “is spent on looking beautiful and buying expensive clothes,” Syed said.

Colgate-Palmolive, the world’s largest toothpaste maker, aims to address a “huge gap” in sales outside Pakistan’s cities by more than tripling the number of villages where its products, such as Palmolive soap, are sold, from the current 5,000, said Syed Wasif Ali, rural operations manager at the local unit.
Unilever plans to increase the number of villages where its products are sold to almost half of the total 34,000 within three years. Its merchandise, including Dove shampoo, Surf detergent and Brooke Bond Supreme tea, is available in about 11,000 villages now.
Pakistan, Asia’s third-largest wheat grower, in 2008 increased wheat prices by more than 50 percent as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sought to boost production of the staple.

“The injection of purchasing power in the rural sector has been unprecedented,” said Sherani, who added that local prices for rice and sugarcane have also risen.
Increasing consumption in rural areas is forecast to drive economic growth in the South Asian country of 177 million people, according to government estimates.

Higher crop prices boosted farmers’ incomes in Pakistan by 342 billion rupees in the 12 months through June, according to a government economic survey. That was higher than the gain of 329 billion rupees in the preceding eight years.
Telenor Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. is also expanding in Pakistan’s rural areas, which already contribute 60 percent of sales, said Anjum Nida Rahman, corporate communications director for the local unit of the Nordic region’s largest phone company.

Riaz Haq said...

Radio Pakistan has archived a treasure trove of 3.5 million minutes of its broadcast, including historic speeches and interviews of national leaders, that are now available on the internet, according to Pakistan Today:

Broadcast transmissions of Radio Pakistan could be accessed via the internet and mobile streaming throughout the world and all past archives would be available on Youtube. The websites are available both in Urdu and English languages but they also give access to different programmes in 22 regional languages. The director general of the PBC said the new web portal, mobile streaming, video streaming and the Youtube project were aimed at connect the country’s youth to Radio Pakistan, which had been the most reliable medium of information. The new website is a dynamic site and all data is linked to Twitter and Facebook, Solangi said.
The new website was developed by the staff of the Radio Pakistan without any external funding and technical help. The website has a separate page for the programme side that contains online access to different programmes. The website covers sports, business, showbiz, and daily weather reports. The website also provides links to FM 101, FM 93, PLANET 94, FM 93 and some of the regional stations. The site could be accessed via cell-phone as well.
The archives include speeches of the foreign heads of state, speeches of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-i-Millat Liaqat Ali Khan, Mather-i-Millat Fatima Jinnah, Zulifkar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhuttoo, dramas and documentaries.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on the airing of the first episode of Sim Sim Humara in Pakistan:

The first episode of the Pakistan Children Television’s programme “Sim Sim Hamara”, an educational and capacity-building TV series for children, will be aired on Dec 10 at national TV.

The TV series will be a high-quality early education resource for a large number of children who lack access to formal education opportunities.

“Sim Sim Hamara” is the Pakistani adaptation of the engaging programme “Sesame Street”, created by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, New York, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The theatre group will create a total of 130 episodes of the “Sim Sim Hamra” broadcast on PTV Home.

Seventy-eight of these episodes will be produced in Urdu and 52 in national languages. The first episode will be aired at 5:30pm on Dec 10 and the repeat telecast will be at 9:30am next day. The moving spirit behind the project, Faizan Pirzada told Dawn that “along with language and numeracy skills, this new educational show will promote basic life skills, healthy habits, mutual respect and love for learning. The show’s locally-developed puppet stars include Rani, a six-year old school girl with a keen interest in natural sciences and a love of reading, Munna, a five-year old boy with big dreams and a flair for mathematics and numbers, Baily, a fluffy, hardworking donkey who aspires to be a pop star, Baji, a colourful, spirited woman with a passion for food, family, fun and tradition, and Haseen-o-Jameel, a crocodile who has a wonderful way with words, rhymes and songs.”

Throwing light on the background of the project, one of the heads of the PC TV, Faizan Pirzada said Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, held a national content seminar and four provincial workshops to gather educational advisers from various fields to provide direction for the educational framework for the Pakistan Children’s Television project.

He said the participants included representatives from both regional and federal government entities, academicians, performing artists, civil society members working with children, representatives from Sesame Workshop, USAID and the federal education secretary.

He said there’s a need to impress upon children and families the fact that learning happens in both formal and non-formal environments. PC television is using authentic examples from the real world, such as observing a family member count change at the grocery store, weighing produce on scales at the vegetable market, reading prayers from the Holy Quran and other holy texts, and measuring ingredients for ‘roti’ as a basis for storylines and materials that promote a lifelong love of learning.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story about unruly Pak media:

One morning last week, television viewers in Pakistan were treated to a darkly comic sight: a posse of middle-class women roaming through a public park in Karachi, on the hunt for dating couples engaged in “immoral” behavior.

Panting breathlessly and trailed by a cameraman, the group of about 15 women chased after — sometimes at jogging pace — girls and boys sitting quietly on benches overlooking the Arabian Sea or strolling under the trees. The women peppered them with questions: What were they doing? Did their parents know? Were they engaged?

Some couples reacted with alarm, and tried to scuttle away. A few gave awkward answers. One couple claimed to be married. The show’s host, Maya Khan, 31, demanded to see proof. “So where is your marriage certificate?” she asked sternly.

This hourlong spectacle, broadcast live on Samaa TV on Jan. 17, set off a furious reaction in parts of Pakistan. Outrage sprang from the Internet and percolated into the national newspapers, where writers slammed Ms. Khan’s tactics as a “witch hunt.”

“Vigil-aunties,” read one headline, referring to the South Asian term “aunty” for older, bossy and often judgmental women.

Now, the protests are headed to court. On Friday, four local nongovernment organizations will file a civil suit against Samaa TV in Pakistan’s Supreme Court, hoping to galvanize the country’s top judges into action.

“Journalists don’t have the right to become moral police,” said Adnan Rehmat of Intermedia, a media development organization that is among the petitioners. “We need to draw a line.”
The media revolution has transformed social and political boundaries: in 2007, feisty coverage played a central role in pushing Pervez Musharraf toward the exit; in recent weeks it helped guard against a possible military coup.

But television is also a lucrative business controlled by powerful, largely unaccountable tycoons. Last year Pakistan’s television stations had advertising revenues of more than $200 million, according to Aurora, an industry journal — 28 percent more than the previous year.

Amid stiff competition for viewers, channels have relied on populist measures — rowdy political talks shows and, in recent times, vigilante-style “investigative” shows modeled on programs in neighboring India.

Some have a noble objective: holding to account crooked public servants, police officers and even fellow journalists. But others have veered into territory that could be described as Pakistan’s answer to Jerry Springer — voyeuristic, mawkish and intrusive.

In recent months, one reporter screamed at a man accused of child rape as he awaited trial outside a courthouse; another hectored a man said to be a self-confessed necrophile inside a jail cell; and a TV reporter “raided” a gathering of whisky drinkers, even though alcohol flows freely at many media parties.
But on Wednesday, Samaa TV issued a formal apology for her show, followed by a short clip of Ms. Khan, sitting on a bed, offering an apology of sorts. “I never intended to make you teary-eyed or hurt you,” she said.

The furor has renewed long-standing demands for media regulation. With the state-run Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority seen as ineffective, the organizations approaching the Supreme Court on Friday hope the judiciary can help. “We need to hold the media to account,” Mr. Rehmat said.
“My real worry is that Pakistan is moving rightwards, and this time the face won’t have a beard,” said Mr. Nasir, the former head of Dawn News television. “And before people know it, they won’t know what’s hit them.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on launch of local version of an international glossy magazine in Pakistan:

Pakistan is better known for bombs than bombshells, militant compounds than opulent estates. A few enterprising Pakistanis hope to alter that perception with the launch of a local version of the well-known celebrity magazine Hello!.

They plan to profile Pakistan’s rich and famous: the dashing cricket players, voluptuous Bollywood stars and powerful politicians who dominate conversation in the country’s ritziest private clubs and lowliest tea stalls. They also hope to discover musicians, fashion designers and other new talents who have yet to become household names.

“The side of Pakistan that is projected time and time again is negative,” said Zahraa Saifullah, the CEO of Hello! Pakistan. “There is a glamorous side of Pakistan, and we want to tap into that.”
Pakistan already has a series of local publications that chronicle the lives of the wellheeled in major cities like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, especially as they hop between lavish parties. But the producers of Hello! Pakistan hope the magazine’s international brand and greater depth will attract followers.

Hello! was launched in 1988 by the publisher of Spain’s Hola! magazine and is now published in 150 countries. It’s well-known for its extensive coverage of Britain’s royal family and once paid $14 million in a joint deal with People magazine for exclusive pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s newborn twins.

The market for English-language publications in Pakistan is fairly small. Most monthly and weekly magazines sell no more than 3,000 copies, said Khan, the consulting editor. But they hope to tap into the large Pakistani expatriate markets in the United Kingdom and the Middle East as well.

Hello! Pakistan will be published once a month and will cost about $5.50, twice as much as what many poor Pakistanis earn in a day. The first issue will be published in mid-April and will focus on the Pakistani fashion scene.

Saifullah, who grew up watching her mother and grandmother read Hello! as she hopped between London and Karachi, said it took her two years to convince the magazine to publish a local version in Pakistan....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PRI report on journalism in Pakistan:

Lawrence Pintak, dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, is advising journalism students at four universities in Pakistan’s tribal regions, where the Taliban is strongest.

A professor at one of the universities told him, “we need to include conflict safety training in our curriculum,” because students face roadside bombs and Taliban threats while on class assignments, and professors are killed and kidnapped. Campus radio stations are visited regularly by military intelligence and numerous journalists have been threatened, beaten or killed for their work.

Even with the dangers, Pintak said journalism is flourishing in the region, with many men and women signing up for the programs.

Pintak said young Pakistanis are pursuing journalism, “because they want to have a voice. Journalism is another way for them to impact their communities and their country.”

Students have been given radio stations, in part, through USAID, which trains student journalists and act as a force to counter Mullah Radio, extremist pro-Taliban and Sharia law broadcasts.

In both urban and rural tribal areas, Pintak said access to news is thriving. There's also increased opportunities for women.

"The one difference is that the male students may go off to do an internship at a major news organizaton, and, in many cases, the familes don't want the women to leave," he said.

Female students are encouraged to do their internships in the campus radio stations if their families do not want them traveling to the cities.

Their families have reason to fear large cities, as many journalists who have been killed in Pakistan were killed in Karachi and Islamabad. A senior journalist told Pintak a number of journalists in Karachi have been receiving threats.

