Pakistan's Media and Publishing Boom

With the planned September launch of its Pakistan edition, Newsweek magazine is the latest publication to join Pakistan's media revolution, according to Newsweek Pakistan will be the first licensed international news magazine for the country and the eighth local edition under the Washington Post Co.-owned Newsweek brand. Other country editions published by Newsweek include those in Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, Poland, Russia and Turkey. In addition to featuring more local content, the country editions target local and international advertisers with special pricing to be competitive in the targeted media markets.

Newsweek Pakistan will be published under license by AG Publications, a privately-owned media company in Pakistan. Fasih Ahmed, who has reported for The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek International, will be the editor of Newsweek Pakistan. Ahmed won a New York Press Club award in 2008 for Newsweek's coverage of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Initially, there will be 30,000 copies of Pakistan edition printed each week.

The current media revolution sweeping the nation began ten years ago when Pakistan had just one television channel, according to the UK's Prospect Magazine. Today it has over 100. Together they have begun to open up a country long shrouded by political, moral and religious censorship—taking on the government, breaking social taboos and, most recently, pushing a new national consensus against the Taliban. The birth of privately owned commercial media has been enabled by the Musharraf-era deregulation, and funded by the tremendous growth in revenue from advertising targeted at the burgeoning urban middle class consumers.

According to Daily Times, Chairman Mushtaq Malik of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has said that the cable television sector “is the fast growing segment among the electronic media ventures”. In the first 100 days of the current government, he has claimed that new licenses for 16 satellite TV channels, 10 FM radio stations, and 232 cable TV channels have been granted. It is anticipated that this would lead to additional investment worth Rs. 2.5 billion, generating 4000 additional jobs in this sector. The cable television sector alone is employing some 30,000 people in the country.

Foreign media, such as the business channel CNBC Pakistan, have also found a niche with the stellar performance and increased viewer and investor interest in Karachi stock exchange in the last decade. The Gallup Pakistan estimates that the number of TV viewers age 10 and above has increased from 63 million in 2004 to 86 million in 2009. Though exact numbers are hard to find, it is estimated that the rapid growth of Pakistan's media market over the last decade has attracted significant investment in the range of billions of dollars, and produced hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. There are 150 advertising agencies and 74 production companies. Given the rising power of the media to shape Pakistani society, public opinion and government policy, it is important to have greater transparency on sources of investments and revenue in the media business.

More than 100 private FM radio stations have been licensed in the last ten years.
Scores of unlicensed FM stations are said to operate in the tribal areas of North-West Frontier Province. They are usually operated by clerics, some of whom are accused of promoting violence.

There are more than 262 publications in print, according to All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS). Pakistan's press is among the most outspoken in South Asia, although its influence is limited by a literacy level of only 56%.

World telecoms body the ITU estimated in March 2008 that there were 17.5 million internet users, and the Internet access is continuing to grow rapidly. In addition to the established print, radio and television media websites, the Internet is also providing a platform for activists and emerging journalists to express their views through myriad online publications, blogs and social networking sites. With over 56% penetration of mobile phones in Pakistan, the widespread availability and affordability of modern communication technology has helped generate tremendous interest in the use of voice calls, photo or video uploading and text messaging to share news, opinions and ideas broadly.

Pakistan has a population of over 170 million and daily sales of only about 100,000 copies of English-language publications. The English language print media is dominated by local newspapers and magazines published by Dawn, Jang and Nawai Waqt media empires. The entry of Newsweek's Pakistan edition in the market will offer both local and international content, and is expected to start off with a print run of 30,000 copies, according to the Financial Times.

The media boom in Pakistan has also brought attention to a new crop of Pakistani writers writing in English. Names such as Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Daniyal Mueenuddin (In Other Rooms, Other Wonders), Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows), Mohammad Hanif (A Case of Exploding Mangoes) and Nadeem Aslam (The Wasted Vigil) have been making waves in literary circles and winning prizes in London and New York, according to the Guardian newspaper.

I personally experienced the pervasive effects of Pakistan's media boom last summer when I visited the country. I saw multiple, competing channels catering to almost every niche, whim and taste---from news, sports, comedy and talk shows to channels dedicated to cooking, fashion, fitness, music, business, religion, local languages and cultures etc. The media have had a profound influence on how many young people talk, dress and behave, emulating the outspoken media personalities, actors, preachers, singers, sportsmen, celebrities and fashion models. The growth in Pakistan's media market has resulted in more advertising, more competition and more choice.

