A source in the broadcast industry reveals that despite the fact that viewers prefer watching entertainment programs (nearly 50 per cent tune to entertainment channels and cable channels featuring Indian movies) more news channels will be clogging the already saturated 24/7 news programming.
First up is Capital TV launching on March 23, 2013. It is owned by Basit Sheikh, son of Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, a former FIA official. Sharmila Farooqi of PPP is engaged to another son of Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, Hashaam Riaz Sheikh according to the source. Riaz Sheikh and Co are said to be quite close to President Asif Ali Zardari so much so that back in 2010 it was reported in the News that the Presidency had pressurized Hajvery University, a private university in Lahore, not to declare the degree of Ahmed Riaz Sheikh’s wife Shabina Riaz, a PPP MPA, as fake. (http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-295-Ahmed-Riaz-Sheikh%E2%80%99s-wife-also-declared-a-fake-MP)
Capital TV has so far lured quite a few well-known broadcast journalists to join its channel based in Islamabad. Nasim Zehra, who was with Dunya News for 5 years, is quite a prominent and well-respected name in the industry. She was hosting a weekly talk show Policy Matters and was in the launch team of Dunya News. She will probably be utilizing that experience to be launching another news channel. Although the background work to the channel has pretty much been done prior to her joining with the hiring of COO, anchorpersons, camerapersons, content producers etc. According to her twitter feed her new talk show will be aired thrice a week beginning first week of April.
Fahad Hussain is another Capital TV lucrative catch. However while perusing Fahad’s CV it can pretty much be said that he does not have the disposition to be loyal to any channel. At Express News he held the position of Director News for nearly four years, was Director News at Dunya TV for barely a year, at ARY News he hosted Pakistan Tonight where he was Executive Director Special Projects and switched to Waqt News hosting Tonight with Fahad. After a mere stint of five months with Waqt News Fahad joined Capital TV as its COO. Bets are on as to how long Mr Disloyal TV Anchor will stick around with Capital TV.
News Anchor Javed Iqbal who earned his credentials at Geo News especially for his crisp reading of news bulletins and asking the right questions has also joined Capital TV. According to website Journalism Pakistan, he has joined as a group Director. Earlier Javed Iqbal was associated with Dunya News.
Geo Tez is yet another 24/7 news channel that is soon going to be launched by the Geo/Jang Network. Test transmission has already started within the Jang premises. Geo Tez will be different from Geo News in which the sole focus will be only on news bulletins and there will be no infotainment programs such as Ek Din Geo Kay Saath, Khabarnaak, Hum Sab Umeed Say Hain and the likes. The human resource for the channel will be more or less the same as Geo News. Geo English has in fact been renamed as Geo Tez and was allowed to do so by the order of the Islamabad High Court that was hearing a case pertaining to the issue.
So with the addition of two more news channels, here are a couple of questions that comes to one’s mind:
- Will Geo Tez and Capital TV will be like any other news channel that lack intellectual content and narrative depth? Will the viewers ever get a news channel that will stand out for its fresh and different perspective?
- With the plethora of news and talk-shows being bombarded on the viewers has anybody analysed or planning to analyse whether there been an increase/decline in their political knowledge?
- The internet penetration in Pakistan is increasing in double digits according to Internet Service Providers of Pakistan the figure ranging from 25 million to 30 million users. Hence many are reading their news on their laptops, mobile phones and other such devices primarily because these devices are handy, ad-free and deliver news instantly. News channels will have to soon change their way they deliver to the fickle viewers competing with the cyberworld. Question is are they preparing for this changing scenario?