“Some choose to stay quiet over the matter, but I know of at least four other journalists, some of them who work for the local media, who have also received similar threats from the Taliban,” he said.

Journalists in Pakistan face a number of obstacles and great opposition from the military, extremists and the Taliban.
Pintak said meeting journalism professors from the region put his problems as the head of a journalism school in perspective.

“While we worry about budget cuts, they are literally putting their lives on the line for journalism education, and that’s a very inspiring thing,” he said. "They have students who are cutting up old newspapers and magazines to paste together a newspaper. They're teaching online journalism without computers. When they saw what else we could do, they couldn't suck up enough information."

Pakistan is set to have its first ever journalism awards March 28, in collaboration with the leading press clubs across the country.

The Agahi Awards will hand out accolades in 15 different categories, including business, economy, conflict, corruption, crime, education, infotainment, the connection between water, energy and food security, gender and governance.

In addition, to creating more awareness of social issues, the categories of human rights, interfaith, judiciary, media ethics, terrorism and extremism have also been included. The goal of the awards is to imporove the state of journalism in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on Pak Army setting up its own radio & tv network:

In order to expand media outreach throughout Pakistan, the army is planning to set-up a countrywide radio network parallel to Radio Pakistan and PTV to create what it calls ‘social harmonisation’ and to propagate ‘state vision’ in a ‘vibrant manner.’

After the successful execution of FM radio projects in militancy-hit areas of Swat, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan, a nationwide network of FM radios with a proposed name ‘Apna Pakistan’ is on the cards.

The network will run under the banner of 96 International Radio Network, with the military pulling the strings from behind the scene. Though most of the employees working with the network are civilians, a serving army officer will be the chief executive officer (CEO).

Taliban militants had set up their own network after having destroyed the state media network in Malakand. When the army moved in, it uprooted the militant network and established FM96 Radio Swat which has now been renamed FM96 Radio Pakhtoonkhwa.

Headed by a serving colonel of Pakistan Army, the network has continued to extend its outreach further and another station with coverage in Waziristan and Fata was later established which is now working as FM96 Pakhtoonzar. Yet another one was established for Balochistan named FM96 Vash Noori.

Equipped with state-of-the-art digital technology, the first of its kind in Pakistan, these radio networks are running ‘infotainment’ programmes – mainly local and Indian music – to counter ‘anti-state’ propaganda, officials said.

When the first army sponsored FM radio was set up in Swat, the responsibility of broadcasting was shared by three state organisations. A studio facility was provided by the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), satellite uplink was made available by Pakistan Television (PTV), installation of transmitting stations with recurring expenditures were borne by the army, whereas the ministry of information and broadcasting remained a linchpin.

Set up on February 24, 2009, the network initially used the studios of PBC/Radio Pakistan and the satellite facilities of PTV, but it now has a separate set-up in Islamabad and goes under the name of ‘Nine Six Media House’ where the latest studio facilities are available. Programmes, mostly of an interactive nature, in different dialects of Pashto and Balochi are being broadcast from the newly established office.
The PBC refusal to accommodate did not deter sponsors and now a draft agreement is ready to be signed between Shalimar Recording and Broadcasting Company Limited (SRBC), itself a subsidiary of PTV. The 96 International Radio Network aims to register itself as SRBC’s subsidiary.

However, both organisations will continue to be governed by their own rules and regulations.

ISPR, the media wing of the Pakistan Army, when approached for details of the proposed project, declined to comment. However, the CEO of 96 International Radio Network, during a candid interaction with The Express Tribune, said the network is being planned with the concept of ’socio-cultural broadcast’ to bring social harmony to a society that has been radicalised. He said it is yet to be decided if the network will be a subsidiary of the PBC, SRBC or PTV.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on the first issue of Pakistan edition of Hello magazine:

The first issue of the new Pakistan edition of celebrity and lifestyle magazine Hello! has sold out in three of the country's major cities, the publisher and distributor said Tuesday.

Hello! launched in Pakistan promising a "socially responsible" approach celebrating the best of the country's culture, fashion and glamour.

Publisher Zahraa Saifullah said more than 20,000 copies of the monthly, which features a cover interview with Hollywood star Sean Penn, had been sold across Pakistan since Sunday and hailed the success as a vindication of the strategy.

"Our first issue is not a tabloid but a comprehensive catalogue of the nation's seriously underrepresented bright side; its appeal, grace, beauty and glamour," she told AFP.

"It's because Hello! Pakistan offers substance that it has received such a phenomenal response."

She said the magazine, cover price 395 rupees ($4.40), sold out immediately when it hit newsstands in Karachi and Islamabad on Sunday and the eastern city of Lahore on Monday.

Jamil Hussain, owner of Karachi-based Liberty Books, the largest international distributor in Pakistan, said he had to restock shops in the southern port city -- the country's most populous -- at the weekend. "In my 25 years of experience in this business I have honestly never seen such a beautifully produced magazine. Its no surprise it sold out like hot cakes," Hussain said.

"I personally had to drive on a Sunday to several book shops in Karachi to redeliver stock."

Farid Viyani, owner of Agha's, one of the largest supermarkets in Karachi, said hundreds of copies were sold just in a day.

"I have never seen anything like this. People keep flocking in to buy Hello! our demand is overwhelming, we've given the largest counter to Hello! Pakistan," Viyani said, adding that the new magazine was easily outselling local rival Good Times, known as GT magazine.

Saifullah had a strong response to those who questioned launching a magazine like Hello! in a country so troubled by Islamist violence.

"Hello! Pakistan is not the first lifestyle and entertainment publication this side of the Himalayas and it won't be the last," she said.

"All the local glossies that profile celebrity and lifestyle in the country -- their editors and subjects, as far as we know, have not been picked up by nefarious radicals as of yet."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's journalist-blogger Tayyib Afridi of FATA on radio broadcasting in tribal areas:

A media development organization has engaged five partner radio stations from FATA and KP to train them on professional broadcasting. The partner radio stations have been provided with professional equipment in order to improve working capacity and trainings to strengthen their production skills for the benefit of the local population. These radios are the only government voice in the tribal areas to inform listeners about government development activities. That is why Asadullah and his other colleagues from the same partner radio stations have also been trained in PSA (public service announcement) production.

Mr. Fazal Rahman, station manager of the radio Miranshah and who also attended that training, regarded this training very fruitful. He has also produced PSAs about local government and has solicited applications from students to attend a free skill development program. Fazal, who remained my colleague during our four years broadcasting in FATA, told me that as soon as he broadcast that announcement, he received many calls from listeners inquiring about this opportunity. He was surprised to see how fruitful this activity was. He never experienced this kind of broadcasting which is very short and concise, and he was happy to see that he has engaged destitute local people in constructive activity.

The impoverished tribal regions have no other option to learn about any opportunity provided by the government or non-government organizations except these radios. Twice, I missed cadet college tests during my school period because the only source of news was newspapers and the admission news failed to reach me in real time. Cadet Colleges are special colleges established by government with subsidized fee and high standard and they admit those students who cleared their tests. They every year announced admission with limited seats for general students who can make their way into college. But even today, students and people of the FATA don’t get news in real time.

So, the broadcasting of these five radio stations working in Northwestern Pakistan Tribal areas has attracted large audiences, especially students and women who are more interested in education and health programs. This practice has converted lot of opportunities either from government or non-government into public announcements to reach to larger audiences of FATA. These radios also requested local government to give them permission to start commercial broadcasting in tribal region.

Though, the government has started number of projects to provide basic facilities to public such as health, education, but those were going unnoticed because, there was no mechanism in place to disseminate information to large audiences. The local government of FATA usually issued information to newspapers and televisions and both the mediums lack access to large audiences in FATA, mainly because of illiteracy and power shortage. Therefore, the information failed to reach concerned people, most of the time, which have been living far away in the mountains. For instance, I have heard commercials given by local government to Peshawar FM channels despite knowing that it is not being heard fully in the FATA. Today, most of the scholarships are advertised in the newspapers meant for fata students while knowing that newspaper circulation is few hundred in the whole of FATA...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Huffington Post piece on dangers faced by journalists in Pakistan:

In the context of defense and security cooperation, Britain could offer Pakistan assistance in reversing impunity in the killings of journalists. These murders have been attributed to government officials, criminal gangs, wealthy business owners, and militant groups. Assistance to local police investigators working on these unsolved cases--coupled with a commitment to increase the forensic capabilities of local and national police--would go far in protecting journalists. Increased law enforcement capacity is also in the interest of the broader public.

As for those journalists covering dangerous assignments, Britain could offer two forms of assistance that would have immediate impact:

Getting helmets, body armor, and other protective gear into the hands of at-risk journalists would be an immediate and cost-effective way of protecting lives. In the past, there have been problems getting this gear through Pakistani customs, an issue that could be resolved by the talks in London.
By helping bear the cost of security training to individual journalists--and preparing Pakistani trainers to pass on that knowledge to the larger press corps--British aid could go far in saving lives. Journalist organizations and media companies have taken steps to improve training, but more assistance is needed.

And here is one other proposal: In cooperation with international aid donors and partnering with a Pakistani academic institution of appropriate stature, Britain could help launch a graduate school of journalism in Pakistan. Many newsroom managers say they are hiring journalism students who are eager but not fully prepared. The problem is partly caused by the explosion of demand; Pakistani media has been going through a protracted period of growth for quite a while. But many of Pakistan's media and communications schools don't seem to have the budgets or the programs, in English, Urdu, or Pashto, to meet the industry's demand for newsroom-ready reporters. And if that graduate school of journalism should also host a journalists' safety training program, who would find fault with that?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on new campuses in FATA:

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government on Sunday approved two new campuses of Islamia College University (ICU) at Parachinar and Sadda in Kurram Agency. In this connection, a delegation headed by Senator Ahmad Shukaib Khanzada, ICU Director Campuses Sikandar Khan and ICU Director Project Development Farid Khan visited Parachinar and Sadda in order to review the arrangements for establishment of the facilities, according to a press release. The tribal elders arranged a function at Shoblan and allotted 1,500 kanals for the project. On the directives of K-P Governor Barrister Masood Kausar, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Secretariat will provide the required funds for the two campuses. The initiative shall provide an opportunity of quality higher education to the inhabitants of FATA.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an Op Ed by Ejaz Haider in Express Tribune:

The Express-Freely Tribune (EFT)? The new kid on the block making waves, printing everyone from that obnoxious ISPR-ISI-CIA-RAW-Mossad-DPC agent EH to the respectable, politically correct libs, Pak-style. They are a free for all maila, the EFT-wallahs, even getting the injuns to comment freely. But most of all they are the Twitteratis’ heartthrobs, trending there constantly. Just the kinda paper for the impending blogger-to-become-op-ed-disaster.