Pakistan finds itself in the midst of many crises, ranging from a deep sense of insecurity and economic stagnation to low levels of human development and insufficient access to basic necessities of life such as proper nutrition, education and health care. My hope is that the mass media will effectively play a responsible role to inform and educate Pakistanis on the fundamental issues of poor governance in Pakistan, and help in shaping the debate and policies to solve some of the most serious problems facing the nation today.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on April 2, 2012 at 10:46am

Here's a PRI report on journalism in Pakistan:

Lawrence Pintak, dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, is advising journalism students at four universities in Pakistan’s tribal regions, where the Taliban is strongest.

A professor at one of the universities told him, “we need to include conflict safety training in our curriculum,” because students face roadside bombs and Taliban threats while on class assignments, and professors are killed and kidnapped. Campus radio stations are visited regularly by military intelligence and numerous journalists have been threatened, beaten or killed for their work.

Even with the dangers, Pintak said journalism is flourishing in the region, with many men and women signing up for the programs.

Pintak said young Pakistanis are pursuing journalism, “because they want to have a voice. Journalism is another way for them to impact their communities and their country.”

Students have been given radio stations, in part, through USAID, which trains student journalists and act as a force to counter Mullah Radio, extremist pro-Taliban and Sharia law broadcasts.

In both urban and rural tribal areas, Pintak said access to news is thriving. There's also increased opportunities for women.

"The one difference is that the male students may go off to do an internship at a major news organizaton, and, in many cases, the familes don't want the women to leave," he said.

Female students are encouraged to do their internships in the campus radio stations if their families do not want them traveling to the cities.

Their families have reason to fear large cities, as many journalists who have been killed in Pakistan were killed in Karachi and Islamabad. A senior journalist told Pintak a number of journalists in Karachi have been receiving threats.

“Some choose to stay quiet over the matter, but I know of at least four other journalists, some of them who work for the local media, who have also received similar threats from the Taliban,” he said.

Journalists in Pakistan face a number of obstacles and great opposition from the military, extremists and the Taliban.
Pintak said meeting journalism professors from the region put his problems as the head of a journalism school in perspective.

“While we worry about budget cuts, they are literally putting their lives on the line for journalism education, and that’s a very inspiring thing,” he said. "They have students who are cutting up old newspapers and magazines to paste together a newspaper. They're teaching online journalism without computers. When they saw what else we could do, they couldn't suck up enough information."

Pakistan is set to have its first ever journalism awards March 28, in collaboration with the leading press clubs across the country.

The Agahi Awards will hand out accolades in 15 different categories, including business, economy, conflict, corruption, crime, education, infotainment, the connection between water, energy and food security, gender and governance.

In addition, to creating more awareness of social issues, the categories of human rights, interfaith, judiciary, media ethics, terrorism and extremism have also been included. The goal of the awards is to imporove the state of journalism in Pakistan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 5, 2012 at 10:15pm

Here's an excerpt of an Op Ed by Ejaz Haider in Express Tribune:

The Express-Freely Tribune (EFT)? The new kid on the block making waves, printing everyone from that obnoxious ISPR-ISI-CIA-RAW-Mossad-DPC agent EH to the respectable, politically correct libs, Pak-style. They are a free for all maila, the EFT-wallahs, even getting the injuns to comment freely. But most of all they are the Twitteratis’ heartthrobs, trending there constantly. Just the kinda paper for the impending blogger-to-become-op-ed-disaster.

Next step, crucial for product positioning, is to select the right topics, issues that get 400 tweets and 2k likes on Facebook and establish you as the best thing that has happened this side of the Gospels. Here’s a guide.

Write about the Deep State. What? You don’t know what Deep State is? What a loser. Deep State is a state within a state. It lies deep, buried under layers of deception. Only a few of the insightful can see it and are privy to its shenanigans. But do not despair. You don’t have to know what it is. The EFT readers get it when they see the phrase Deep State. Just use your conclusion about Deep State as your unstated premise and screw the rest. The phrase has its own 100-tweets-and-500-FB-Likes rating even if you don’t say much else. Simply put, in Pakistan, if you haven’t had a good crap for days, blame it on the Deep State. No, it’s not the Orwellian Big Brother. It’s very Pakistani and there’s nothing literary about it.

Next, but most important and allied with the Deep-State positioning, is your approach to the Pakistan-damned-need-to-be-defenestrated-army. This is an army, just in case you didn’t know this, which Voltaire predicted about. You don’t have to know who the sucker was and when and where he lived. Just remember the name for devil’s sake. You also don’t need to know his contributions to history, philosophy, prose, poetry etcetera (the Twitterati are not interested). You just need to know what he said about an army with a state rather than the other way round. No, he didn’t say it for Prussia. He said it about the Pakistani military. Now stick to this 101 if you don’t want to spoil your chances with the EFT readership.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 16, 2012 at 9:54am

Here's a Gulf News story on Pak media's role being questioned:

Claims across the Internet suggest that a number of Pakistani journalists, including some very high-profile ones, also received large payoffs from Riaz. As expected, the claims have been rebutted by some of those targeted in the allegations.

