DawnNews changes to Urdu

Published: May 15, 2010
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DawnNews ends its English news and programming, May 15, 2010.

DawnNews ends its English news and programming, May 15, 2010.

KARACHI: DawnNews, which once prided itself on being the country’s first English-language news channel, has decided to turn into a full-fledged Urdu language channel.

The change is expected to occur today. DawnNews started an Urdu transmission from 8:00 to 11:00 pm a few months ago and later increased this to 12 hours. Now, the change appears complete as the channel will have programming solely in Urdu. The most cited reason for this transition is the financial difficulty of running an Englishlanguage channel in a market dominated by Urdu language news and entertainment channels.

Advertising revenue is the sole source of revenue for Pakistani television channels and the amount of advertising revenue a channel is able to make is almost entirely dependent on ‘ratings points.’ Ratings points are obtained by a ‘people meter’ audience measurement system, a system that is widely employed throughout the world to measure how many people are watching a particular programme at a particular time.

And, given the small viewership that understands and watches English-language television in Pakistan, niche channels such as DawnNews and Express 24/7 (a sister company of The Express Tribune) have proven a tough sell to advertisers. Nadeem Jamal, currently an Executive Producer with Express 24/7 but formerly in the same position at DawnNews, remarks that “It (DawnNews) was a wonderful project, pulled off by a very energetic team; it gave tough competition to widely popular Urdu language news channels. It’s sad to know it’s going Urdu due to financial constraints, let’s hope it does well and is able to retain its identity in this cut throat competition among news channels.”

Some DawnNews staffers reached by The Express Tribune claim that going Urdu has proved to be much more lucrative for the organisation as it has resulted in a considerable increase in advertising and viewership. However, they add that becoming a solely Urdu channel poses its own set of challenges as now the channel will have to compete with entrenched and well-financed competitors such as Geo News, Aaj, Dunya and Express News.

This will be the second attempt by the Dawn Media Group to cater to the vernacular, mass market. The first time was in the 1970s when the company acquired but then later shut down Hurriyat, an Urdu morning daily. When contacted, Shakeel Masood, the CEO of DawnNews said that it is premature to give any comments at this point in time as the full Urdu transmission hasn’t been launched just yet. Abbas Nasir, the Editor of DawnNews, and Mubashir Zaidi, Director News of the channel, refused to comment.

DawnNews has hired Wusatullah Khan, a prominent BBC Urdu journalist who, along with DawnNews’ senior anchor Osama Bin Javed, will be expected to lead the channel’s venture to compete in the Urdu news space.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 15th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Syed A. Mateen
    May 15, 2010 - 7:36AM

    Urdu is the only language which is widely understood across the board.

    The success of any TV channel starts from Urdu language and if Dawn News TV channel is changing from English to Urdu language, I think that the management is taking the step in the right direction.

    The viewers would like to watch quality programmes from Dawn News and I hope that management of Dawn News will give a serious consideration not to air the stereo type in conclusive political talk shows which creates unrest in the masses.

    However, any thing which has a meaningful base will be accepted by Dawn News viewers.

    Serious viewers do not watch private TV channels just for the sake of viewing programmes that are aired from a TV channel. They want to watch quality programmes and I am sure that Dawn News is quite capable in doing that. Recommend

  • Murad Ali
    May 15, 2010 - 8:19AM

    It now poses serious questions to Express 24/7….can it continue with its english transmissions since the group already own urdu channel. will it have to shut down the 24/7….?Recommend

  • anwaarahmad
    May 15, 2010 - 8:21AM

    Our simple hearted P.M. should try to understand this delicate point,a rational for this change over.During his whole tenure,he only touched once the hearts of his “admirers”,when he fluently used an idiom of his mother tongue”haali ghorri chaan talay badho”.Recommend

  • Aamir Ali
    May 15, 2010 - 8:30AM

    At least Dawn News built a brand name by going English-only. Hope they keep English-language shows.Recommend

  • Irfan Afghan
    May 15, 2010 - 11:14AM

    Good news for Express English? Recommend

  • Fawwad Shafi
    May 15, 2010 - 12:11PM

    Its a stupid idea. Weird that DawnNews runs an English newspaper but an Urdu TV channel. Dawn has always been the best newspaper from Pakistan. Sadly, the couldnt run the best English news channel.Recommend

