Stories about television

TV rhetoric: Shut up and say something

“Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.” These words by George Bernard Shaw seem familiar. Aren’t we living in a society where every word we read has a background? The audacity of expression has been long lost and we have also lost the courage to read what we wish – to read what is not considered “essential reading,” to read something that is not a must for floating in the sea of absurdity around us. Do we need to change this? Yes, we do. Spectators of our own history Our ...

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Why Ali Saleem is wrong

Ali Saleem’s interview with The Express Tribune serves to highlight a critical flaw in Pakistan’s entertainment industry. When asked if he intends to return to India, Saleem remarks that: “Pakistan is plagued with problems and entertainment is not a priority there.” This declaration stands the risk of being misinterpreted, as it explicitly denies that a progressive attitude has been upheld to improve the deteriorating condition of the entertainment industry in Pakistan. But prior to pouring scorn on the validity of this statement, it is essential to understand how accurate a representation it is of Pakistan’s entertainment industry. Pakistan’s entertainment sector is an extant ...

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Corporate greed, sensationalism and an irresponsible media

“Exaggeration is truth that has lost its temper.” Khalil Gibran. We live in a world of exaggeration. A world blinded by megalomania. We are getting blinder every passing day. We are a case of collective schizophrenia. It is one of the most dangerous ailments of all, but are we the only ones that are blind. We are surely the damned ones. A sensationalist press, not an adversarial one Whenever something goes wrong in the world, we become the scapegoats. The international media paints Pakistanis as a people devoid of moral standards. The Pakistani media borrows this portrayal to strengthen the bias, giving ...

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Chhote Ustaad, Bigg Boss and reality of Indo-Pak relations

Indian television has suddenly seen a surge of Indo-Pak bonding in the last month. What started off as a peace-building initiative through music, by singers Sonu Nigam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan in the form of Chhote Ustaad, seemed to set a trend. Bigg Boss 4 had two Pakistani artists on its show soon afterward. However, while the first was a novel, brilliant idea, the second I have a problem with. Chhote Ustaad, as we all know, had one Indian and one Pakistani singer team up and compete with 11 other such pairs of children. While Sonu Nigam and Rahat Fateh ...

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Does our media have attention deficit disorder?

News stories are like bomb blasts in Pakistan. Stories, like bombs, go off at frequent intervals here. People die every day and those who survive get agitated and display their anger at the lack of security. But then another bomb explodes and everyone forgets about the previous one. It seems the media follows a similar path. The biggest story of the year The media told us that the floods were the most devastating catastrophe to have ever been witnessed by Pakistan. Newspaper headlines shouted that more people had been affected than in the Haiti earthquake, tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake ...

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Pakistan grows up…I think

For news-junkies like me, the past few weeks have been a feast! With the Park51/Cordoba House/Ground Zero Mosque controversy, the pyromaniac Pastor Terry Jones’ waltz, 9/11’s ninth anniversary and Eid coinciding, the global media was on fire, literally. With the disproportionate coverage these issues and events received individually and collectively on American media, it seemed, one, that there are only two people in the world: the Americans and the Muslims and two, a Muslim lobby is finally hard at work, giving its Jewish counterpart a run for its money. Of course, such explosives can no longer ...

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The crisis of Pakistani television

There is something wrong with our electronic media. It has no decency left, what with thrusting microphones in front of grieving mothers and sisters. It is also shocking to turn on the TV and hear so-called experts on foreign affairs talking on prominent Urdu channels about tearing India apart ‘along its inherent fault lines’, containing Israel by coercion or threatening it with nuclear bombs to ‘twist’ America’s arm and making it accede to our terms. (Incidentally, apart from rhetoric, these experts have no practical way to accomplish any of this.) The idea of unifying the Muslim Ummah is good, but stating that the ...

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The secret diary of a news anchor

News anchoring is quite underrated in Pakistan. People regard it as merely reading a script written by brilliant copy editors. But after one month  as a professional news anchor on Express 24/7 and I have realized what a misconception this is. When I told some of my friends about my new job, they asked me why not a show? My response was – why not news? Is news anchoring only about reading off the prompter? Surprisingly, news anchoring is still an alien concept to a lot of people I’ve come across. A lot of times the response I get is, “Oh so what is ...

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Morning madness with the irresponsible

I have often thought about the relevance of morning shows in our lives. Why, despite their mindless talk, are these hosts on every other channel so popular? Why have I never heard them say anything intelligent? But no matter how much their chattering gets to me and no matter how I wish PEMRA could control their script and content, I make it a point to listen to them (Nadia Khan on Geo, Sana Tariq on Hum TV and Shaista Wahidi on ARY) for just a few minutes every day – sometimes hoping to hear them say something constructive or just to see their attempts at ...

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Do-gooder television: What’s the real agenda?

Television is a deliciously dirty business. Producers come up with innovative new ways to rehash the same old stories – and if they do it well audiences get hooked. In Pakistan television programming has largely been a familiar mash up of breaking news, high gloss drama and below the belt humour – until now. Earlier this month former movie producer Rashid Khwaja (Very Good Dunya Very Bad Log) launched a new Pakistani channel with an unusual USP. The oh-so-creatively named ‘A-plus’ claims to have a ‘socially responsible’ line-up of programming. It has been airing reality shows which claim to contribute something of ‘value’ to ...

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