Who will watch the watchdog?

There are compelling questions related to media that must be resolved

By Farhan Bokhari, Special to Gulf News
Published: 00:00 June 17, 2012
Gulf News

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Who will watch the watchdog?


A week of high drama is not unknown in Pakistan as the country is often caught in the proverbial ‘eye-of-the-storm’. But the past week has been unusually dramatic even by the standards of Pakistan’s moments of recurring turmoil and continuing uncertainty.

This latest episode began when media reports raised questions over the conduct of a son of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary. Arsalan, Justice Chaudhary’s son, reportedly received large sums of money from Malek Riaz, Pakistan’s best-known realty tycoon.

In the wake of the controversy, the Supreme Court has stepped in to investigate the matter. However, in the meantime, the storm has widened to bring out some very disturbing questions over the conduct of prominent players across Pakistan’s increasingly robust media.

Claims across the Internet suggest that a number of Pakistani journalists, including some very high-profile ones, also received large payoffs from Riaz. As expected, the claims have been rebutted by some of those targeted in the allegations.

Article continues below

However, the matter cannot be taken lightly. In the past decade, Pakistan’s media has emerged as the most visible example of an increasingly open country where democratic values have rapidly taken root. This evolution has armed the Pakistani media with the reputation of being an emerging watchdog.

But the status of watchdog notwithstanding, parts of Pakistan’s media, notably the country’s TV channels, have also acquired the reputation of behaving without any restraint. The latest controversy in Pakistan only deepened when Riaz was shown in an interview with a private TV channel, questioning the conduct of Justice Chaudhary.

More damaging for Pakistan’s emerging private media has indeed been the leakage of video footage on the Internet, which clearly showed exchanges between Riaz and two prominent TV hosts during breaks in that interview, which. in part. could at least be construed as being potentially offensive to the top judiciary. Last Friday, justice Chaudhary presided over a special session, with other Supreme Court judges present on his side, to review the footage and decide the best way forward.

Irrespective of how the judges will proceed from here, there are indeed compelling questions related to the media itself which must be debated and resolved.
While a free media is central to the successful evolution of any democratic society, no entity in a free environment must ever be allowed to carry on its work without some element of independent oversight. Tragically, in Pakistan’s case, it seems that the country’s rapidly evolving free media has flourished without legitimate constraints. Pakistan is haunted today by a question that should have been asked when this evolution began in the first place, which is: Who will watch the watchdog?

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 15, 2012 at 10:51am

Here's a BBC report on the rise of televangelists in Pakistan:

Islamic groups in Pakistan were initially hostile to cable TV because of concerns about "obscene" foreign imports, but religion now dominates the airwaves. A new breed of Islamic TV evangelist has emerged, leading to a confrontation with liberals.

On any day of the week, television in Pakistan is a potent cocktail of soap operas, fiery political debate and, increasingly, pop-Islam.
Farhat Hashmi has been accused of embezzling funds from her television show and fleeing to Canada to avoid prosecution, although she denies any wrongdoing. And Mehar Bukhari, known for her political interviews, sparked outrage by declaring the politician she was speaking to was a heretic.

Another mullah clashed with a Bollywood actress on live television after condemning her behaviour - that clip subsequently became a viral hit.

But the best-known of all the TV evangelists is Dr Amir Liaqat. From a glossy television studio above a parade of run-down shops in Karachi, he had an audience of millions for Alim aur Alam, a live one-hour show that went out five days a week across Pakistan.

The programme allowed Dr Liaqat to play the role of a religious "Agony Uncle", remedying the religious dilemmas of his audience.

In September 2008, Liaqat dedicated an entire episode to exploring the beliefs of the Ahmedis, a Muslim sect which has been declared as "un-Islamic" by much of the orthodoxy. In it, two scholars said that anyone who associated with false prophets was "worthy of murder".

Dr Khalid Yusaf, an Ahmedi Muslim, watched the programme with his family, and says he was shocked that a mainstream channel would broadcast this kind of material.

"They talked about murder as a religious duty. A duty for 'good' Muslims."