Next step, crucial for product positioning, is to select the right topics, issues that get 400 tweets and 2k likes on Facebook and establish you as the best thing that has happened this side of the Gospels. Here’s a guide.

Write about the Deep State. What? You don’t know what Deep State is? What a loser. Deep State is a state within a state. It lies deep, buried under layers of deception. Only a few of the insightful can see it and are privy to its shenanigans. But do not despair. You don’t have to know what it is. The EFT readers get it when they see the phrase Deep State. Just use your conclusion about Deep State as your unstated premise and screw the rest. The phrase has its own 100-tweets-and-500-FB-Likes rating even if you don’t say much else. Simply put, in Pakistan, if you haven’t had a good crap for days, blame it on the Deep State. No, it’s not the Orwellian Big Brother. It’s very Pakistani and there’s nothing literary about it.

Next, but most important and allied with the Deep-State positioning, is your approach to the Pakistan-damned-need-to-be-defenestrated-army. This is an army, just in case you didn’t know this, which Voltaire predicted about. You don’t have to know who the sucker was and when and where he lived. Just remember the name for devil’s sake. You also don’t need to know his contributions to history, philosophy, prose, poetry etcetera (the Twitterati are not interested). You just need to know what he said about an army with a state rather than the other way round. No, he didn’t say it for Prussia. He said it about the Pakistani military. Now stick to this 101 if you don’t want to spoil your chances with the EFT readership.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on the rise of televangelists in Pakistan:

Islamic groups in Pakistan were initially hostile to cable TV because of concerns about "obscene" foreign imports, but religion now dominates the airwaves. A new breed of Islamic TV evangelist has emerged, leading to a confrontation with liberals.

On any day of the week, television in Pakistan is a potent cocktail of soap operas, fiery political debate and, increasingly, pop-Islam.
Farhat Hashmi has been accused of embezzling funds from her television show and fleeing to Canada to avoid prosecution, although she denies any wrongdoing. And Mehar Bukhari, known for her political interviews, sparked outrage by declaring the politician she was speaking to was a heretic.

Another mullah clashed with a Bollywood actress on live television after condemning her behaviour - that clip subsequently became a viral hit.

But the best-known of all the TV evangelists is Dr Amir Liaqat. From a glossy television studio above a parade of run-down shops in Karachi, he had an audience of millions for Alim aur Alam, a live one-hour show that went out five days a week across Pakistan.

The programme allowed Dr Liaqat to play the role of a religious "Agony Uncle", remedying the religious dilemmas of his audience.

In September 2008, Liaqat dedicated an entire episode to exploring the beliefs of the Ahmedis, a Muslim sect which has been declared as "un-Islamic" by much of the orthodoxy. In it, two scholars said that anyone who associated with false prophets was "worthy of murder".

Dr Khalid Yusaf, an Ahmedi Muslim, watched the programme with his family, and says he was shocked that a mainstream channel would broadcast this kind of material.

"They talked about murder as a religious duty. A duty for 'good' Muslims."

Within 24 hours of the broadcast, a prominent member of the Ahmedi community was shot dead in the small town of Mirpur Kass. Twenty-four hours later Khalid Yusaf's father, another Ahmedi community leader, was killed by two masked gunmen.

Liaqat has distanced himself from the shootings. "I have no regrets because it has nothing to do with me," he says. "I'm hurt by what happened and I'm sorry for the families but it has nothing to do with me or anything that was said on my programme."
The "Veena vs the Mullah" incident turned Malik into a symbol of struggle for Pakistani liberals. Mansoor Raza from Citizens for Democracy, a campaign group that has openly supported religious minorities, says Malik's new-found status as a darling of the left is a sign of the times.

"More and more women wearing the niqab, the full face covering now. Many of these are middle-class housewives that watch these religious shows”

"I know housewives who wear the hijab," he says. "They call Veena Malik a hero. She said what we all wanted to say. Our politicians are failing us and so it's left to film stars like Veena Malik to speak out."
Liaqat says these programmes have appeal because they educate. "I want to spread a message of love. Despite all the controversy I am still here and audiences love me because people want to learn about religion. That's why people watch these programmes. People want to learn."

Badar Alam, editor of the Karachi Herald, believes that television could be changing the way Islam is practised in Pakistan - for instance, more women wearing the niqab.

He believes that middle-class housewives who tune into the religious shows are learning cultural practices that are quite alien to Pakistan.

The flux between mainstream Pakistani Islam and a more hardline version of the faith is being fought out on Pakistani TV screens each day.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on the launch of Warner Brothers' WB channel in Pakistan:

Lahore (PR) - Turner Broadcasting Systems Asia Pacific, Inc. is to launch a new entertainment channel in Pakistan - WB. Available in homes across Pakistan from today, WB is Turner’s brand new 24-hour, English entertainment channel. This launch bolsters Turner’s commitment to consistently fulfil the entertainment needs of Pakistan viewers. It will serve as the premiere destination for all Hollywood enthusiasts offering the biggest hit movies, hottest action, best drama, funniest series and brightest stars from the world’s most prolific studio, Warner Bros., in a sleek and exciting environment.

WB will be distributed in Pakistan through Homecast Entertainment Private Limited and will be made available to advertisers by TBS Pakistan with the help of their ad sales representatives Strategic Alliances.

The channel is targeted at an upscale urban audience with an appetite for quality programming and 24-hour Hollywood content. WB will bring the best of award winning Hollywood entertainment to TV sets in Pakistan.

WB is Pakistan’s gateway to Hollywood! This premiere destination is meant for all Hollywood aficionados, offering the biggest movies, hottest action, best dramas, funniest series and the brightest stars from the world’s most prolific studio. Showcasing programming licensed from Warner Bros., WB is aimed at a Pakistan audience with a colossal appetite for Hollywood’s best content, around the clock. WB is a 24-hour, English-language entertainment channel from Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc. Now that’s Hollywood!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NewsTribe on CNN affiliate channel in Pakistan:

Karachi: Cable News Network affiliated Urdu news channel Dais will start its transmission soon in Pakistan.

Dais will feature selected CNN programming and news, dubbed in Urdu in addition to its own quality coverage of Pakistan and the diaspora. Dais has its corporate headquarters in Lahore and bureaus in Islamabad and Karachi.

In this regard, Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc.’s CNN International and Pakistan’s Associated Group (AG) have signed a broadcast affiliate agreement for the upcoming Pakistani news channel, Dais.

The agreement provides Dais, which will broadcast in the Urdu language, access to a range of CNN video and newsgathering resources. The agreement also grants CNN reciprocal access to Dais’s news coverage of Pakistan to complement its own English-language reporting from its Islamabad bureau and regional resources. CNN will also provide professional training to Dais’s newsgathering team.

“This broadcast agreement will enable us to augment our high-quality coverage of news and events both in Pakistan and abroad by utilizing newsgathering support from CNN,” said Dais chief executive Fasih Ahmed. “Dais will provide fully contextualized information and analyses. We will present news that matters to our viewers in an in-depth, engaging, and energetic format helping them form well honed opinions. Our objective is to create premium news with style, dignity and grace,” said Ahmed.

“Dais now joins the select ranks of CNN broadcast affiliates who form an extensive and unparalleled global network and with which CNN International enjoys mutually-beneficial, reciprocal broadcasting relationships,” said Ringo Chan, Senior Vice President, CNN Broadcast Services and Affiliate Relations, Asia Pacific. “We look forward to working with Dais to provide CNN programming, training and video as they develop their network.”

Dais is AG’s flagship media project. AG, established in 1965, is one of Pakistan’s premier business houses. AG’s first media enterprise, Newsweek Pakistan, is being published under license from The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company, LLC since 2010.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on TV matchmaking in Pakistan:

Matchmaking shows have been staples of Pakistani TV for several years now, with many couples choosing to seek romance and future partners under the full gaze of television cameras.

In a society where choosing partners has traditionally been the responsibility of family elders, many believe more modern paths to romance such as this, could slowly be changing attitudes.

However, televised weddings are still a controversial subject, as BBC Urdu's Iram Abbasi reports.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on Samsung's marketing push in Pakistan:

Samsung, a global leader in consumer electronics, is aiming to secure a larger share of the Pakistani market by the end of this year. Its action plan includes advertising heavily on all platforms available, with a special focus on brand shops, providing brand awareness, and introducing a range of products under one roof.

“In the televisions market, Samsung in Pakistan currently enjoys a 38% share, which we are aiming to increase up to 50% by the end of 2013,” Amir Shahzad, Samsung Pakistan’s Retail and Channel Management head (Consumer Electronics) recently told The Express Tribune.

Though Samsung offers a wide range of products, including smartphones, personal computers, printers, cameras, home appliances, medical devices, semiconductors and LED solutions, the company’s Pakistani management is focusing specifically on the television segment by introducing the latest plasma TVs, LED TVs, home theatres and other home appliances.

The management says the company is benefitting from the rise of the Pakistani middle class. The global economic downturn – which forced many other electronic brands like Sony, Sharp and JVC to minimise operations in Pakistan – is another factor that has provided Samsung the opportunity to step in and capture the large domestic market.

Samsung operates through 550 dealerships in Pakistan, spread over the length and breadth of the country, through which a complete range of products is available to consumers. More recently, the rising trend of multinational retail outlets in large cities has forced the management to introduce brand shops in the country which showcase the latest Samsung products. The 30 “strategically-located” brand shops offer genuine Samsung warranties for 3D Smart TVs, LED and LCD TVs, monitors, plasma display panels, IT products, cameras and home appliances.

“Our latest appliances are relatively higher-end, but we are also targeting the rising middle class. These retail outlets are providing us a wonderful platform to promote our brand,” Shahzad said.

The staff in each shop guides consumers in buying the right products according to their demands and budgets, Shahzad explained. “Such shops also provide technical assistance and after-sales guarantee and maintenance facilities to the customer,” he added.

“The Samsung Brand Shop is a revolutionary business model for the Samsung retail brand, from where all retailers can learn and emulate building a consistent branding approach,” Shahzad claimed.

However, like other multinationals, Samsung is reluctant to invest directly in Pakistan. At this stage, it is not even considering starting a proper assembling or manufacturing plant for its products in the country. It does assemble a handful of its products in country, but that is a tiny operation compared to its global operations, and Shahzad says the sole purpose of this business is to circumvent import duties and enable Samsung to compete in the local market at better rates.