  • TL
    May 15, 2010 - 1:07PM

    This is an advantage for Express 24/7 because they are now the ONLY english news channels. Whether Express 24/7 will survive or not? They will, without any doubt. They are backed by an urdu news channel and urdu newspaper and not to forget the LAKSON Group. 24/7 is a luxury and not a need for the Express Group.Recommend

  • M. Ismail Arif
    May 15, 2010 - 2:56PM

    Its bad news for me…at least DAWN NEWS was the only of its kind, its was very unfortunate that first one of its best anchor/producer “Saima Mohsin” left due to some of her own personal reason and i had to miss “news eye” and now that its totally becoming URDU. I use to tell my friends & associates abroad that our DAWN NEWS-Pakistan can be compared with BBC and others as it reflected that from producers/newscasters and viewers there is a large majority who loves to see such channels coming up and grooming our youngsters…Recommend

  • Rommel
    May 15, 2010 - 3:06PM

    its sad to know. Dawn News was undoubtedly the best english Channel, with loads of mature Anchors who always arranged holding programs without any Bias towards one specific political interest group. When almost all channels broadcasted programs lamnated with unnecessary thrill and Hype, dawn news kept their credibility despite financial constraints. I wish they behave in same manner while running a urdu channel and provide quality transmission to urdu viewers.Recommend

  • Saleem Shaikh
    May 17, 2010 - 1:45PM

    This is the worst example of vision failure.Recommend

  • Saleem Shaikh
    May 17, 2010 - 1:52PM

    This is a worst example of vision failure.

    Those, who think that DawnNews has turned Urdu-language TV channel just to serve the urdu language, are living in a fool’s paradise. DawnNews management have taken this move just to save tottering organisation and start again building up their revenue by stop their falling profits.

    I believe their is a great market in Pakistan for only an English news tv channel, which has clear vision and real journalists.

    Saleem Shaikh
    Journalist
    KarahciRecommend

  • K.W.Shariff
    May 17, 2010 - 2:50PM

    Dawn always catered to a niche market, i mean people who sit at home all day and read every line of newspaper. The news channel carried the same trend, ignored the popular events, even during critical events Dawn presenters were showing exotic european diet or busy discussing some non issues. Sometime the whole channel reminded me of an empty house of a retired and reclusive old englishman.

    i wonder why, Dawn has failed to adapt to times and is now realising it painfully. Recommend

  • Adeel
    May 17, 2010 - 3:42PM

    Atleast they will survive now….hopefully!Recommend

  • surprised
    May 17, 2010 - 4:06PM

    I liked Dawn News. It had some excellent people working for it. Perhaps 24/7 could consider hiring at least Saima Mohsin for a program like Newseye? Recommend

  • Atif
    May 18, 2010 - 2:26PM

    DawnNews will develop its new identity with quality programming in Urdu.Recommend

  • Shakeel
    May 18, 2010 - 3:12PM

    I have mixed feelings about this news. Firstly, DAWN is a quality English newspaper and attracts non Pakistanis to come and read about our nation. So it is sad that it will no longer be available in English. However, the majority of Pakistanis do not read/understand English so Urdu makes sense. If DAWN can keep up the quality in Urdu as well, it will go a long way in educating people. Best of luck. Recommend

  • Asim Kaleem
    May 18, 2010 - 8:44PM

    Its very sad ….. this channel was our pride that along our national language we do have this international language channel catering to the needs of the educated class of the country. I suggest Dawnnews should look for international partners as its like in India which can take care of their financial woes. Recommend

  • May 24, 2010 - 8:00AM

    Well its a sad thing, I always thought of Dawn news as a potential International channel for PAkistan,
    Express 24/7 will fall too, as it is designed for desis only, as opposed to DAWn which had an international touch.
    Govt should support Dawn and Express both, with the condition of Marketing Pakistan at international level as Indian Media is doing, and excluding the masala desi items out.that might bear fruit !Recommend

  • Tariq RAheem
    Jun 30, 2010 - 4:37PM

    They should keep some of their english talk shows and an hour bullitin in english. Tariq RaheemRecommend

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