Within 24 hours of the broadcast, a prominent member of the Ahmedi community was shot dead in the small town of Mirpur Kass. Twenty-four hours later Khalid Yusaf's father, another Ahmedi community leader, was killed by two masked gunmen.

Liaqat has distanced himself from the shootings. "I have no regrets because it has nothing to do with me," he says. "I'm hurt by what happened and I'm sorry for the families but it has nothing to do with me or anything that was said on my programme."
The "Veena vs the Mullah" incident turned Malik into a symbol of struggle for Pakistani liberals. Mansoor Raza from Citizens for Democracy, a campaign group that has openly supported religious minorities, says Malik's new-found status as a darling of the left is a sign of the times.

"More and more women wearing the niqab, the full face covering now. Many of these are middle-class housewives that watch these religious shows”

"I know housewives who wear the hijab," he says. "They call Veena Malik a hero. She said what we all wanted to say. Our politicians are failing us and so it's left to film stars like Veena Malik to speak out."
Liaqat says these programmes have appeal because they educate. "I want to spread a message of love. Despite all the controversy I am still here and audiences love me because people want to learn about religion. That's why people watch these programmes. People want to learn."

Badar Alam, editor of the Karachi Herald, believes that television could be changing the way Islam is practised in Pakistan - for instance, more women wearing the niqab.

He believes that middle-class housewives who tune into the religious shows are learning cultural practices that are quite alien to Pakistan.

The flux between mainstream Pakistani Islam and a more hardline version of the faith is being fought out on Pakistani TV screens each day.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 18, 2012 at 9:58am

Pakistani televangelist Aamer Liaqat is back on GeoTV. Here's an NPR report on it:

As Pakistan's media has expanded in recent years, there's been a rise in Islamic preachers with popular TV call-in talk shows. And they've had their share of scandal. One famous TV host fled the country after embezzlement allegations. Others are accused of spewing hate speech.

That's the case for Pakistan's most popular televangelist, Aamir Liaquat, who's just been rehired by the country's top TV channel despite accusations that he provoked deadly attacks in 2008.

Liaquat, 41, is once again the face of Pakistan's biggest and richest private TV station, Geo TV. He also appears in commercials for everything from cooking oil to an Islamic bank. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he's been broadcasting live 11 hours a day — while fasting — and drawing record ratings.

"I say peace be with you, from the deepest core of my heart, with all sincerity and respect," he says warmly to viewers.

But the beaming TV personality has not always sounded so benign.

Four years ago, Liaquat did an hourlong special on a religious sect known as the Ahmadis. They consider themselves Muslim. But under a constitutional amendment in Pakistan, they are banned from calling themselves Muslim.
He lost his job at Geo TV over the Ahmadi program and the violence that ensued. But a rival channel scooped him up before long. And this summer, Liaquat returned to Geo TV with fanfare — and an even bigger salary.

Nadeem Paracha, a Pakistani journalist, says the way Liaquat's comeback was advertised was "just sickening."

"How can you bring back a person who's been accused — not only by the Ahmadi community, but by a lot of people? There's so much evidence there," Paracha says. "How can you call the same guy back?"

That's a question for Liaquat's boss, Imran Aslam, the president of Geo TV.

"He is a broadcaster par excellence. But he must know his parameters," Aslam says.

He says he rehired Liaquat on the condition that he sign a new code of ethics.

"We wanted to know whether he had, I wouldn't use the word 'repented,' but certainly [would be] a little more careful," Aslam says.

till, the TV executive acknowledges that bringing Liaquat back could be a gamble.

"Not only the Ahmadis, but there's a large section of the liberal population of Pakistan, which is fearful of what he could unleash. So it's a double-edged sword," Aslam says. "The guy could become a Frankenstein monster — I don't deny that. But I think he's been chastised a bit — and chastened a bit, too."

So Liaquat is back on TV, more popular than ever. For the slain pediatrician's widow, Najm, that's scary proof that intolerance is accepted — even rewarded — in Pakistan's mainstream media.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 24, 2012 at 4:53pm

Here's a Daily Times story of a Pakistan FM station fighting the Taliban:

PESHAWAR: Slowly, Ziarat Bibi recalled the last words she spoke to her son, her pain seeming to fill the dimly lit radio studio.

“He was preparing for his exam. I told him to pick up his books,” she said, as transmitters beamed her grief to listeners across northwest Pakistan. A Taliban bomb killed her son before he took his exam. She has not been able to touch his books since. Bibi is one of many bereaved mothers sharing their stories on a Pashto-language radio show aimed at undercutting support for Taliban in their heartlands along the rugged frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s weak civilian government, a US ally often derided as inept and corrupt, is struggling to defeat the insurgency and largely failing to win hearts and minds.

