Sunday, December 9, 2018

Pakistan Media Crisis: Facts and Myths

Why are Pakistan media groups laying off employees and shutting down TV channels? Is it caused by Pakistan government cutbacks in advertising? Is it part of the PTI government's alleged efforts to censor media? Or part of the long overdue industry shake-out after almost two decades long un-interrupted media business expansion?

Pakistan Ad Spending. Source: Aurora/Dawn

How much was the Nawaz Sharif led PMLN government spending on advertising? Did Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi increase media advertising budgets to buy favorable coverage at taxpayers' expense?

Are Pakistan government and national security establishment unique in wanting to manage media coverage? Do Western government manage media as well? If so, how? How do their media management techniques differ?

Global Advertising Growth 2016. Source: Magna

What is the future of media in Pakistan as the Internet penetration grows dramatically with 1-2 million more people coming online each month? Will greater spending on digital ads change journalism in Pakistan? Will more journalists take to social media and other online platforms as business?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Sabahat Ashraf and Riaz Haq.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

FMCG Growth in Pakistan

Is Media Free?

Pakistan Retail Sales Growth

Advertising Revenue in Pakistan

Pakistan FMCG Market

The Other 99% of Pakistan Story

PSL Cricket League Revenue

E-Commerce in Pakistan

Fintech Revolution in Pakistan

Mobile Broadband Speed in Pakistan


nayyer ali said...

Given the size of the economy and population, and the fact that many of the channels do not provide much in the way of original programming, there was bound to be consolidation at some point. This is a normal process. For most of the last century the US got by with three TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), with Fox and CNN coming on in the 1980's.

Anonymous said...

According to sources, team IK has approached Lars Anthonisen of Google to spearhead media strategy for Naya Pakistan. Deliberations are on if he or Google will get involved in official capacity. Efforts are on to bring a small Google incubator team to Karachi. If this happens it would be a great leap forward.

Riaz Haq said...

Artificial intelligence will soon gain a foothold in newsrooms. In Pakistan, the first AI reporter is crunching numbers, tracking the stock market, and piquing the interest of media houses.

Riaz Haq said...

Artificial intelligence will soon gain a foothold in newsrooms. In Pakistan, the first AI reporter is crunching numbers, tracking the stock market, and piquing the interest of media houses.

Anees Shaikh of Dante

A Pakistani tech company has developed an artificially intelligent journalist, the first of its kind, which can produce a complete news item in just a few seconds.
Dante is currently producing 350-word closing reports for the Pakistan Stock Exchange, as well as six-month charts and graphs showing market trends.
“This news-writing bot produces 100 percent original content in just two to three seconds after accessing relevant data from newswires, local and international media outlets,” Anis Shiekh, founder of baseH — the company that created Dante — told Arab News.
“It’s not going to replace reporters and editors. Rather, it will help newsroom staff carry out their work smoothly and quickly.”
Dante can automatically develop and maintain its own archive, and can provide context and background to articles.
“With Dante’s help, media outlets can produce endless original content as it neither sleeps nor tires,” Shiekh said, adding that it can easily produce content in different formats such as online, radio, print and television.
Content generated by Dante was shared with senior Pakistani journalists and editors for feedback.

Riaz Haq said...

Unlimited Greed Brings
Pakistan Media Under
Overdue Scrutiny, Much
Needed Axe
Shaheen Sehbai

THE LAST DECADE or so has seen
the Pakistan media, especially the TV
guys, grab immense power and
unmatched notoriety while making tons
of money, mostly undeserved.
All this was done, in most cases, while
blatantly flouting basic media ethics.
Some media houses had actually
started believing and publicly claiming
they were kingmakers and could make
or overthrow any government.
Not so anymore. The 2018 general
election saw this media role at its best,
or probably the worst.
Ruling politicians and greedy business
tycoons who fraudulently acquired
massive government lands, contracts,
favours and kickbacks, dumped billions on the media believing that it will
shield them from the law and from all sorts of accountability, if ever it
They were wrong. The day of reckoning will come so soon, no one had

The people of Pakistan threw up a new leadership in 2018 and broke the
iron-fist hold of political/business mobsters who were holding the country
hostage for years.
Most importantly national institutions finally realized the danger to the
country and stood up firmly to play their role.
The army and the judiciary joined hands with desperate citizens to
challenge the deeply rotten status quo for the first time and rightly so.
As a result a new set up came into power and now details of how the
politicians, tycoons and the media gurus gobbled up billions are emerging.
Since Imran Khan’s PTI was not a partner in this mammoth national
crime, it has no hesitation in releasing these details. Mindboggling figures
are available.
Only the government media advertising was upwards of Rs50 billion. Big
business houses dished out many more to buy the screens and selfproclaimed important people sitting behind these small screens.
The media was up for a grand loot sale.

