Media watchdog

Media watchdog

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, on Wednesday, issued a notice to several television channels over airing of graphic footage following the Bhoja Air plane crash last week.

The body also sent out notices to a number of entertainment channels, saying “vulgarity, obscenity and abusive” languages must not be aired on local television, terming it unethical and irresponsible.

While the warning must be welcomed as a much-needed move, it remains unclear how Pemra will gauge the levels of obscenity, vulgarity, dramatisation and so on.

How can standards be set on the quality of programming being aired by private television channels?

Having over a hundred private television channels shows how the industry has progressed from the days of singular, state-owned channel, but it also makes the task of quality control a very difficult one.

In such a scenario, what measures must television channels take to ensure a respectable standard, while also maintaining independence?

What legal implications, if any, could this notice have on the private television industry in Pakistan? invites its readers to put forth their opinions on the legal and social repercussions of Pemra’s notice.


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18 Responses to “Media watchdog”

  1. Bokhari says:

    -Gauging the levels of obscenity, vulgarity.
    Media management & policy professionals, Social sector activists, Educationists, Public sector can devise a strategy. Media policy Models of various nations could also be partially replicated or viewed by keeping our own entire scenario in view.

  2. ejaz ali says:

    First,I have yet to convince myself that this “tamashbeen” frenzic reporting media (especially the electronic media) is the true freedom of expression or bringing out the real truth behind the problems through intellectual research and then generate the debate by the related field specialists is the true depiction of media freedom. Secondly, for example,is media serious enough to see the resolution of problems? lets take karachi violence, I mean if leyari is a case in study, media highlighted it as no go area due to exremely powerful criminal individuals and gangs have their control and some out of them may have political backings as well( i pray to be wrong). Now have you ever seen that such type of gangs have ever been busted with out the use of adequate force? the LEA people are sacrificing their lives but the media is just concerned about innocent people trapped in between cross fire. Why media is not asking these people to stop harboring and protecting the criminals within, and please clear the fog that law and order has never been maintained without the use of force, All these so called civilised societies have adequate, well equiped and highly paid LEAs at their disposal to ensure Law and order, its their deterrence and careful monitering is the key to success not the politicisation of departments and nurturing crimnals/gangs under the sleeves by political parties. We are going no where with such reporting rather infecting the young brains and wide spread desperation and disappointment.

  3. Ali says:

    Yes media has truly gone insane nowdays. They will do whatever make them popular, and there are no regulations to regulate this industry..
    Goverment must regulate this sector especially with regard to video clips which are aired after emergency situations like bomb blast etc..

  4. Umar hashmi says:

    It is very difficult to impose regulation upon independent media by some state watchdog like pemra as media often portray it as a restriction on its legitimate democratic independence. i think channels themselves should take this ititiative to purge this industery from black sheeps and abusers. All stake holders including government and media should collectively establish a code of conduct for shaping descipline of journelism in the interest of democracy and people’s psychological welfare and all channels be bound to follow it this code of conduct is need of the hour as media is in many cases badely affecting psyche of our society moreover this mad race for getting sky high ratings by hook or by crook needs to be checked.

  5. Syed A. Zafar USA says:

    This is the first time I am noticing that all the commentators are on the same page even after having a slight difference of opinion. So having true comments and every body agreeing that media is not doing what it is supposed to do, can we form some kind of association/forum to address this issue collectively, in order to send a message to media and its masters, that enough is enough. I am quite sure government alone cannot do any thing. It needs our support. The moment PEMRA starts fixing and taking disciplinary actions against channels, the opposition leaders, advertising companies, activists and advocates of freedom of speech and expression, our elite class and those who have serious complexes for foreign culture pop up from all over and start shouting and agitating against the government. The media owners like GEO starts exploiting people through their revolutionary songs/programs which gives people impression that government is against freedom of speech and entertainment. They create a situation that scares the government and it backs up. That is it. If we all agree that media is a bad influence on our society, can’t we support our government at least for just cause and take a stand against those who sponsor, report, write, produce and promote sensation, vulgarity and nude culture in our society. Only talking and commenting is not enough. In order to save our generation and culture we have got to do something. When we can join hands with those who most of the time create a hell and law and order situation in the country to achieve their selfish goals, why can’t we take a stand against the rising evil/cancer in our society?

