What is the worst thing about Pakistan’s media?

Published: March 22, 2012

Let us delve into this treasure trove of the Pakistani complainant’s mindset. DESIGN: EMA ANIS

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) deserves a pat on the back for its bold move towards greater transparency in their online complaints section – they’ve given the public access to the complaint log.

To be frank, a pat on the back for Pemra and a cold shiver down one’s spine is unfortunately the order of the day. Let us delve into this treasure trove of the Pakistani complainant’s mindset.

First of all, the top 10 list of offenders:

No Name Complaints
1 Samaa TV 450
2 Geo News 147
3 Geo Ent 95
4 Express News 32
5 AAG / Geo Aur 26
6 ARY Digital 21
7 HUM TV 13
8 Dawn News 11
9 Dunya TV News 11
10 AAJ News 8

That is a total of over 800 complaints; again, an encouraging sign for an accountability service that has a very narrow reach and hasn’t been marketed heavily. Leaving aside the Maya Khan phenomenon that accounts for over 400 complaints alone, what is it that Pakistanis with internet access complain about the most?

[Key: Below is a rough estimate, as some complaints overlapped in subject matter, and some have been rounded off]

Against ideology of Islam/Pakistan: 150+ complaints

Yes my friends, the biggest problem in Pakistan’s media – if the complaints are to be believed –  is the channels being anti-Pakistan, anti-Islam or the flip side of that coin: pro-India or pro-Israel.

Sample comment 1:

Promoting Hindu Ideology, Destroying Islamic Identity and Two Nation Theory and ALLAMA IQBAL Status. Making Propaganda against PAK ISI and Armed Forces which are defending Pakistan, Severe Restrictions must be put on these channels to operate to restrain them from harming Pakistan

Sample comment 2:

I would like to lodge a complaint against channels which are playing with the emotions of the common people. It is showing too much Indian content which is directly killing the ideology of Pakistan. They are ignoring all the sacrifices our ancestors gave at the time of Partition, in 1965, 1971 and 1999. It uselessly shows Bollywood filth in all its news bulletins, they should be given warnings or otherwise they should be banned. They are promoting nudity now. It’s seriously looking like if this continues for few more years they will show sex on their channels…long live Pakistan

Sample comment 3:

No time, during in every breaking news firstly they show “One Eye” before starting the breaking news and this is a sign of Jewish. Our beloved prophet Hazarat Muhammad PBUH quoted regarding the sign of one Eye as a sign of Jewish. Please stop it.

Fueled by a foul mix of twisted mindset, outright hatred and the arrogance of a simpleton with a fancy red cap, this is the Pakistan we have come to know and love. Ah, the ol’ scum of the Earth, always there when you need them to set the agenda and mindset dead backwards. Classy. This is definitely the media’s biggest problem.

Immorality/vulgarity: 130+ complaints

Yes my friends, the second biggest problem in Pakistan’s media is immorality and vulgarity on-screen, which in fact ties directly into, yes you guessed it: being anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam.

Sample comment 1:

I want to register my complaint against AAG TV who is going to on-air a program named “DATE WITH YOUR DREAM GIRL” I strongly condemn this program due to its immorality…please do something to save our society and ideology of Pakistan.

Sample comment 2:

Vulgar Local Content, Drama: “Mora Piya” at 8:00pm on every Friday. This drama is totally based on very shameful and rubbish topic. It is very disgraceful and embarrassing to telecast this drama on the channel of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. As it is very humiliating and not good for the mentality of the youth, please warn the channel plus discontinue this drama.

Maddeningly, if you actually scroll through all the complaints long enough, you almost start to believe (by the sheer volume of complaints) that this IS in fact, one of the biggest critical issues in the media – for a split second you believe that a date with a dream girl or vulgar clothing on-screen actually trumps falsified or unethical reporting (below). Dupattas, it seems, would resolve a lot more problems citizens have with the local media, than say, the sensationalising of news (also below).