Since the story thus emerging is about its own dirty linen, the media would
never have told it. Thanks to the social media the shackles have been
broken and information is now flowing freely.
Starting with the electronic media, as it has grown out of proportion and
way too big for its shoes, one official list recently came out showing the
rates at which 36 news TV channels were receiving ads from the
While the full list, issued by the Information Secretary, is available on the
social media, a quick look shows Geo News was getting the highest rate of
Rs290,500 per minute, Dunya TV was receiving Rs270,000, the seven
channels getting Rs245,000 each were Abb Tak, ARY, Express, Roze
News, Samaa, 92-News and Hum News. News One got Rs240,000.
Others rated over Rs200K included: 7-News (227.5K), Lahore News,
Sindh TV, Neo News, KTN News, Khyber News, K-21, Dawn News, Din
News, City-42, Capital TV, Apna TV (210K each).
Waseb TV had a rate of 190K, Business Plus (182K), Aaj News,
Channel-24, Channel-5, Royal News, VSH (175K each), Such TV (147K),
K-2 (140K), Star Asia (130K), GNN (122K), and the lowest 105K going to
Punjab TV and Mashriq TV. Public TV was not yet rated.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan #digital #media a threat to broadcast industry. Digital media will soon be replacing broadcast media in #Pakistan. Pak digital media credited for taking up issues that are not covered by #broadcast or #print media which adhere to different rules.

Last year, one of Pakistan’s most watched television news channels, Waqt News, shut down, citing financial reasons. Tribune 24/7, an English-language news channel owned by Express Media Group, one of Pakistan’s largest media conglomerates, fired more than 100 employees and shut down in a similar fashion. The fact that two news channels owned by two of Pakistan’s most well-established media groups shut down abruptly was a warning sign that more channels might shut down in the future and that digital media are set to replace Pakistan’s broadcast-media landscape.

However, what really frustrated Pakistan’s broadcast industry was when emerging digital-media outlets got the opportunity for an exclusive press conference with Finance Minister Asad Umer. This did not sit well with broadcast journalists, and they criticized the press conference and referred to digital-media journalists as “social-media activists” and “Asad Umer’s social-media team” among other things.

But their frustration was not actually regarding being unable to score an important press conference, but the fact that digital media are the future and will soon be replacing broadcast media in Pakistan. The broadcast media are engaging in an “us vs them” debate as described by the website Bolo Jawan, which commented that they are being threatened by the rising trend in digital media and, because of the financial crunch in the country, when it comes to the broadcast-media landscape, things do not look promising.

Pakistan’s digital media are credited for taking up issues that would not be otherwise covered by broadcast or print media as they adhere to different rules. This does not necessarily mean that the digital media are entirely free from restrictions, as attacks on journalists and those associated with the media are common and digital media do not get any special privileges either. Despite that, Pakistan’s digital media have touched upon topics that have often been considered taboo, such as the debate regarding the blasphemy law, normalizing relations with Israel and LGBTQIA rights. This has not saved digital media from any criticism, since Pakistan is a highly conservative country religiously and culturally, but debates regarding such topics are something the digital media need to be credited for.

There were about 44.6 million Internet users in Pakistan in 2017, with an Internet penetration rate of 21.8%. Those numbers are expected to rise in coming years. It might look like a dark future for the state of the broadcast industry, but in order to keep up with the rising trend of digital media, broadcasters must quickly immerse themselves in the country’s digital-media landscape, as print did when broadcast media were a new phenomenon. The broadcast industry does possess the resources to do so, but if it fails to take steps, people serving in that industry will suffer, and no amount of criticism of digital media will be able to save them.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan electronic media regulator auctions 70 licenses for #satellite TV: 8 new channels in #news category, 27 in #entertainment, 12 channels of #regional languages, 12 in #education, 5 in #sports, four in #health and 2 in the #agriculture category.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Wednesday initiated an auction at its headquarters in Islamabad for the issuance of 70 more licences for satellite TV broadcast stations.

The auction will continue until tomorrow during which licences will be auctioned in seven categories — news, current affairs, education, sports, health, entertainment and agriculture.

Representatives from 187 companies have been participating in the auction.

According to the details, licences for eight new channels will be offered in news category, 27 in entertainment, 12 channels of regional languages, 12 in education, five in sports, four in health and two in the agriculture category.

As many as 21 companies participated in the open-bid round for auction of eight licences for news and current affairs. Out of the 35 companies pre-qualified for the auction, 14 didn't take part. Al Kamal Media Private Company placed the highest bid in the sector at Rs283.5 million.