That leaves Samsung’s sole focus on heavy advertisement in order to register itself in the minds of the masses. “We want every Pakistani to use Samsung products, for which we are using every possible advertising channel, whether electronic and print media, road shows, brand shops, social media, promotion schemes, online advertisements,” Shahzad said.

“We believe that advertising heavily is a strategy which will help us achieve our targets and make Samsung the country leader in all the different products offered by the company,” he added.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Taan, Pakistani version of Glee:

Gay romance, Islamic extremism and a soundtrack of classic love songs make for Pakistan's taboo-breaking answer to the hugely successful US television series Glee.
Like its smash hit forerunner, Taan follows the lives and loves of a group of young people who regularly burst into song. But this time they attend a music academy in Lahore, instead of an American high school.
Taan - which is a musical note in Urdu - tackles subjects considered off limits in Pakistan's deeply conservative Muslim society, with plotlines including love affairs between two men and between a Taliban extremist and a beautiful Christian girl.

The plan is for the 26-episode series to air in September or October, and while producer Nabeel Sarwar insisted the program was not a "political pulpit", he is determined to take on the tough issues.

"Nobody wants to have controversy for the sake of controversy, nobody wants to have an assignment to violence, nobody wants to push a button that would result in a disaster for anyone," he said.
"But the truth has to come out somewhere. Where are we going to put a line in the sand and say, 'Look, this is what we are'?"
Taking a public stand to defend liberal values like this is rare in Pakistan, where forces of religious conservatism have risen steadily in recent years.
Risque scenes in foreign films are routinely cut by the authorities and the team behind Taan are acutely aware that they must tread carefully with their challenging material.
In one scene the two gay lovers dance and sing in a small room but never embrace - their relationship is suggested rather than overtly shown. The moment is interrupted when a radical Islamist character bursts in.
Director Samar Raza said representing the lives of gay characters was difficult in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.
"Let's say in a certain scene, there are two boys talking to each other, they are not allowed to show their physical attachment to each other," he said.
"So I bring a third character who says: 'God designed Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve'."
It is not only the sensibilities of the censors the producers must navigate.
While 70 per cent of Pakistan's population is under 35, a huge and potentially lucrative audience for advertisers, it is the head of the household who decides what families watch on TV, explains Sarwar.
"The head of the household during the day is the matriarch and the head of the household at night is the patriarch - they control access to TV," he said.
"You have to find programming that allows the matriarch and the patriarch to join in and participate, but there has to be room for the younger audience."
In a bid to appeal to older viewers the makers of Taan have licensed around 100 classic Pakistani songs, some by legendary artists such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and have reworked them to suit modern tastes, as Glee does.
"We try to find music that resonates with the older generation which control the access to the TV but we contemporise that music so that the younger audience does not feel left out," Sarwar said.
The show hopes that by taking on difficult issues in a light-hearted way it will both reflect the changing nature of Pakistani society and attract a young audience currently hooked on imported Turkish soap operas.
Local dramas struggle to compete with the likes of Manahil and Khalil and Ishq-e-Mamnu (Forbidden Love) - Turkish serials starring Westernised characters with fair skin and dubbed into Urdu.
Turkish soaps are widely watched across the Muslim world, but the popularity of Ishq-e-Mamnu has prompted a lively debate about the "Turkish invasion" of the small screen in Pakistan, with local production companies complaining that they do not have the resources to rival them....

Read more:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about free Wikipedia access for Mobilink's pre-paid customers:

Mobilink has launched Wikipedia Zero with the aim of providing its customers with free access to the world’s largest general reference database. The source will be available for Mobilink’s prepaid customers who will have free access round the clock to the full mobile version of Wikipedia. Mobilink customers will also be able to view these articles in Urdu on supported handsets.
Farid Ahmad, Vice President Marketing Mobilink commenting on the launch of Wikipedia Zero said, “As Pakistan’s leading mobile internet provider we are proud to partner with the world’s sixth largest website to offer our customers free access to Wikipedia.
We hope that our customers will enjoy browsing through Wikipedia on Pakistan’s fastest mobile data network.’’
The service is available for all new and existing prepaid customers free of cost by accessing Wikipedia at OR from either their native mobile browser or through Opera Mini.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on middle class powering FMCG growth in Pakistan:

Procter & Gamble (P&G), one of the world’s largest consumer goods company, has recognised Pakistan as one of the top 10 emerging markets to focus investment in. This sounds like good news for our cash-strapped economy, and it is equally good news for those who have invested in P&G.
It makes sense for any fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) to invest in a country where the world’s biggest consumer goods names – Unilever, P&G, Nestle and Mondel-z (formerly Kraft Foods) – are not only operating, but also growing significantly.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan, the net profits of FMCG companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange grew in excess of 20% in fiscal year (FY) 2011-12. P&G, which is not listed on the KSE, has witnessed tremendous growth in revenues during the past three years – including 50% revenue growth in FY2012. Besides the consumer goods sector, its supporting industries like packaging and distribution companies have also seen their toplines grow significantly.
So what are the factors contributing to this growth?
If the fact that these companies are selling essential food items and consumer goods in the world’s sixth-largest market by consumer size is not satisfying enough for you, here’s a more detailed and nuanced explanation.
“Economics and demographics are together at play in Pakistan,” P&G Pakistan Country Manager Faisal Sabzwari told this correspondent in a recent interview. The boom in the rural economy has also been a major contributor to their growth – thanks to a series of bumper crops of agricultural produce and wheat support prices, which were raised by the government in recent years.
Besides this, according to Sabzwari, Pakistan is one of the top countries adding 20-somethings to its workforce; these are the people establishing families, getting new jobs and helping market sizes grow.
“We have millions of consumers entering independent disposable income space in their lives every year,” Sabzwari said, while referring to the growing middle class.
The market size in Pakistan has also grown in terms of volumes, without taking pricing into account. “Increasing urbanisation and the growing middle class are key drivers of the FMCG business,” Sabzwari said.
Pakistan’s is urbanising faster than other developing countries, according to Sabzwari. “The country’s population is growing at under 3%, while the rate of migration to urban centres is even higher,” according to Muzammil Aslam, managing director at Emerging Markets Rsearch.
“A population base of 180 million talented and hard-working people hungry for prosperity ensures that nothing can hold this country back from growing,” P&G Pakistan’s chief said. While looking at the growing middle class, he said, it is important to look at their consumption habits. “We are exposing more consumers to value brands like Pampers and Always,” he explained.
It may be added here that consumer spending in Pakistan has increased by an average of 26% in three years, according to a Bloomberg report published on November 21, 2012 – a strong sign that people are consuming more goods than ever before.
This rise in consumer demand has spurred the growth of supermarkets across major urban centres, which include, but are no longer limited to Karachi, Hyderabad, Multan, Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad.
Such superstores are getting larger and asking manufacturers for broader brand portfolios in order to serve their customers better. They have larger shelves, enabling them to have more sophisticated and developed categories in which they can stock more products than ever before....

Riaz Haq said...

Why is the English laguage so dominant and widely used today? It's because language does not exist or grow in vacuum. As a means of communication, it reflects the state of the people whose language it is. The global ascendance of the English language has coincided with the rise of the Anglo-Saxon people beginning with the Industrial Revolution in 18th century England. It marked a dramatic shift of global power from East to West.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on how people meters skew media coverage in Pakistan:

IT was some time in the first half of 2009 that I got a call from my director news telling me that the newsroom was now looking for more stories from the city of Faisalabad because the people meter, the ratings tool, had just been installed in that city.

For the first time, ratings were going to be reported from Faisalabad, and all the channels were rushing to up their coverage of stories from the city so as to capture the ratings that were going to be reported from there.

So suddenly the bureau chiefs in Faisalabad started to come under pressure to increase their story counts.

Anyone who has ever worked in television news knows how reporters and bureau chiefs complain about how their area gets neglected by the folks in the newsroom, how they bring in all these wonderful stories but the folks in the newsroom don’t run them.

This time, however, suddenly the tables were turned. Faisalabad had been a bit of a backwater in the news business until then, with small bureaus and small staffs and a trickle of news coming out occasionally that held any interest outside the city.

But suddenly, there was an inordinate amount of interest in news from the city, and bureaus found themselves inundated with demands for packages and news and what we used to call ‘chunks’ in the parlance of our rundown producers at the time.

And this is what happened. All the reporters worked their contacts for news and sound bites and other tidbits. Almost all of them started reporting the same story: Faisalabad was experiencing large spells of load-shedding, and power loom owners were protesting outside the offices of the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco).

There’s no news like live news, and almost instantly the orders came from the newsroom to send a DSNG van to the site of the protests and prepare for a live uplink.

For the first time, Faisalabad saw itself live on air on the major channels, and very quickly the size of the protests swelled. As the numbers grew, so did the amplitude, and very quickly tyres were brought out to be burned.

Burning tyres make for great footage, there’s fire and smoke and commotion all around them, and if you position the camera right, you can catch pictures of huge columns of smoke rising above an agitating mob. The newsrooms loved it, and the more they stayed live on scene, the more agitated the scene became.

The whole thing ended with the mob storming the Fesco offices. The anchors screamed about a crisis brewing in the city, as the screen showed looped footage of a mob smashing windows and chasing Fesco staff. That night the talk shows were abuzz as opposition politicians railed at the government for allowing matters to come to this.

“I saw someone there beating an electric pole with a stick!” shouted one fellow on a talk show. “That’s how mad people are over there! Good thing you weren’t there sir,” he taunted the government representative on the show, “else it would’ve been you they would’ve been beating with that stick!”

Faisalabad was propelled into the national news flow very suddenly, and the immediate arrival of the television spotlight had a very damaging impact on that city initially.
The power riot found no such national leadership, only sporadic and very opportunistic local leaders who were easily co-opted or sidelined, and therefore has largely vanished from the scene. In the final days of the interim government, load-shedding had hit a peak never before seen in the country, but the streets by and large remained calm.

The media’s mirror is a dangerous tool. It reflects the reality it sees, but reflects it selectively. The television spotlight can illuminate, but it can also incinerate the reality upon which it is trained.

Riaz Haq said...