Unethical/false reporting, programming: 60+ complaints

Coming in at a distant third is complaints about (mostly) TV news show hosts, and rarely, a complaint against unethical/false reporting. I know a lot of producers, reporters and desk folk on the broadcast front just breathed a big collective sigh of relief there! Let the unethical and false reporting continue! And remember, if there is ever a public outcry, a show host can always be sacrificed to gain back credibility, after all, isn’t that what that stable of pretty faces and megalomaniacal spin doctors are reared for?

Sensationalism: 11+ complaints

This is so far down the list, with so few complaints (most of them confused) it (sadly) doesn’t even merit commenting on. Again, if the complaints are to be used as a gauge for strategising, the average viewer doesn’t know the difference between “vulgar clothing”/“killing ideology of Pakistan”/a “One Eye” graphic and sensationalism. Turn up the nationalist rhetoric for a week and ask your female hosts to don a dupatta for a few episodes and the issue of “sensationalism” should be cured (because now it will be sensationalism, the right way!).

Promoting/encouraging criminal activity: 11+ complaints

Other (payment of salaries, payment of prizes): 4+ complaints

To the handful who logged in complaints for the above two categories: lagay raho!

*salute*

Read more by Jahanzaib, or follow him on Twitter here.

Jahanzaib Haque

Jahanzaib Haque

News buff and Web Editor, The Express Tribune. Jahanzaib tweets @Jhaque_ twitter.com/jhaque_

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

  • junaid shirazi

    Where are the complaints against channels and media persoanlities promoting homophobia?
    our media actively promotes and legitimises discrimination and persecution of the LGBT community.Why doesn’t PEMRA ever do anything about that?Recommend

  • faisal khan

    The pattern of complaints shows our society’s extreme obsession with religion.Our people try to ban everything,censor everything which the mullah’s find unacceptable.PEMRA should grow a backbone and not surrender before the pressure tactics of the religious fanatics.As it is our society has been held hostage to the violent demands of the religious fanatics for over 60 years,they must not be allowed to shove their ideology down the public’s throats.Recommend

  • zeeshan burki

    this fixation with women and their bodies is reflected in these ”complaints”.what women are wearing and what is the length of the clothes is a primary concern of the religious extremists.
    where is the outrage of the religious people when small girls are gangraped or when women are killed by their brothers and fathers?
    This sick fixation with women’s bodies and the control over them is behind these complaints to PEMRA.Recommend

  • nasir shami

    Any girl who has a functioning brain and doesn’t believe that she is inferior to men is ”immoral” according to the average pakistani man.As long as you are subservient,demure and worship your majazi khuda ,you are a ‘good’ girl.Any woman shown on tv who makes the decisions for her life is immoral for the ppl and therefore a complain fro ”immorality” on tv is made to the authority.
    Labelling everything you don’t like as ”immoral” is an old habit of our people.The authorities should have enough sense not to fall for the propaganda of the religious extremists.Recommend

  • Lubna hammad

    This active campaign by the religious rightwing to force the media to tow its regressive line must be resisted by PEMRA, PEMRA should not allow the religious people to dictate what can and what cannot be shown on tv.
    Religion is a private matter and it shouldn’t be allowed to interfere in the matters of the state institutions like PEMRA.Recommend

  • Rizvi

    Worthless column, btw.Recommend

  • IZ

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing the info. I guess it shows that we should be more proactive with complaints especially regarding encouraging criminal acts and libel/false reporting.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    The complaints / comments sections online have given the idiots of the world a platform. At least we can be grateful that now we KNOW they exist!Recommend

  • Mutee

    So speaking against attacks on Pakistan’s ideology is “twisted”, “arrogant” and “backwards”?Recommend

  • http://www.zaidzamanhamid.wordpress.com Zaid Hamid

    arrogance of a simpleton with a fancy red cap

    Did you talk about us?

    Our mujahids have done well.. We will give our azaans everywhere…Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    You may think that since media is a consumer-driven business – and the consumers are in favour of one-sided news that feeds their jingoism and blames their problems on external agents – one may think that our country and its media is simply doomed.

    But it’s actually not so bad.

