Media madness: Sometimes the show must not go on

Over the past month TV audiences have seen too much of what they shouldn't have. Can someone please press pause?

Hassan Choudary February 24, 2011

Veena Malik’s interviews on the Express News show ‘Frontline with Kamran Shahid’ remained a source of much debate last month – a classic case of sensationalisation.

The two episodes, however, are not the only examples of media’s – broadcast media in particular – irresponsible behaviour.

Here are some examples:

  • The suicide of the wife of Raymond Davis’ victim was surely disturbing, but there is no justification as to why her footage was shown on television while she battled for her life.

  • A while back, Geo News reporter Wali Khan Babar was killed in Karachi and within an hour of his death, Geo News projected him as a martyr. Babar’s death was indeed a sad incident, but what really was unfortunate was the killing of 20 other people in Karachi the same day. None received the same amount of airtime or reverence by Geo News.

  • And who can forget the exchange of shocking statements between PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali, and MQM leaders Waseem Akhtar and Haider Abbas Rizvi. ARY News showed the entire dialogue, uncut, uncensored! Unwilling to compromise on ratings, almost every TV channel got hold of representatives of both the parties within hours of the incident, pitched them against each other and helped raise already soaring temperatures.

  • Interestingly, Veena Malik’s interview on Frontline was aired at the exact time 4,800 sacked employees of KESC were being reinstated. Apparently it was so important that the TV channel did not take a single break to go to Raja Pervaiz’ press conference, during which he made the announcement.

  • A girl who gathered the courage to file a case against her rapists was forced to go into hiding after the entire media made a mockery of her misery.

  • High resolution close-up footage of a woman whose head and eyebrows were shaved by her husband was run on television several times.

  • Similarly, images and footages of a minor girl, who was married to a 21-year-old, were also flashed on TV screens throughout.

  • Another video vividly showed a girl who was beaten by her employer.

  • And then, there was the footage of Salmaan Taseer’s body being taken in a police mobile.

These examples are enough to show that media, time and again, misuses its freedom of disseminating information.

As per my knowledge, the last thing that grabbed Pemra’s attention was the interviews of Taseer’s assassin, at the broadcast of which the authority fined two TV channels. Anything less than an interview of a person who kills the governor, does not seem worthy enough to be censored.

In a day and age where media is society’s most powerful watchdog, who or what will stop the show from going on?

Hassan Choudary
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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