India has 4G wireless service in a handful of cities, Afghanistan has 3G nationwide, Bangladesh is rolling out a nationwide 3G network, and even Nepal has 3G in major cities. That leaves Pakistan as the only country in South Asia without a high-speed mobile network. The country’s notoriously activist supreme court is trying to force the government into holding the spectrum auction needed to launch 3G services in early 2014—but the country’s equally notorious bureaucracy looks likely to delay things.
Pakistan, with a population of 180 million and 125 million mobile subscriptions, has come close to holding the spectrum auction several times over the last five years. Each time proceedings have been delayed on a technicality.
Warn-torn Afghanistan managed to avoid such a quagmire by simply not holding an auction—it simply distributed spectrum licenses to the providers. The government argued that the economic boost from acquiring 3G was more valuable than the one-off windfall from an auction that could become marred in controversy.
Bangladesh gave a 3G license to the state-owned mobile provider, Teletalk, in 2012, and held an auction for the other mobile operators in September 2013. BTRC, Bangladesh’s telecom regulator, has been applauded for not allowing the government’s fiscal concerns to hijack the agenda and set the reserve price for the auction too high—the mistake made in India.
But the Pakistan Telecoms Authority (PTA), the regulator, has been without a chief since the last time a spectrum auction was scheduled, in 2012. Plans came to a halt when the PTA said the telecoms operators and other interested bidders had failed to submit an expression of interest in time. The mobile operators, who have been long dogged by fickle government policies and strong competition, said they were never invited to bid.
The then-chairman of the PTA lost his job over the incident. His nominated successor was challenged by the opposition parties last October, and the two other members of PTA’s committee retired at the start of this year, effectively leaving the telecoms industry in a state of anarchy. Now a public-interest case currently in the supreme court has pushed the government into some semblance of action. It finally appointed an acting chairman and new PTA members early last month to oversee the auction, and set a February 2014 deadline for holding it.
However, more delays are possible. The government has now put out an advertisement for an international consultant to help with the auction. Case lawyer Ali Raza says that’s an unnecessary delaying tactic; he argues that everything is ready to go, and that the auction needs to happen quickly to avoid special interests marring the process. The next likely stumbling block is where the money from the auction will actually go. The finance ministry wants it to flow directly into the exchequer—a windfall that was somewhat prematurely written into the 2013-14 budget, announced in June. However, by law the money is meant to go to a universal service fund, set up as part of the 1996 telecoms policy (pdf) to make sure remote areas of Pakistan get telecoms service. The wrangle over that could occupy the courts for a good while.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story on a Pakistani journalist in small town America:

The workday was done, and I gave Malik a ride to his hotel. Before he disappeared through the doors of the Embassy Suites, he smiled and asked me to wait. He had something for me.

He returned from his room and presented me with a sleeveless jacket and wool cap -- the kind commonly worn by men in Pakistan, his homeland, where he would soon be returning after three weeks in Charleston and the Gazette newsroom.

Yaqoob Malik is a reporter -- an investigative reporter, as he will proudly tell you -- at an English-language paper called Dawn in the Attock area of Pakistan.

Earlier this year, he and several hundred other Pakistani reporters applied to the International Center for Journalists, which was arranging a State Department-funded trip to the U.S. and a chance to work with and observe an American newspaper.

Only 20 of the applicants made the cut. It was literally the opportunity of a lifetime for Malik (as he prefers to be called).

But while the other journalists drew assignments at big newspapers in New York, Miami and so on, he was being sent to Charleston, a place none of them had heard of, and the smallest town on the list.

This drew some good-natured ribbing from a few of the others and left Malik a bit crestfallen.

But, as Malik describes it, when he landed among the hilltops at Yeager Airport, each sporting its showy autumnal best, he knew that he would have the last laugh.

And while many of the larger newspapers brought their visitors along slowly, in true Gazette fashion, we threw Malik right into the fray. He published a story in the first few days of his visit, before any of the others, and from there, he was off to the races.

"I only have (fill in the blank) days left here," he would tell me the minute he finished each story and asked for another. "I want to do as much as I can."

Malik covered local Muslim issues, focused on people in our area of Pakistani descent and wrote columns about the political situation in his homeland.

His command of English and the written word were certainly better than my Urdu, but his stories, as you might guess, needed a good deal of editing and explanation in order to bring the West Virginia audience up to speed on his topics.

As I worked with him on the stories, so began my Pakistani education.

Malik was supposed to be here learning from me and the others at the Gazette, but it soon became clear that my schooling on Pakistan, its people and the obstacles facing its reporters was just as thorough, if not greater, than what he took away.

On a recent weekend morning, as I stood in my kitchen drinking a cup of coffee, I heard my phone chirp. It was an email from Malik. He had sent me the story he had filed for Dawn that day.

It was full of protests and beatings, anger and death. Reading it from the serene safety of West Virginia, I quickly realized that my new friend was in a spot neither serene, nor safe.

Pakistani journalists risk their lives to tell the truth. Government and police protections are nearly non-existent. Kidnappings and assaults of journalists are rampant.

Malik shrugs off the fact that his home was ransacked a few years ago.

"Sometimes, my children will ask, 'Why, Papa, do you have write that?'" he said, but he soldiers on, performing a service absolutely crucial to the advancement of his country.

While he was here, Malik would often marvel at how beautiful Charleston is, how friendly its people are, how calm life is here. For him, it was the perfect place to carry out his American assignment, and it likely won't be the last time he sees the West Virginia hills, if he has his way.

He plans to bring his wife and children for a visit to Charleston next summer.

So, until then, stay safe, my friend.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on the launch of OK! fashion magazine in Pakistan:

The creeping Talibanisation of Pakistan is a phrase that has no meaning here. Against all odds, Pakistan's fashion and celebrity industry continues to flourish.

After the launch of the international publication Hello! Magazine several years ago, it is now OK! Magazine's turn to 'expose' itself to Pakistanis.

The launch took place at the Mohatta Palace. With a fully-stocked buffet of pastries, wasabi sandwiches, smoked salmon, crostinis and chocolate mousse, the early birds at the event got to sample the "tomato tapanede"... And other fancy-sounding unpronounceable food.
OK! Magazine currently has over 50 million readers worldwide. Speaking to, on bringing it to Pakistan, Aamna Haider Isani -- also one of Pakistan's top fashion journalists -- said "It's been a labour of love. And it took several months to put it together. People thought, 'what's the big deal? Just put it together!' But, no...every single page had to be sent to London for approval. They were very particular about the tiniest of things which is great."

"Their philosophy is simple: it has to be about celebrities, it has to be positive, the tone has to be upbeat. We intend to redefine celebrities in Pakistan. More than just people who look nice and dress nice. We want to promote 'real' heroes. People who have achieved something in life."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a National Geographic report on Radio Mashaal Pashto radio countering FM Radio Mullah in FATA:

In this edition of Digital Diversity, Zydrone Krasauskiene, Editorial Manager of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, explains how they try to prevent those extremists from robbing the people of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and Afghanistan of their voice. By broadcasting in Pashto to the people of the FATA through their station, Radio Mashaal, they have taken back the airwaves, making a place where listeners can finally have the chance to articulate and discuss the real problems, debates and events that make up their everyday lives.

But the station doesn’t just provide information. FrontlineSMS software has opened up new frontiers for Radio Mashaal – literally – by creating a completely new and unorthodox way of making interactivity possible for the people of the FATA. By enabling listeners to talk back to the radio, they can counter the voice of the extremists and draw attention to issues that really affect them. In some cases, this citizen journalism has embarrassed the government into acting to resolve problems affecting the people of the FATA. Using mobile technology, Radio Mashaal has opened up a space for debate, advocacy, music and joking in one of the most isolated places in the world.

Digital Diversity is a series of blog posts from FrontlineSMS about how mobile phones are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives....

Riaz Haq said...

The idea to establish the clinics grew out of Radio Mashaal’s weekly call-in show, “Health and Treatment,” which provides audiences with information on different health issues each week, either based on seasonal ailments or listener requests.

In its fourth year on the air, the program is hosted by Radio Mashaal reporter Pamir Sahil, and the primary medical contributor is Doctor Muhammad Irfanullah. In addition to the hour the doctor dedicates to the program each week, he also makes himself available for advice by telephone two hours each day. But with the demand for medical care so great, Radio Mashaal recognized that more resources were needed.

“People in this area are very poor. They cannot afford to travel, and then pay for the treatment, and then pay to stay in the big cities,” said Radio Mashaal Service Director Mohammad Amin Mudaqiq. “This is a very huge burden for these villagers, who have nothing.”

Moreover, fighting between militants in the region and government forces has decimated whatever medical facilities were available, and driven out medical personnel who feared for their safety.

To help fill the gap in services, Doctor Irfanullah, with the help of Radio Mashaal, launched the first temporary clinic in February in the city of Bannu in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near North Waziristan. The clinic offered free examinations, lab tests and small-scale surgeries. It drew over 350 patients, and Irfanullah had to work nearly around the clock for three days in order to see everyone.

“The number of calls to the program had been increasing and people expressed hopelessness, that they had no means to treat themselves. Only speaking was not enough,” said Mudaqiq, explaining the initiative.

A second clinic was held in Bannu on March 9. Irfanullah recruited a team of ten volunteer doctors who traveled 300 kilometers south from Peshawar and managed to treat almost 500 patients.

"We have come from Razmak, North Waziristan," said Abdul Sareer as he waited at the clinic on March 9. "We heard about this clinic through Radio Mashaal's 'Health and Treatment' show. In that program Dr. Irfanullah from Peshawar participates, so we came to know about the clinic. About 400 or 500 people have come here."

"I've been treated for 25 years. I changed medicines many times, but it had no impact," said a Pashto woman who declined to give her name. "When I heard about the free clinic on Radio Mashaal, I came here. After the first treatment in last month’s free clinic I am here again and I feel better."

