Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reply to Our Wonderful Hosts

On pakteahouse, Amaar Ahmed is critical of Pakistani TV, among other things, for not letting Ahmedis present their point of view on the air.

Meanwhile there is a report on the state of the Pakistani media from July 2009, from International Media Support : titled "Between radicalisation and democratisation in an unfolding conflict: Media in Pakistan" (PDF file).

I was searching for the ownership patterns of Pakistani media - since the English press has a lot of liberal-sounding articles, and the owners of the English media also probably own the Urdu and regional language media, is there a consistent editorial policy?  I don't have an answer, but here is some of what the IMS report has: 
There are three major players on the print media market and in the media market in general.

The Jang Group of Newspapers is Pakistan’s largest media group and publishes the Urdu language Daily Jang, The News International, Mag Weekly, and Awam. The group tends has at a moderate conservative perspective.

The Dawn Group of newspapers is Pakistan’s second largest media group and produces an array of publications with that include the Star, Herald and the newspaper Dawn, which is its flagship. Dawn is considered a liberal, secular paper with moderate views. The Star is Pakistan’s most popular evening newspaper, and the Herald, is a current affairs monthly.

Nawa-i-Waqt is an Urdu language daily newspaper and has one of the largest readerships in the country. It belongs to the Nawa-Waqt group, which also publishes the English newspaper, The Nation. Like The Nation, the Nawa-i-Waqt is a right wing, conservative paper. According to Javid Siddiq, resident editor, the paper stands for democracy and for an Islamic welfare state.
Regarding TV:

In total Pakistan has 49 TV channels of which 15 are news channels, 32 primarily entertainment and two religious. The three media conglomerates are also have their own TV channels, but newcomers such as ARY TV and Ajj TV have challenged their dominating status.

The Haroon group however still owns the 24-hour English news channel Dawn News that is popular among the urban elite.

Geo TV, owned by the Independent Media Corporation, is affiliated with the Jang Group of Newspapers. Geo News is Geo TV’s flagship. The Urdu channel is one of the most popular in Pakistan and has a large audience. Geo is however cable based with no terrestrial access.
By the way, in the Terror Free Tomorrow survey of Pakistan 2007, some 80% of the surveyed get their news from TV as the primary source, and an additional 14% list family and friends as their primary news source.

Further, there is the Islamist media.

In addition to the radicalisation of mainstream media, the Islamists also have their own media. Pakistan has always had religious media, but in the 1980s a new type of radical Islamist media came into existence that was established in order to support the call for Jihad in Afghanistan and building support for Islamist movements. This has now become a parallel media industry.

The number of radical publications runs into hundreds. Six major jihadi outfits print more than 50 newspapers and magazines alone. The Urdu monthly, Mujalla Al-Dawa, has a circulation of approximately 100,000. It is published by the Jamaat ud-Dawaa, an organisation run by Lashkar-e-Taiba which has been label as a terrorist organisation. Lashkar-e-Taiba also publishes the weekly paper, Ghazwa, claiming a circulation of approximately 200,000.

The Islamist party Jamaat-i-Islami publishes 22 publications with a total circulation equalling that of a large mainstream Pakistani newspaper. Many of these publications can be found in newsstands across the country; the banned publications are distributed around mosques, or delivered to subscribers’ home address. Glorification of the Mujahedins and disparage of the US and its allies are the dominant features of these publications. They criticise the government of Pakistan; and encourage true believers to die for Islam. Militant activities are highlighted and glorified as are calls for the Umma to unite against the enemies of Islam.

The jihadi and other radical organisations are also using electronic media. According to Altaf Ullah Khan, Professor in Mass Communication at Peshawar University, there are hundreds of underground Jihadi radios in FATA and NWFP.

Mullahs use the radio to glorification and to propagate their cause. But another very important use of the radios is to generate fear. Mullahs began using the radio to spread hate and fear a few years ago and realise that it is an effective weapons useful to instil terror in inhabitants of FATA and parts of NWPF who are cut off from the rest of the country and hostage to the Taliban and other militant groups. In Swat the notorious Mullah FM run by Maulvi Fazl Ullah broadcasts threats of attacks. These are always followed up with action  the next day if the people named do not comply and capitulate to the verdicts announced on the radio. People regularly listen to the radio to hear whether
they are named, or their business or profession banned. Children want to have a radio to hear whether their schools will be allowed to function or whether the age limit for girls to go out in public is further reduced.

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