Pemra Chairman Saleem Baig inaugurated the auction. In his speech, he said that 70 licences will be issued today. He hoped that each TV channel would provide livelihood to a large number of people.

He said that the authority works in consultation with all stakeholders. Currently 88 local TV channels and 227 radio channels are being operated in the country. He said that eight Internet Protocol TV licences have been issued, besides one DTH which is expected to be operational soon.

The Pemra chairman expressed his hope that today's auction would be held in a transparent manner.

Out of the total 70, 47 licences in three categories — news and current affairs, entertainment and regional satellite TVs — will be auctioned today.

The base price for news and current affairs TV licence has been fixed at Rs63.5m, entertainment TV licence at Rs48.5m, and regional at Rs10m. The successful bidder will have to submit 15 per cent of the bidding price today.

Pakistan Broadcasters Association's objection
A day earlier, the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) had criticised Pemra's decision to conduct an auction without taking up a petition filed by PBA against the proposal.

The association has now appealed to the prime minister to intervene and stop the process. According to a press release, the PBA had filed the petition in compliance with an order of the Sindh High Court.

“The present cable network in Pakistan is based on the analogue system, which has a capacity to carry a maximum of 80 channels at a given time. But since Pemra has already issued 121 licences for satellite TV broadcast stations, at least 40 channels cannot be aired," it read.

“Therefore, issuance of more licences will put a large number of channels off the air, resulting in irrecoverable losses to the media industry at a time when it is already suffering due to the economic slowdown,” the press release said.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Modi government uses #ad spending to ‘reward or punish’ #media. “Rewarding or punishing media outlets through the allocation or non-allocation of #advertising by the government is common practice" to influence #editorial policies. #FreeSpeech

The Indian government’s decision to stop buying adverts in three major newspaper groups has drawn a spotlight on a system that critics say is used by the state to control media coverage.

Last week it was reported that prime minister Narendra Modi’s administration had frozen all advertising spending with the publishers of the Times of India, The Hindu and The Telegraph, three of the country’s highest circulation English-language outlets.

The decision appears to have come after all three papers published articles or a series of articles that irritated the central government.

The government has strongly denied using advertising expenditure to influence editorial content, saying the existence of critical stories in Indian media is evidence enough that this does not happen.

But speaking to The Independent, Reporters Without Borders’ Asia-Pacific bureau head, Daniel Bastard, said: “Rewarding or punishing media outlets through the allocation or non-allocation of advertising by the government is common practice, and an effective way to [make them] toe their editorial line.”

He added that it was this political leverage over the media that has seen India under Modi constantly drop places in the organisation’s World Press Freedom Index.

India ranked 80th of 139 countries surveyed when the index began in 2002. This year it ranked 140th, behind the likes of Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Myanmar and South Sudan.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a senior MP with the opposition Congress party, called the move “undemocratic and megalomaniac”, telling parliament it appeared to be “a message to media from this government to toe its line”.

The scale of government advertising in Indian newspapers would be unthinkable in many developed nations.

Reuters, which first reported on the freeze, estimated government spending accounted for 15 per cent of all advertising revenues for the Times of India newspaper group and for the ABP Group, which publishes The Telegraph.

Some of this comes in the form of government tenders for contracts, but a lot of it is to publicise and extol the virtues of government schemes, often accompanied by an image of Modi himself.

The administration went on an advertising blitz in the 10 days before campaigning rules kicked in for the May general election, placing more than 160 adverts in just three leading papers, of which 93 were full-page.

“Most featured a picture of Modi and highlighted government initiatives,” the Reuters news agency reported at the time, but they also highlighted party-political campaign issues, including that Modi was “putting farmers first” and “national security is top priority”.

In a nation where all political parties invest in newspaper advertising, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has become “one of, if not the largest advertiser in the country” in its own right, according to Bastard.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #media media ownership concentrated in a few hands, aided by lax legal restrictions on cross-media ownership. Top 4 news #television channels in Pakistan (Geo News 24%, ARY News 12%, PTV News 11% and Samaa TV 7%) at the end of 2018 was 68.3%.

Summary of key findings in terms of audience shares:

Television: top 4 TV channels command over two-thirds of all TV news channel audiences.
Radio: top 4 radio stations command over half of the news radio audiences.
Newspapers: top 4 newspapers command over four-fifths of the newspaper audiences.
News websites: top 4 native online news websites command over half of all online media audiences.

top 4 news radio stations in Pakistan (FM106 Gujranwala & Sadiqabad 9.3%, FM100 Lahore 6.2%, FM103 Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan 6% and FM107 Karachi 5.6%) at the end of 2018 was 56.2% (total top 10 radio audience share percentage of 48.2% used as the 100% benchmark). This means 4 of Pakistan’s 209 FM stations with highest audience share have an accumulative audience share of over half of all news radio listenership audience in Pakistan.