    Media’s main purpose is to sell news. And for that matter, it’s not as important whether the consumer likes the news of not. It just has to be provocative enough to sell newspapers,

    Take for instance Express Tribune. It often publishes reports and blogs on the homosexual community, which are never well-received by the conservative readers. But whether to commend or to complain, they’ll keep reading the articles and posting comments, and ensure that the piece gets more than its fair share of views.

    At the end, media has done its duty to inform the public, and made profit out of it.Recommend

  • Ahmed HM

    So what the writer wants to conclude: A major portion of Pakistani society consists of those who believe in the Islamic / Pakistani ideology, and this makes them narrow minded and arrogant. Furthermore, the liberal or tribune definition makes them fanatics, ignorant, uneducated and extremists.

    Fueled by a foul mix of twisted mindset, outright hatred and the arrogance of a simpleton with a fancy red cap, this is the Pakistan we have come to know and love. Ah, the ol’ scum of the Earth, always there when you need them to set the agenda and mindset dead backwards. Classy. This is definitely the media’s biggest problem.

    I find this paragraph of Jahanzeb Haque very amusing. I am sorry Mr. Jahanzeb, you were really not sarcastic enough to score any points here. :) I just wonder how much time you spent in coming up with it, coming up with something that would smartly reflect your utmost hatred for Islam / Muslims in the name of rationalism which is normally too twisted and biased. I apologize again Jahanzeb, but I am also one of those who launch such complaints. And I am also one of those whose friends are Hindus and Christians (no Jews till now though).

    Its also surprising to see the comments of many readers, who have been calling this article a great piece of work, oh I pity those frustrated individuals. Their hero Jahanzeb can keep writing such useless articles, its for the benefit for all who believe in Islamic and the Pakistani ideology in further understanding the minds of the liberal mafia. It was before when people used to believe in what the tribune used to promote (and that included me as well). But now it turns out that Tribune material is nothing more than repetitive, selective, illogical and untruthful ranting against Islam and Pakistan.Recommend

  • Talat Haque

    Appreciate your article ………… it is taking people one level up the higher thinking skills ……… if only we learn to analyze, we’d be on our way! Recommend

  • Imtiaz

    It’s true that Pakistani media is totally out of control. Making fun of political leadership proves that media is only interested in their rating. PEMRA should enforce regulations on it….!!Recommend

  • http://pakistani-revival.blogspot.com Ovais

    I do agree media is trying to sabotage islamic image .. and also promoting some small problems since death of majority doesnt matter but minority doesRecommend

  • http://NewYork Falcon

    The writer would have done better by just providing the data rather than adding his own commentary. Overall data is good. It tells us where we stand as a nation and the state of our ideological pulse. However, based on the comments and general tone of the article, I see a negative trend picking up in some intellectual circles where majority demographics of Pakistan are being pushed aside as illiterate, ignorant, and religious fanatics. This is a very unhealthy attitude on behalf of elitists and I don’t expect anything good to come out of it. A better and more humble approach would be to get down into weeds, share the suffering of these people, and try to devise solutions rather than passing shallow judgements. Recommend

  • Mir

    unethical and false reporting come last in list. this shows we like rumours, conspiracies and shy away from truthRecommend

  • Zeta

    Why go anywhere else when ET is forefront in sabotaging the ideology, culture, religion, institutions and interests of Pakistan. Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    @nasir shami:
    “Any girl who has a functioning brain and doesn’t believe that she is inferior to men….”

    Mullas are right in maintaining their stance about the weaker sex—not having a well functioning brain. Thinking otherwise would amount to sacrilege. You don’t want the most obedient servants of god. that belongs to the privileged class, to lose the chance of going to heaven.

