For the children who were born in the mid-1980s, even catching a mere glimpse of whatever was on television was an enthralling experience. PTV and STN were the only two channels around and captured viewership across the country. Everyone still remembers how a programme like “Ainak wala jinn” entranced children when it was aired. The ideal time to watch television was between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm and no programme was aired after midnight. Those were the days when the media used to portray an ideal scenario of whatever was going on in the country. Children were more involved in outdoor sports and no one squandered endless hours just clicking on their remotes. With the passage of time, Bollywood was able to create a strong foothold in the country. The public at large started humming and dancing to Indian songs and were completely besotted by Indian actors. This gradual shift towards Bollywood outdated Pakistani artists.
The various steps that the Indian government has taken to promote India’s film industry have paid great dividends. The Indian film industry has helped in portraying a unique image of the country in the minds of international viewers. Most Indian films highlight the unity, integrity and honesty of Indians. The constant positive portrayals of India help in justifying many of the actions of its citizens and government.
The media revolution in Pakistan started towards the end of the 20th century. Emergence of independent news channels became the only hope for providing a mechanism of checks and balances for the system of governance that was in place, which in turn became a threat for those enjoying power in the country. Media became the voice of the people and the pioneering television channels gained the trust of the people. For the generation born in the 1980s, Pakistani news channels became a source of entertainment. This shift in viewer preference also changed the programmes’ content. More emphasis was laid on all sorts of masala news and gossip, which became essential tools in capturing viewership. The line between maintaining the transparency of news and providing entertainment got blurred.
Media is the voice of our motherland. It can provide a transparent picture of the country, enhance optimism among the people by focusing on the strengths of the nation and also by focusing on the talented people that we possess. There is a need to focus on the talented actors we have, on the crimes that do get solved — instead of only those which remain unsolved — on the credibility, kindness and humanity of our people.
The Pakistani media has the job of portraying the country in a responsible manner, both within Pakistan, as well as at an international level. It is a dynamic industry where trends can change within days. Along with emphasising issues like corruption and various cases of injustice, there is a need for it to bring more balance to the way it portrays the country, by focusing on the marvellous work done by the youth of Pakistan. Excess of anything is bad and balancing is an art which is achieved through proper planning. This will not only benefit the country but the media as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2012.