The same analysis shows that the audience share for top 4 newspapers in Pakistan (Jang 27%, Express 18%, Nawa-i-Waqt 14% and Khabrain 11%) at the end of 2018 was 80.4% (total top 10 newspaper audience share percentage of 85% used as the 100% benchmark). This means 4 of Pakistan’s 847 newspapers accredited with the Audit Bureau of Circulation with highest audience share have an accumulative audience share of four-fifths of all newspaper readership audience in Pakistan.

The same analysis shows that the audience share for top 4 news websites in Pakistan ( 4.96%, 4.22, and 2.72%) at the end of 2018 was 56.9% (total top 10 newspaper audience share percentage of 26.4% used as the 100% benchmark). This means 4 of Pakistan’s native news websites with highest audience share have an accumulative audience share of over a quarter of all news website audience in Pakistan.
Key finding

Media regulations in Pakistan undermine fair competition through unfettered cross-media ownership

Riaz Haq said...

Lack of diverse media ownership leads to censorship in Pakistan says new report
Study ties lack of pluralism to censorship and falling standards

Aided by lax legal restrictions, Pakistan is a “high-risk country” in terms of media pluralism as more than half of mass media ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few — a model which has resulted in closure of businesses, a fall in journalism standards and rise in censorship, says a new research study.

These findings, coupled with the ruling party's increasingly hostile attitude towards journalists that are critical of government institutions, have led to the deterioration of the country's once-vibrant media environment and paved the way for continued threats to press freedom.

The research study by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Freedom Network looked at a number of factors when assessing risks to Pakistan's media pluralism, including media audience concentration, cross-media ownership concentration, regulatory safeguards, political control over media outlets and net neutrality.

Riaz Haq
#Pakistan #media media ownership concentrated in a few hands, aided by lax legal restrictions on cross-media ownership. Top 4 news #television channels in Pakistan (Geo News 24%, ARY News 12%, PTV News 11% and Samaa TV 7%) at the end of 2018 was 68.3%. …

Who owns the media in Pakistan| Media Ownership Monitor
Most of the ownership of top 40 – by audience share – news television channels, radio stations, newspapers and news websites in Pakistan are concentrated in only a few hands...
9:36 AM - Jul 19, 2019
Twitter Ads info and privacy
See Riaz Haq's other Tweets
The report found that the top four television channels, radio stations, newspapers and news websites had over 50 percent of the country’s entire audience share.

In addition, unbridled “cross-media ownership concentration“, which measures concentration across media sectors, has allowed more than 68 percent of market control to stay in the hands of eight media organizations. These organizations (Jang, Express, Dunya, Nawa-i-Waqat, Samaa, Dawn, Dunya, ARY) — and the government — have a significant presence in more than one media sector.

According to the report, the current legal framework does not prevent cross-media ownership and the country's regulatory bodies are accused of failing to ensure a “level playing field” and “fair competition” in the market.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which is responsible for regulating radio, television, and distribution services of electronic media in the country, is often accused of being more of a media content regulator than a media industry regulator. According to the report:

…instead of regulating the industry, the regulators have traditionally concentrated on content monitoring and censoring media on the behest of state institutions and governments”.

In addition, PEMRA only has regulatory control over private-sector media and its ordinance excludes existing and future operations of any government-controlled media. This infrastructure has helped to create an environment where the government has the power to exercise control over the media without many checks.

According to the report, the state influences the functioning of the media market by “discrimination” in the distribution of state advertisements. The state has long remained one of the most important sources of funding for the country’s private broadcast and print media. It generally distributes advertisement on the basis of audience share; however, violations have often been reported with ad volumes being reduced for certain media houses “as a tool of punishment”.

Riaz Haq said...

Can Pakistan's corrupt media be checked? - Committee to Protect Journalists

by Mazhar Abbas

This corruption within the media is spreading like a cancer, and there seems to be no antidote. If it is not checked, it could prove fatal for the media industry. We must take steps to address this problem ourselves. If not, Pakistan’s journalists could lose the credibility they have earned from years of struggle.

Riaz Haq said...

Not 'Lifafa', Pakistani media has a new name: 'Basket Journalists'. Thanks to a leaked audio

New Delhi: A new leaked audio between Pakistan Muslim League (N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and party leader Pervaiz Rashid is fuelling the Pakistani public’s anger towards the media.

While the politicians can be heard purportedly scheming to control independent media, the audio claims that certain journalists will receive ‘baskets’ from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The ‘aam aadmi’ of Pakistan now have a new name for those who are betraying public trust: ‘Basket Journalists.’

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.