    Go through the religious texts, right from Adam, women have been luring men with their charm. They are deceptive. Not many women will make it to heaven. Hell will be populated with these low-IQ creatures, . Recommend

  • Naseem Kabooro

    When I watched on a leading news channel that some people on the roads of Karachi feeding the birds, and evidently causing the accidents.
    They just reported it…
    I was expecting from them to stop the people or at least advise them to go to some plains to do the same action of high moral,
    but they (media) just reported and got the job done…Recommend

  • KKK

    Transparency? The catalogue only shows a list of stupid complaints. What about th complaints lodged against PTV?Recommend

  • R,N,Kiani

    i agree on the allegation raised against the ET media in promoting the vulgarity especially in DRAMA serials, exaggeratedly Showing Love and affection in name of after-marital affairs is not going to produce a good impact on viewers mind. Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    @junaid shirazi:
    Who cares about that? The US and the West which this so-called “liberal” media to idealizes has overcome a million other problems before coming up to this one, and they haven’t completely tackled it. Just because they’re doing it right now doesn’t mean we have to. We have other, more important issues to worry about.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    Ahmed HM,

    Learn to appreciate the difference between jingoism and patriotism. The author criticized the former, not the latter.

    And the writer didn’t say anything that “reflects his utmost hatred for Islam / Muslims”. It was a nonsense allegation, and you ought to be utterly ashamed of yourself. His irreverence towards a certain rodeo-clown conspiracy theorist doesn’t translate into disdain for all Pakistani Muslims.Recommend

  • Ahmed HM

    @Faraz Talat:

    I am not sorry for what I wrote, I am firm. FYI, the tone of the article delivers the message. As for “reflects his utmost hatred for Islam / Muslims” phrase, I think you skipped what I wrote. It was ” smartly reflect your utmost hatred for Islam / Muslims in the name of rationalism which is normally too twisted and biased “. This isn’t the first time the writer has written an article on the Tribune, I believe its been his livelihood for quite some time now. Or may be this is the first time you ever read one of his articles? :p You are a regular blogger, you yourself know why you come and blog here. Recommend

  • Anonymous

    vulgar clothing on-screen actually trumps falsified or unethical reporting (below). Dupattas, it seems, would resolve a lot more problems citizens have with the local media, than say, the sensationalising of news (also below).

    –>>>DO SOME RESEARCH DUDE!<<<<—-

    One particularly pernicious effect of the constant exposure to sexualized images of girls is that individuals and society may be “trained” to perceive and label sexualized girls as “seductive.” Studies have shown that adult men often misperceive friendliness in adult women as sexual interest (Abbey, 1982, 1987). Images of young girls who are made to
    look like adult women may evoke similar responses.

    –>>Reference:Abbey, A. (1982). Sex differences in attributions for friendly
    behavior: Do males misperceive females’ friendliness?
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 830-838.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    “”"
    vulgar clothing on-screen actually trumps falsified or unethical reporting (below). Dupattas, it seems, would resolve a lot more problems citizens have with the local media, than say, the sensationalising of news (also below).”"”

    —>>>One particularly pernicious effect of the constant exposure
    to sexualized images of girls is that individuals and
    society may be “trained” to perceive and label sexualized
    girls as “seductive.” Studies have shown that adult men often
    misperceive friendliness in adult women as sexual interest
    (Abbey, 1982, 1987). Images of young girls who are made to
    look like adult women may evoke similar responses.<<<—–

    Abbey, A. (1982). Sex differences in attributions for friendly
    behavior: Do males misperceive females’ friendliness?
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 830-838.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Anonymous,

    “One particularly pernicious effect of the constant exposure to sexualized images of girls is that individuals and society may be “trained” to perceive and label sexualized girls as ‘seductive’. Studies have shown that adult men often misperceive friendliness in adult women as sexual interest”

    Then the onus is on men to shake themselves out of this delusion. Men and their behavioural issues are their own to fix, not of the women on TV. A good place to start would be to educate the society that not every woman in a burqa is pious, nor is every woman in tight jeans a slut.Recommend

  • http://deleted Bilal Afzal

    Everyone has its own view. We all need to diversify our thoughts. Newspapers are just spread news and give information.They have nothing to do with spreading or defaming the religion. First of all, we need to clarify our political ideology . Should it be Islamic, communist, theocratic, democratic or islamic-democracy. If someone have inclination towards islamic ideology, he/she will ,definitely, despise vulgarity, women with jeans etc. However, if someone will believe in democracy, he/she will not care about others as democracy has freedom of expression-wrong or right. Majority is always authority. So, whatever your school of thought, you have to accept the view of majority, Islamic 0r democratic whatever it is.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    “”"Then the onus is on men to shake themselves out of this delusion. Men and their behavioural issues are their own to fix, not of the women on TV. A good place to start would be to educate the society that not every woman in a burqa is pious, nor is every woman in tight jeans bad.