Doctor Irfanullah and Radio Mashaal plan to continue holding these clinics monthly, and have announced plans to hold an April clinic as close to the isolated tribal areas as possible.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting piece from Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) on Pakistani media:

Pakistan’s raucous and increasingly lethal media sector is exerting a powerful effect on decision-making in the country, even though journalists themselves are divided on whether their influence is positive or negative. That’s the key finding of a survey of more than 350 Pakistani journalists, policymakers, and academics. ..... More than two-thirds of policymakers surveyed said the media has a “significant” effect on their decision-making and 94 percent said they “always” or “sometimes” take media reaction into account before making a decision. That group includes current and former government officials and analysts at policy think tanks and civil society organizations. Those policymakers actually have a more positive view of the media than journalists themselves. More journalists and academics believe the media makes societal divisions worse than say media helps heal those divisions; it’s exactly the reverse among policymakers. Likewise, far more policymakers than journalists and academics believe the impact of private TV has been positive. Pakistani foreign and domestic policies are inextricably linked, shaped by a complex web of political, military, and sectarian factors. Media is one element in that equation. Just over half the journalists defined as “significant” the media’s impact on relations with the U.S. and with India, Pakistan’s key rival for power in South Asia; policymakers and academics agreed with the journalists regarding the U.S., but slightly more than half the policymakers and academics said the media’s influence was “minimal” or “none” when it came to relations with India. All three groups surveyed are united in overwhelmingly believing the media has played a “significant” role in exposing corruption, though a sizable minority of journalists were more cynical, seeing their role as “insignificant.” Pakistan is locked in a virtual civil war with Islamist militants, both home-grown and from Afghanistan. Even on this complicated issue, more than one-third of those surveyed from each group believes the media has a “significant” impact on relations with the militants, who recently issued a fatwa against the media, which it declared to be a “party” to “this war on Islam.” The willingness of Pakistani journalists to speak truth to power has consistently proven lethal. In the four years since TV deregulation sparked an explosion of private television channels, there have been almost twice as many deaths as the previous decade, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the most infamous of which was the 2011 torture and murder of investigative reporter Saleem Shahzad, who, like Hamid Mir, claimed he had been threatened by Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence wing, but who also had just published a book on the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Yet the complex calculation involved in determining what kinds of stories could prove fatal and which push the envelope just short of that point is reflected in the responses to the question, “Can journalists report sensitive stories without fear of reprisals?” Almost 30 percent of journalists responded “yes,” double the percentage of policymakers and academics who thought that was the case, and another 30 percent of journalists said they could “sometimes” tackle such stories. Pakistan is a nation of contradictions, not least when it comes to the news industry. Nothing better sums up those contradictions than the response to the question: “Should government officials mislead the media if they think it is in the national interest?” At a time when Pakistani journalists are dying in the pursuit of truth, the response seemed to turn reality on its head: More policymakers than journalists said “no,” the government should not have that right.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times' Declan Walsh on the Hamid Mir Affair:

...The vituperative exchanges have exposed troubling aspects of Pakistan’s oft-lauded media revolution: Along with the military’s concerted campaign to muzzle the press is the heavy hand of querulous media barons who, driven by commercial concerns and personal grudges, may be endangering the sector they helped create.

“The way this has played out is extremely disturbing,” said Zaffar Abbas, editor of Dawn newspaper, one of the few media outlets that have stayed out of the dispute. “I’ve never seen the media like this, really going after one other. If better sense doesn’t prevail, whatever we have earned in press freedom will be lost.”

The stakes are high on all sides. Since 2007, when television coverage played a key role in fanning the street protests that led to the ouster of General Musharraf, the news media has grown into a powerful factor in Pakistani society. Television news has widened public debate and exposed abuses, but it has faced sharp criticism for shoddy reporting and for giving a platform to Islamist extremists.

The exploding market has also turned prime-time talk show hosts like Mr. Mir into powerful figures, and made fortunes for a handful of newly minted media tycoons.


“It is supremely dangerous to be a reporter in Pakistan,” he said.

The military, in particular, has squirmed under the media’s relentless scrutiny. Tensions have been bubbling for some time between the Jang Group, the country’s largest media conglomerate, and the ISI. Jang is owned by Mir Shakil ur-Rehman, a reclusive editor who lives with his two wives in Dubai, where he keeps a tight grip on a media empire that includes Geo News, several sports and entertainment channels, and a stable of newspapers in Urdu and English.

Last fall, Mr. Rehman came to believe that the ISI was sponsoring a new television station, Bol, to dilute his commercial and political clout. His newspapers ran hostile reports about Bol, prompting competing media organizations to hit back with stories that painted Geo as sympathetic to Pakistan’s old rival, India.
Unlike in the Musharraf era, when journalists united against military attempts to muzzle them, virulent rivalries between the businessmen who own the major stations have pulled the news media apart.

Mr. Rehman of the Jang group has a rancorous relationship with Sultan Lakhani, who owns the smaller Express media group, which includes a television station and several newspapers. (One of those papers, the English-language Express Tribune, prints The International New York Times in Pakistan.) A third station, ARY, is owned by a family of gold dealers that has little love for Mr. Rehman.

“The control of the owners and their say in what happens has increased tremendously,” said one editor, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “No editor or journalist can take a stand against them.”

The turmoil has partly obscured the plight of Mr. Mir, who has an ambiguous history with the ISI. He shot to prominence after interviewing Osama bin Laden in 1998, and was initially seen as sympathetic to the pro-jihadi agenda of the Pakistani military and the ISI. But in recent years he has championed the cause of Baluch nationalists, angering the army, and highlighted human rights abuses during military operations.

He is now under close protection at a Karachi hospital, where flowers are piled outside his door and doctors report a steady recovery. In a statement issued through his brother, Mr. Mir vowed to “continue the fight for the rights of people till my last breath and last drop of blood.”....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Wall Street Journal on Geo-Jang Group Media Mogul vs Military:

Media mogul Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has played an outsized role in shaping Pakistan's politics in recent years. Now, his empire is struggling for survival after colliding with the country's most powerful institution: the military establishment.

The clash was sparked by the shooting last month of Hamid Mir, the star journalist of Mr. Rahman's Geo TV channel. Geo reporters alleged on broadcasts that the military's main spy agency was behind the attack. The military angrily denied the claim, and is now pushing to shut the network.

On Tuesday, Pakistan's media regulator will begin hearings on whether to close the channel.

The controversy is reversing fragile gains made by increasingly assertive Pakistani media over the past decade, analysts and media professionals say.

"Media has become a power center in Pakistan," said Absar Alam, an anchor at Aaj News, a competing news channel. "That has triggered alarm among traditional power players who think that they should have the exclusive right to shape opinion."

Central to the drama is Dubai-based Mr. Rahman, who owns Pakistan's biggest-selling newspaper, the Urdu-language Jang, in addition to Geo, the leading TV news channel.

According to employees, Mr. Rahman is intimately involved with editorial decisions at both outlets, which have pushed for the prosecution of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, campaigned for peace with archenemy India, and highlighted the abduction of suspected militants by security forces. Geo was also instrumental in bringing to an end Mr. Musharraf's regime in 2008 with heavy coverage of an opposition movement led by lawyers that made a hero out of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The political sway of his media empire has alarmed some Pakistanis, including rival media organizations, the military and some politicians.

"If one person has the power to set the political agenda, that is frightening," said Moeed Pirzada,an anchor at the competing Express News, which has echoed military criticism of Geo. "He is running a monopoly."

The boldness of Mr. Rahman's media group mirrors the larger struggle between civilian and military forces for power as a country ruled by the army for half its history tries to develop democratically. Mr. Rahman's publications were critical of the previous civilian government of Pakistan Peoples Party, which barred its members from appearing on Geo for more than a year in protest. They offered friendlier coverage of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, elected a year ago. Mr. Sharif, in turn, is widely seen as supporting Mr. Rahman in his confrontation with the military. Mr. Sharif visited Mr. Mir after the assassination attempt but denied he was taking sides. The government established a judicial commission to investigate the shooting and denied any conflict of interests.

"Geo was somewhat softer on this government," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a security analyst. "There is a feeling in military circles that after the shooting, Geo reacted this way because they had some kind of government support."
Some Pakistani media industry leaders say that Mr. Rahman may have miscalculated with his decision to run the accusations against the ISI in such a stark way. This overreach, they say, is allowing the military to respond by taming all coverage of its activities and to divide civilian forces.

"The space for the military establishment was shrinking," said an executive at another television channel. "He has given the game back to the military."

Riaz Haq said...

MasterChef Pakistan, which took the country by storm and had everyone glued to their television screens, has been nominated for the prestigious 19th Asian Television Awards (ATA) and has become the first Pakistani reality show to be nominated for an international accolade.

The show has been nominated in the 'Best Adaptation of an Existing Format' category. Other nominees in the category include:

Asia's Next Top Model Cycle 2 (Hong Kong)
The Brain (China)
Junior MasterChef Swaad Ke Ustaad (India)
The Apprentice Asia (Asia)
The Voice of the Philippines (Philippines)
Trinny & Susannah's Makeover Mission India - Murphy and Kanika (Singapore)
The ATA aims to reward hard working individuals in the media industry all over the continent. According to the official ATA website, this year has seen 239 nominees, across 38 categories, sprawling over 13 countries – and MasterChef Pakistan is one of them.

The 2013 ATA was televised regionally on STAR World and Channel [V], FOX International Channels leading general entertainment channel and music channel, respectively, reaching to some 28 million households in over 10 countries, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Macau, Middle East and some other smaller Asian markets.

Chef and Executive Asst. Manager Khurram Awan of Movenpick Hotels Karachi and celebrity Chef Zakir Qureshi and Chef Mehboob Khan are the judges on MasterChef Pakistan. The show is an intense, competitive cooking reality television game show based on the original British MasterChef.

Riaz Haq said...

Washington: Television rules the media domain in Pakistan with more than three-fourths of adult population relying on it for news and information, according to a recent US survey.
"Television is by far the most important platform for news and information.
"We see that even when power is in short supply, people still find a way to watch," William Bell, director of audience insights at the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) said.

BBG released media research data found that 76.2 per cent of adult population watches TV while mobile phones were also becoming more common, signalling a possible shift in the way Pakistanis engage with media.
But there is a significant gap in information access between those with access to cable (45 per cent) and satellite (14 per cent), who have a much broader level of access, compared to those with only terrestrial (21 per cent) or no TV, Bell added.
The data found that Pakistani adults relied less on new media, and mobiles are not yet widely used for Internet access.
Although the majority of Pakistani adults (56 per cent) report having a mobile phone, the phones are commonly used primarily for sending messages or making calls, the report said.
"Mobile has a lot of room to grow, as 3G is just now taking off in Pakistan," said Bell.
Pakistani adults who did consume media on less popular platforms such as radio and Internet tended to do so on their mobile devices.
Mobile is the main medium of listening to the radio (62 per cent of radio listeners).

Riaz Haq said...

“Television is by far the most important platform for news and information. We see that even when power is in short supply, people still find a way to watch,” said William Bell, director of audience insights at the BBG. Bell added that there is a significant gap in information access between those with access to cable (45%) and satellite (14%), who have a much broader level of access, compared to those with only terrestrial (21%) or no TV.

The data found that Pakistani adults relied less on new media, and mobiles are not yet widely used for Internet access. Although the majority of Pakistani adults (56%%) report having a mobile phone, the phones are commonly used primarily for basic SMS or calling functions.