    I am really upset with those writers, producers, directors and sponsors who give impression that freedom of speech and expression means discarding our beautiful culture/values and promoting, sensationalism, nudity, vulgarity/punk culture, cat walks, divas and dirty gay stuff. What is fun when our daughters, sisters and even mothers now a days getting rid of their dupattas or hanging it on one side like a burden and showing their under arms and other body parts as something to be proud of. One bad thing leads to another. God forbid, a time may come when our culture, values, human decency and dignity will be history. Think about it, just go back 3-4 decades and compare our television programs especially our dramas and musical program. They were much artistic, amusing/entertaining and ever lasting than today’s filthy and boring programs. So what is fun and artistic in being vulgar/nude? Please support PEMRA for its efforts to make our media ethical, civil and productive for our society. By the way, I am not a member of PEMRA or any political party.

    • Maryam Naseer says:

      Excellent Mr A. Zafar. I totaly agree with you, what you have said is 100% true, i don’t know on whose commands and lines our media is working.

  6. Bilal says:

    “the question remains unclear how Pemra will gauge the levels of obscenity, vulgarity…”
    What you can watch with your daughter, your mother and your family is not obscene, what you can’t is obscene and vulgar. Is it that difficult?

    Pakistan this day is led by media and it’s led to the dead end. Media is oblitrating our Socio Religious cultural values. It is destroying our family systems, trying to induce already destroyed western and indian system. Patriotism is lmited to PTV only, no Patriotic dramas, Poems, Programs or anything given due attention that it should be given. All you see is Indian Programs, dramas trying to prevail indian culture and senseless comedy programs.

    News channels dont miss a single opportunity to make money. They don’t even care, if they have to sell someone’s tears, someone’s privacy and even someone’s blood. Truth is presented as a lie and lie as truth. They have damaged Pakistan as a state. They have damaged Pakistan’s economy. They have influenced Pakistan’s Judiciary, millitary and you name it.

  7. Adeel says:

    Media guys ‘enjoy’ breaking news, be it a dead body, a burnt face or a demolished house, they have no norms, rules, ethics what to show and what not to.
    the latest unfortunate episode of Aircrash was covered in all of our Media channels as a ‘cash’ item or as a movie trailer. Its sad but its true.
    Media reporters and cameramen were showing horrific scenes and next day almost all channels displayed a winning advert that “We were the first one to break that new”……………Alas, was it a good news, you are so proud to announce.

    I dont understand what is a news in asking a relative who lost his father or mother that “aap key kya feelings hain?”
    I think they are mature enough to learn such basic things, otherwise join lollywood or cover stage dramas.

  8. Amna says:

    The media industry, the news channels, the anchors, they all should be held accountable for cashing in on people’s miseries. They have no right to make a mockery of the public’s feelings. I feel that one of the reasons our society has become so violent is because images of scarred, mutilated dead bodies are shown so casually on the channels. The media channels who endorse showing of these hurtful images have become completely immune to the suffering that is caused to the families of the victims and on impressionable children when they view them on tv. It is inhuman and it is immoral. The race for sensationalism for personal ratings at the expense of the feelings of a common man is making us even more pessimistic. The media’s job is simply to give facts and they should just stick to it. There is no investigative journalism in our country. It appears that the only objective of the media personnels is thriving and compounding on the masses despair. Accountability of politicians: Yes. Accountability of generals: Yes. Accountability of judiciary: Yes. But accountability of media: First.

  9. Sohail says:

    I think it is very crucial for the media to firstly have a clear policy and then implication on that policy. Media Policy by the media channel itself is something I do not see at most of the channels.

    It is a mix plate carrying everything on almost all the channels. Aside from the graphic content, different levels of understanding and gauging what is suitable for the audience and what is not and above all, no concrete method/mechanism/body where a viewer can report about any media effectively. There must be some ways to report Media but how effective they are, I am not sure.

    On cultural front, the policy of different channels is not clear and does not even meet any criteria or standards. Channels are frequently playing questionable songs/dance sequences in the NEWS while talking about some entertainment headlines or even when mocking some politicians. Such content goes even to those who only prefer to watch the headlines or news. This is totally unfair and apparently its very hard except for one or two news channels in the private sector, to watch a decent news bulletin or session.

    I also do not see the Standard Operating Procedures defined by any channel that is shared with the viewers. What is level of the sensitivity/sexual content they are adopting.