    – This is a psychological effect neither nor men are to blame for this! if you take narcotics how can you possibly stop yourself getting affected by it? Whatever you consume it will effect you?, Btw ! my view was maintained by Psychologist! you are not a psychologist! Don’t be a hypocrite! quote an expert [online proof] to bolster your point! otherwise! maintaining a western view despite proven is nothing BUT INFERIORITY COMPLEX. Recommend

  • simmi sindhu

    media is going to be used by certain criteria in Pakistanmay be in particular way of its interest politically and economically that is result for some monopoly of certain thing creates use and miss use by leading to youth in tangle way..the cultural and ethically we are day by day going to be confused,i am not accused of at all but PEMRA has to be in certain way to elaborate our media in proper way because this country is socially powered by democracy of different nations so to promote all nation cultures through the own channels by avoiding rough and favourably uses of channels. Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    Most of the stories published in the Paki media, apparently are not cross checked.
    One example:

    After the Karsaz Explosion, the organizers claimed that they had retrieved two severed heads. These heads, were found hanging from a tree branch, belonged to the perpetrators and will be handed over to the authorities. .

    Somehow, the story died down after a week or so. Media never followed it up.
    Names of the persons who made that statement were never revealed.
    Identities of the “perpetrators” were not revealed.
    Were these two heads handed over to the inquiry team?
    What does the police plan to do to trace these person’s affiliation with any group?

    If the media was told to kill the story, who was behind that?
    The case was not followed.

    Is this not lazy journalism, bordering yellow journalism?
    To claim that English media is better than Urdu media, is an exaggeration.
    Do the media workers ever examine their own-selves?

    How long would media thrive on feeding this staple diet of poppycock to the public?

    The list of needed reforms can be expanded.Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/sxahir Zahir

    We are Islamic Republic of Pakistan and we should not forget the teaching of our Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) , so one has to draw a line in accordance to religion rather than different opinion of people
    So what’s the mullah thought in it? Extremism can be on either side my friend. The way things are going, perhaps we will find pornography acceptable!Recommend

  • Syed Mohummed

    Assalam u Alaikum,

    A great piece of article indeed. Thanks for sharing the worthy info dear. Islam teaches us to respect women & treat them with full honor, dignity & care. Those who are against the female hosts in unethical getup have nothing to do with being narrow minded or considering women as inferior to men but they wish to see them in the way that our Religion, moral & social norms teaches us. It has become so difficult to watch any channel of Pakistan with family that most of the time is consumed in switching channels just to avoid any offensive scenes.

    So its time we must learn to look into our domains & clean our very own mess rather than interfering in others’ affairs

    RegardsRecommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Anonymous,

    Coincidentally, I’m a psychiatrist.

    This is not like narcostics at all. Drugs directly alter your nervous system to incite physical dependency in the addict, which cannot be compared to the matter we’re discussing.

    Sexual impulses are, of course, unavoidable. But it’s not impossible to train the body to resist acting out on these impulses where it is socially unfavourable. That’s why you don’t immediately have intercourse with any and every person you find attractive. You’ve trained yourself to abstain from it, even though that’s against your biological instinct.

    It is very much possible to train the public that any woman who does not have every inch of her anatomy draped, is not necessarily looking for sex. It’s the kind of ignorance that can be dealt with properly, without punishing women for men’s inability to practice self-restraint.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    @Loneliberal PK:
    It proves once again that religious norm-givers, even in the past, were not very educated. It is still surprising, that the nominally educated (paRha likha tabqah) surrenders to any nonsense that is churned out by beardos..

    They simply say good bye, to the apparently functioning brains.Recommend

  • simmi

    salam,
    media of pakistan is ecstatically going to be detracted.there should be modesty of certin criteria…Recommend

  • Omer Sher

    I totally agree that Pakistani Media is playing a more negative role than a positive role in the societyRecommend