“Mobile has a lot of room to grow, as 3G is just now taking off in Pakistan,” said Bell. Pakistani adults who did consume media on less popular platforms such as radio and Internet tended to do so on their mobile devices. Mobile is the main means of going online in Pakistan (72% of Internet users) and the main method of listening to the radio (62% of radio listeners).

Both the media survey and the Gallup World Poll show strong regional differences in media consumption and attitudes.

Presenters discussing Pakistan media use. L-R: William Bell, Director of Audience Insights, International Broadcasting Bureau; Rajesh Srinivasan, Regional Research Director - Asia and Middle East, Gallup; Bruce Sherman, Director, Office of Strategy and Development, BBG; Chris Stewart, Partner, Gallup.
Presenters discussing Pakistan media use. L-R: William Bell, Director of Audience Insights, International Broadcasting Bureau; Rajesh Srinivasan, Regional Research Director – Asia and Middle East, Gallup; Bruce Sherman, Director, Office of Strategy and Development, BBG; Chris Stewart, Partner, Gallup.
“Increasing confidence in the national government is the single most striking observation since we started measuring this on the World Poll, and there are regional variations that might be due to exposure to state media,” said Rajesh Srinivasan, regional research director for Asia and Middle East at Gallup. “For example KPK has the lowest confidence in National government and they seem to rely more on State media for news and information.”

The BBG broadcasts to Pakistan with a blend of radio, television, and new media via Voice of America’s Urdu Service, VOA’s Radio Deewa, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Radio Mashaal.

A research brief and presentation with further information about this data can be found here, and a video of the briefing will be added in the coming days. More information about the BBG’s media research series is available here.

Riaz Haq said...

Radio World: #Pakistan Broadcasting Corp. Joins DRM Consortium. Plans to digitize radio broadcast infrastructure …

Digital Radio Mondiale has announced that public broadcaster Pakistan Broadcasting Corp. is the latest member of the DRM Consortium.

PBC programs consist of music, features and plays meant to entertain listeners while also educating its overseas audiences about Pakistani culture, government and the world. The PBC broadcasts in 23-different state-recognized languages 24-hours a day.

“The Pakistan Broadcasting Corp. is interested in introducing the latest digital technologies for the benefit of the Pakistani listeners,” said Syed Imran, director general of PBC. “As such we are happy to join the DRM Consortium as we are embarking on the modernization and digitization of our infrastructures.”

DRM Chairman Ruxandra Obreja, welcomes PBC to the DRM Consortium and sees this “as a serious commitment of PBC to the latest radio technologies like the DRM standard and a chance for the DRM Consortium to strengthen its position in Asia and to learn more from an important market like Pakistan.”

- See more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Until 2002, Pakistan’s broadcast media was a narrow field; it had one radio station, Radio Pakistan, started in 1947 and one state-owned television channel, Pakistan Television, started in 1964; both were mouthpieces for officially slanted information, alongside privately held print media dominated by three major consortiums: the liberal Jang Group, owned by the media magnate Shakeel ur-Rahman (this group now owns the broadcast and web outlet GEO); the Nawai Waqt Group, which treads a right-wing line, and the English-language Dawn Group, the most moderate of the three (the newspaper Dawn was founded in 1941 in Delhi, India, by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of Pakistan’s independence movement, to promote the moderate ideals of his Muslim League).

Then, in 2002, Gen. Pervez Musharraf decided to open Pakistan to the global flow of information in order to reverse decades of isolation. He allowed private television channels and FM radio stations to obtain licenses, setting off a media boom. Their reporting during the conflicts that followed 9/11 and spilled over into Pakistan allowed these television channels to flourish, taking viewers away from state media in favor of more independent reporting.

Ironically, General Musharraf himself forced GEO off the air temporarily in 2007 when the channel criticized his suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. But today, out of office, the general once again flirts with the media as he tries to return to politics.

The media have grown to 40 news channels, 143 radio stations, and hundreds of national and regional newspapers. For that they are often called “vibrant.”

Another descriptor is “vulgar.” On prime-time television, news is sensationalized, with ratings the first consideration; alongside hysterical reporting are thrilling or tragic music and crude, insensitive graphics; virtually everything is “breaking news” in no hierarchy of importance. Meanwhile, large corporations like ARY and the Lakson Group have acquired media companies after discovering that controlling media can protect their corporate interests.

Advertisers get huge influence over what’s published or aired. Advertising breaks are frequent, and banners for commercial products run incessantly. Advertising also dominates front pages: one major newspaper group recently gave front-page ads prominence over headlines on all of its papers.

Meanwhile, the government still seeks to control the media; Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority wants an existing law amended to permit “de-linking” of television channels from their satellites if they broadcast “objectionable” or “unwanted” material.

While many in the media retain editorial integrity in the face of these pressures, Pakistani media houses have yet to come up with an industrywide code of conduct or self-regulatory body. Nor have they been able to stay unbiased. Often they blatantly take sides in political conflicts, even while describing themselves as protectors only of the public good.

So, what is the way forward? Ensuring the safety and security of Pakistani journalists is the best starting point; the industry’s foot soldiers need more training, as well as job tenure and pensions. Forming unions is another necessity, as well as creating a framework of regulation that offers protection against state and corporate pressure.

But what Pakistan’s media needs most is a unified sense of its own professional conscience, so that it can continue to thrive as it fulfills its ultimate duty to Pakistanis: to report the news free from bias and influence, while telling a good story that will catch citizens’ attention.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's social media celebrities: Taher Shah, AwaisLovely, Qandeel Baloch, #YouTube #Facebook … via @sheema_kh

In 2013, Taher Shah released his quirky and outlandish debut song ‘Eye to Eye’. The low budget video went viral in Pakistan, generating endless memes. It took the Pakistani singing sensation three years to grow wings and make a comeback with his “Angel” song.

The video opens in a picturesque meadow with a rainbow. Taher frequently changes outfits and wears tiaras over his signature long black hair, adorns flowing velvet gowns, studded brooches, hair wigs, coloured contact lenses, and masquerade masks. He walks around with what seems to be his angel family. There are some incomprehensible English lyrics and some off-tune singing.

But that isn't what Taher is about. He is creating viral art. Art that is reappropriated and takes a life of its own on the internet. His video was viewed 2 million times in two days, topped Twitter trends in Pakistan and across the border in India, and has inspired endless viral memes and videos.

In this video, one of Pakistan's top singers Ali Zafar takes on Taher Shah's Angel. The video has over 100K views on YouTube, and more than 90K on Facebook.

And then there's a heavy metal version, which has been widely shared on Facebook.

Pakistan's first YouTube star

Taher is not the only Pakistani to be operating in this space. In 2011, Pakistan found its very first YouTube star in AwaisLovely, a young man from one of Pakistan's smaller cities Sialkot. Within a short time, Awais’ amateur dancing videos and conversations about his city and romance mixed with epic music became a viral hit among the country’s internet population.

AwaisLovely generated lots of memes and probably would've taken his fandom to some heights, if YouTube wasn't banned in the country in 2012.

Pakistan's Kardashian?

And then there is Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani entertainer who has taken social media by storm for uploading videos on Facebook about her daily routine and her take on politics at home and in India, usually while sprawled on a bed in clothes that are considered risqué by Pakistani standards. Sometimes she just uploads videos of herself in a hot tub or hilarious edited videos of herself created using third-party apps. She also reposts mixes or memes of her videos and has embraced viral culture completely. Agence France-Presse has called her Pakistan's Kim Kardashian. Her Facebook page has close to half a million fans.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan eyes $150m after direct-to-home (#dthb ) #DISH broadcast system (#dbs ) #television license bidding

Pakistan is expected to attract direct investment of at least $150 million after the Nov 23 bidding for three direct-to-home (DTH) broadcast licences.

A top official of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) told journalists that 12 companies, including three foreign operators as part of local consortiums, had been shortlisted to bid for three DTH licences. The licences would be valid for 15 years.

Terming DTH a game-changer for the electronic media industry in Pakistan, the official said it would offer quality services and a wider range of choice to consumers and a lucrative revenue source to the economy’s managers. It would also end the monopoly of a few analogue cable operators.

It would not end the cable operators’ business, he said, but would compel them to invest in technology and their distribution systems.

Pakistan has close to 25 million electronic media subscribers and between three and five million consumers use Indian DTH illegally. Once the licensing process goes through, subscribers of Indian DTH would have to shift to the local network.

Foreign channels will get landing rights to come under the local regime through a regulatory process and launching of new local satellite channels will be allowed.

The official said that the current analogue distribution system offered a maximum of 80 channels while the DTH would increase the capacity to 250. Each local DTH licence holder is expected to have at least 500,000 subscribers.

A Chinese company is currently in the process of completing formalities to set up a factory for set-top boxes (STBs) for transmitting broadcasts to homes. The initial cost of an STB to consumer would be around Rs3,500 which could be recovered by DTH operators in instalments. Monthly subscription would be around Rs550.

“This will be the biggest investment in Pakistan’s electronic media history,” the official said. The conservative investment estimate of $150m was based on feasibility studies of shortlisted firms. It could go up to $250m after the three licence holders expand operations in the next two years. These estimates do not include bidding proceeds that would start with a base price of Rs200m for each licence.

The licence holders would employ 1,500 people directly and the move would open up indirect job opportunities for 15,000 people in the next two to three years as DTH penetration increases, he said.

Of the firms shortlisted, Startimes Communications Ltd would have 49 per cent shareholding from a Chinese operator, Parus Media and Broadcast Ltd will have 49 per cent stake from a Russian operator and Smart Sky Ltd (partially owned by PTCL’s foreign shareholders) would have a foreign shareholding. The official said that the law did not allow majority shareholdings to foreign firms, so 51 per cent stakes would have to be controlled by local partners.

Other shortlisted firms include Orient Electronics of Lahore, Mag Entertainment of Lahore, IQ Communication of Karachi and six firms, Skyflix, Sardar Builders, Nayatel, Mastro Media Distribution, Shahzad Sky Ltd and HB DTH, from Islamabad.

Riaz Haq said...

First ever #Pakistan #DTH Bidding kicks off in #Islamabad, crosses Rs 1bn mark. #DISH #Cable #TV #internet #digital …

After the Supreme Court of Pakistan decided in favour of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), the first ever bidding of the Pakistani DTH was held in the federal capital on Wednesday.

Absar Alam had held a press conference the previous day and termed DTH as a game-changer for Pakistan. The PEMRA chief had stated that this digital technology was the need of the hour since other countries in the region were making use of it except for Pakistan.
Absar had promised that PEMRA would take care of cable operators. He cited the example of Europe and the United States, where DTH was functional and so was cable TV.