    For instance, if I buy a movie, I can see the Ratings and decide about it. But about a channel, I am not sure and you never no when you will be forced to switch the channel suddenly.

    It also speaks largely about the untrained Media staff who has no formal training in this field and the urge/lust to be successful in no given time.

    On the other hand, the Media Watch Dog is not going in any direction. This is complete chaos.

    The above comments are not about how much liberal or less liberal a channel should be but atleast the viewer should be clearly told to what extent they can go!

  10. tipu says:

    It was extremely irresponsible reporting and discussions in media which led to the murder of Mr Salman taseer.I laugh at media that at one hand they beat the drums of patriotism and nationalism and next moment they are dieing to show indian movie trailors and actors.They telecast religious programmes bringing in MULLAS as AALIMS who repeatedly issue fatwas agains Vulgarity.singing etc and in the same programme during breaks there are women with limited clothes and provocative poses.They raised huge voices,discussions and commentaries on fake degrees owned by many of our MPs but failed to check their own ranks that how many among them are genuine journalists.if i continue the list will become longer and longer.Bottom line is as part of corrupt and illitrate nation our media is no different.

  11. Nasir says:

    So, this question is a day late to ask. The governing body should have been created before the media was set loose. That being said, it is common sense what is obscenity and vulgarity and could be easily regulated. We should not follow western sesationalize media where only published stories are the one that make an impact. Promote a good, healthy, balance point of view of every side. Don’t offend minority, majority people by depicting/pointing their short fall, rather encourage their good behavior.
    Furthermore, the media should be regulated where the shows are concerned with deceased humans, like the Bhoja airline crash. Covering a story is one thing sensationalizing is another.

  12. Bilal says:

    “the question remains unclear how Pemra will gauge the levels of obscenity, vulgarity…”

    I think this is not the rocket science you are making it out to be. Sexual intimacy, nudity, swearing are considered vulgar and obscene by most Pakistanis, save the “liberal/Westernized” few. You do not even need a poll for that, except if that is what would shake you out of your tunnel vision of the “moderate/enlightened” Pakistan, where sexual “liberation” is thought of being the medicine against radicalization. Thrusting Western mores on an oriental/conservative society only fuels the radical schism.

  13. Maryam Naseer says:

    Media is being termed as fourth pillar of state after legislation, executive and judiciary in modern days but I have never seen a media as “FREE and INDEPENDENT” in the whole world as it is in Pakistan. Pakistani media is the pure example of lacking moral values and ethics, running hard for RATINGS, sensationalization and spreading hopelessness in the whole society. No doubt, media did its part in creating awareness in the masses but overall it has totally failed in promoting positive aspects and giving a right direction to society because today media is the basic source of influence for illiterate populace of Pakistan. To me PEMRA should define certain limits for current media and ban the channels not abiding the rules.

  14. I believe the move by the regulatory body is a good one–and much-needed as well. The television channels while reporting a certain event, especially the one involving human tragedy, goes overboard and cross all the limits of decency and professional ethics. There’s simply no need whatsoever to show dead bodies, or even their belongings, strewn across a wide area as a result of a plane crash or a bomb blast. Though highlighting such ghastly scenes of death and destruction tempt both broadcasters and viewers–given a contemptible part of human nature–this runs counter to the professionalism expected of well-known media groups which have been informing and educating people for decades. So the Pemra’s move, aimed primarily at teaching a lesson or two to immature and unprofessional media outlets, should be applauded and the channels, instead of venting their unwarranted anger at the body, should learn to behave and report an event in a professional and effective manner. Why not learn something from the BBC or other highly professional and serious western channels?

  15. Abbas says:

    Media is a backbone for any nation’s promotion of culture, moral values and part of defense strategy. Pakistan’s moral decline is due to failedand vulgar leadership. It even has infiltrated into psyche of Media Leadersip. They try to put balm on nation’s injuries by showing fashion shows. It has caused to nation’s moral sore to further swell. Only way to heal is stop it on both ends, Extremism and Vulgarity. Other Muslim countries media is not even allowed to show affairs or rapes, Instead they are encouraged to promote positive values as there is no shortage of truthful Positive Stories.

    • Bilal says:

      I am at a loss to understand how fashion shows put a balm on our industries? I thought they objectified, demeaned and sexualized women at the altar of greedy profits. on Facebook on Facebook