"In developed countries like the United States and Germany, where the DTH systems had been launched over 20 years ago, penetration of the DTH service is 30 per cent while 70 percent viewers still depend on the cable system, which shows that both systems can coexist," he had said on Tuesday.

He also spoke out against those who were illegally transmitting Indian DTH service, stating that the mafia responsible for it should also go to the courts against illegal Indian DTH service transmission.

Riaz Haq said...

#China's ZTE to expand #digital #television service offering in #Pakistan

BEIJING — China's ZTE is expanding its partnership in Pakistan to extend digital television services into more regions of the country, including in remote mountainous areas, Zhang Zhenhui, executive vice president at the company, told CNBC.

The Shenzhen-based tech and telecom company will sign the agreement on Sunday at China's Belt and Road Forum, a two-day meeting on the country's major foreign policy initiative.

"This is a project with significant importance, as it provides telecommunication services to many Pakistani people, including ones that live in rural and remote areas," Zhang said. "This is a key strategic project by the two governments, and ZTE serves as the bond between the two nations."

China's ambitious "One Belt, One Road" policy is a plan that aims to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network. It's set to use roads, ports, railway tracks, pipelines, airports, electric grids and even fiber optic lines. If successful, it would allow China to increase its global influence and find a way to find further growth as the domestic economy slows.

For companies like ZTE, this means a major opportunity to continue expanding abroad, especially with the backing of the Chinese government.

"We believe the policy will greatly support the company's next phase of international expansion," Zhang said.

ZTE already operates in more than 160 countries, and nearly half of the firm's revenues come from its international business. Pakistan has long been an important market for ZTE — the company has worked with local partners to build and upgrade the country's telecoms' 2G, 3G and 4G networks, and opened a research and development center back in 2006.

Pakistan is also an important part of China's "One Belt, One Road" strategy: The world's second-largest economy has already launched a collection of infrastructure projects there worth $46 billion, named the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Zhang said ZTE is optimistic about its 2017 business prospects after posting a strong first quarter with a nearly 28 percent jump in net profit, and that the company will continue to invest heavily in developing 5G networks, with the aim to roll out by 2020.

"5G will be ZTE's champion product … we will be the leader," Zhang said.

The strong start to the year is a sign the company is rebounding after pleading guilty and paying in March around $1 billion in fines to the U.S. government to settle allegations that it violated U.S. laws on selling American technology to Iran. The penalty payment dented earnings — the company posted a 2.36 billion yuan net loss for 2016.

Although the U.S. hasn't officially signed on to China's initiative, a delegation is participating in the Beijing meeting. And U.S.-China trade relations continue to hang in the balance, though officials and business leaders on both sides have worked to maintain optimism about continuing a long relationship.

ZTE's Zhang echoed those sentiments: "I believe in many years from now, the China and U.S. economies will embrace even deeper ties and cooperation."

Riaz Haq said...

An overview of the TV advertising spend in Pakistan in FY 2015-16.

2015-16 Total Ad Spend Rs 76.2 billion

TV Rs 38 billion

Print Rs. 18 billion

OOH Rs. 8.9 billion

Brand Activation/POP Rs. 4 billion

Radio Rs. 2.8 billion

Digital Rs. 4.5 billion

TV ad revenue increased by Rs 4.408 billion (13%).

Print ad revenue increased by Rs 1.87 billion (12%).

OOH ad revenue increased by 0.52 billion (6%).

Brand Activation/POP revenue increased by Rs 1 billion (33%).

Radio ad revenue increased by Rs 0.46 billion (20%).

Digital ad revenue increased by nearly 1 billion (27%).

TV: no change.
Print decreased by 1%.
OOH decreased by 1%.
Brand Activation/POP increased by 1%.
Radio: no change.
Digital increased by 1%.

TV Channels Revenue (Rs billion)
Hum TV 3.84
ARY Digital 3.802
PTV Sports 3
Geo Entertainment 2.93
Geo News 2.6
Urdu1 2.5
PTV Home 2.5
Samaa 1.9
Dunya News 1.8
ARY News 1.8
Express News 1.8
Ten Sports 1.6
ATV 1.5
Geo Kahani 1.18
DawnNews 0.9
Others 4.348

Channels that lost their Top 10 positioning this year: Ten Sports and ATV which were #9 and #10 respectively.

Channels that have registered the highest revenue increases: Samaa (88%), Geo News (82%), Geo Entertainment (81%) and ARY News (76%).

The percentage shares of the top two channels (Hum and ARY Digital) remain the same as
FY 2014-15 (10%); others have registered increases ranging between 1 and 3%.

1) A 15% deduction has been applied to account for agency commission. To arrive at the gross figure, 17.5% commission will have to be applied to the given numbers.
2) Aurora data does not include 'home' ads.

Riaz Haq said...

Meet the Martha Stewart of #Pakistan: Domestic Diva Zubaida Apa knows how to run a family household

Zubaida Tariq has been answering questions for over two decades. Watch her beloved cooking show and she’ll tell you how to cook everything from biryani to liver, or a summertime dessert of kulfi. Call in, and she’ll tell you how to strengthen your hair (vegetables in your diet), how to cure diaper rash (corn flour), how to spur a child’s growth (patience, though maybe he has worms), and how to fix Granddad’s broken leg (take him to a doctor).

Zubaida Aapa—the Urdu honorific for elder sister—is a homemaker, turned TV star, turned domestic goddess, and the closest thing Pakistan has to Martha Stewart, but with Stewart’s fame dialed up to 11. Since the ’90s, when she made her television debut on a cooking show called Dalda Ka Dastarkhwan, loosely translated as “Dalda’s spread,” named for its cooking oil company sponsor, Tariq has taught generations of homemakers how to raise their children, clean their homes, and make parathas. She has authored at least six cookbooks, doled out countless home remedies (totkas in Urdu) for kitchen, home, and child, and left satire in the wake of her outsize celebrity.

The first time I saw Tariq on TV was in the mid-’90s; the first time I saw her in person was in 2002, when she came to judge a cooking competition at my college; and the first time I met her was this summer, when she said I could come watch a taping of her show. So on a warm Monday evening in August, I came to the studios of Masala TV where Tariq was on set, preparing to film an episode of her current show, Handi, named after a cooking vessel common in northern South Asia.

Bowls of chopped coriander and turmeric powder were lined up on the counter. Tariq looked calm in a lilac sari and gold blouse and matching glass bangles, an encouraging contrast to the rush hour traffic choking the streets of Karachi outside. Her thin lips were painted in dark lipstick, her hair scraped back into a bun. She looked skinny, almost frail. At 72, Tariq could be a grandmother. She could be your grandmother.

Tariq never wears an apron over her impeccably ironed saris, and she doesn’t test her recipes anymore. When you’ve been cooking for the better part of your adult life, she says, “You have enough confidence that whatever you cook will turn out fine.”

It was almost 5 p.m.—prime time for the cooking channel, when home cooks start planning out their dinners—and Tariq was about to go live. She checked the burners. The studio went silent. Tariq’s co-host, Abeel Khan, greeted her and they started talking about the day’s recipes: badaami dahi baray—lentil fritters in yogurt, topped off with almonds—and Mangalorean chicken curry from India’s southwestern coast.

About 10 minutes into filming, she looked at the pan, where the fritters were separating and turning into behemoths. She realized that her cook at home—who preps her ingredients—had put baking soda in the batter. “This girl came to see me today and that’s the day I’ve had: a disaster,” she lamented genially to her audience and her co-host.

Later in the show, she answered a call about cleaning marble with good-natured exasperation. One viewer called to ask for tips on breast-feeding. Women in much of the world might save that particular topic for home, but Pakistani women can ask Zubaida Aapa anything. She knows things. She’s your 3 a.m. call.

Riaz Haq said...

Ad revenue in Pakistan,Rs%200.07%20billion%20(5%25).

Total Ad Revenue Rs. 88.73 billion in 2021-22

Total ad spend (revenue) has increased by Rs 13.09 (17%); in FY 2020-21, it increased by 17.04 (29%).


In FY 2020-21, the combined revenues of Facebook, Google and YouTube accounted for 85% of the total ad spend on digital; this year, they account for 87%.


TV ad revenue increased by Rs 4.64 billion (14%).
Digital ad revenue increased by Rs 3.15 billion (19%).
Print ad revenue increased by Rs 0.21 billion (2%).
OOH ad revenue increased by Rs 3.7 billion (44%).
Brand Activation/POP ad revenue increased by Rs 1.26 billion (50%).
Radio ad revenue increased by Rs 0.07 billion (5%).
Cinema ad revenue increased by Rs 0.06 billion (60%).

TV percentage share decreased by 1.4.
Digital percentage share increased by 0.27.
Print percentage share decreased by 2.19.
OOH percentage share increased by 2.51.
Brand Activation/POP percentage share increased by 0.93.
Radio percentage share decreased by 0.17.
Cinema percentage share increased by 0.05.


TV percentage share decreased by 1.4.
Digital percentage share increased by 0.27.
Print percentage share decreased by 2.19.
OOH percentage share increased by 2.51.
Brand Activation/POP percentage share increased by 0.93.
Radio percentage share decreased by 0.17.
Cinema percentage share increased by 0.05.


Compared to FY 2020-21, the rankings of the Top Three newspapers remain the same.
Most newspapers have registered slight increases in their revenues.


Compared to FY 2020-21, the Top Five channels have retained their positions.
In FY 2020-21, Radio Awaz Network was #7; this year it is #9.
In FY 2020-21, FM 105 was #9; this year it is #7.


Compared to FY 2020-21, the rankings of the Top Seven channels remain unchanged.
In FY 2020-21, PTV Home was #8 and Samaa was #9. This year, their positions are inverted.
In FY 2020-21, PTV Sports was #14. This year, it is #10.


In FY 2020-21, the combined revenues of Facebook, Google and YouTube accounted for 85% of the total ad spend on digital; this year, they account for 87%.


Compared to FY 2020-21, the rankings of Lahore (#1), Karachi (#2) and Hyderabad (#8) remain the same.
In FY 2020-21, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Islamabad and Multan were #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7, respectively. This year, they are #4, #5, #7, #3 and #6.


Product categories that were introduced this year are Real Estate (#1) and Retail/Online (#5).
In FY 2020-21, Beverages, FMCGs and Telecoms were #1, #2 and #3, respectively. This year they are #2, #3 and #4.
In FY 2020-21, Fashion and Electronic Appliances were #4 and #5 respectively. This year, they are #6 and #7.


Compared to FY 2020-21, the rankings of all the elements remain the same.