State-run radio spent years issuing dry updates on the prime minister’s schedule while Taliban broadcast hit lists and fiery recruitment calls from dozens of FM stations, some hidden in the back of a donkey cart. Alarmed at the success of hardline propaganda, veteran Pakistani journalist Imtiaz Gul decided to try something different – a mix of reports and live debates designed to get people thinking critically about militancy.

One of his shows is called The Dawn and the other The Voice of Peace. They are an hour long and run back to back. New transmitters funded by the United States and Japan are about to start beaming them out across the mountains. Recent topics have covered how to respond if al Qaeda members show up on your doorstep, whether polio vaccination campaigns are run by the CIA and if suicide bombs killing Muslims are justified.

Pashtun tribal elders, mullahs, activists, and officials hold debates and listeners are invited to call in. A recent show on whether religious leaders were doing enough to promote peace got more than 80 calls. It wasn’t always like that. When Gul first started the shows in 2009, people were too scared to talk.

The army had just pushed back Taliban leader Fazlullah, nicknamed Mullah Radio for his broadcasts, from the Swat Valley, after he had advanced to within 100km of the capital. Fazlullah used his FM radio to issue calls for holy war, to denounce polio vaccination as a Western plot and to threaten those who dared stand up to him. “Everyone would want to listen to the militants’ broadcasts to make sure his or her name was not on the hit list,” the United Nations noted in a report. But Gul thought the radio could provide a unique opportunity for people living in the shadow of daily violence to tackle subjects ordinarily taboo. He started off providing information about flood relief and gradually expanded the shows to include stories like Bibi’s.

Gul wants more than sympathy. He wants his Pashtun listeners to start thinking critically about their beliefs and traditions after years of being bombarded with pro-Taliban propaganda. “The wave of terrorism forced people into silence,” said Gul. “In this society you are not encouraged to ask questions.” When he recently ran a programme about the ancient Pashtun tradition of giving refuge, the studio’s ancient, beige telephone lit up...\09\25\story_25-9-2012_pg7_19

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 1, 2012 at 10:10am

Here's a Nation report on the launch of Warner Brothers' WB channel in Pakistan:

Lahore (PR) - Turner Broadcasting Systems Asia Pacific, Inc. is to launch a new entertainment channel in Pakistan - WB. Available in homes across Pakistan from today, WB is Turner’s brand new 24-hour, English entertainment channel. This launch bolsters Turner’s commitment to consistently fulfil the entertainment needs of Pakistan viewers. It will serve as the premiere destination for all Hollywood enthusiasts offering the biggest hit movies, hottest action, best drama, funniest series and brightest stars from the world’s most prolific studio, Warner Bros., in a sleek and exciting environment.

WB will be distributed in Pakistan through Homecast Entertainment Private Limited and will be made available to advertisers by TBS Pakistan with the help of their ad sales representatives Strategic Alliances.

The channel is targeted at an upscale urban audience with an appetite for quality programming and 24-hour Hollywood content. WB will bring the best of award winning Hollywood entertainment to TV sets in Pakistan.

WB is Pakistan’s gateway to Hollywood! This premiere destination is meant for all Hollywood aficionados, offering the biggest movies, hottest action, best dramas, funniest series and the brightest stars from the world’s most prolific studio. Showcasing programming licensed from Warner Bros., WB is aimed at a Pakistan audience with a colossal appetite for Hollywood’s best content, around the clock. WB is a 24-hour, English-language entertainment channel from Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc. Now that’s Hollywood!

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 1, 2012 at 11:05am

Here's NewsTribe on CNN affiliate channel in Pakistan:

Karachi: Cable News Network affiliated Urdu news channel Dais will start its transmission soon in Pakistan.

Dais will feature selected CNN programming and news, dubbed in Urdu in addition to its own quality coverage of Pakistan and the diaspora. Dais has its corporate headquarters in Lahore and bureaus in Islamabad and Karachi.

In this regard, Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc.’s CNN International and Pakistan’s Associated Group (AG) have signed a broadcast affiliate agreement for the upcoming Pakistani news channel, Dais.

The agreement provides Dais, which will broadcast in the Urdu language, access to a range of CNN video and newsgathering resources. The agreement also grants CNN reciprocal access to Dais’s news coverage of Pakistan to complement its own English-language reporting from its Islamabad bureau and regional resources. CNN will also provide professional training to Dais’s newsgathering team.

“This broadcast agreement will enable us to augment our high-quality coverage of news and events both in Pakistan and abroad by utilizing newsgathering support from CNN,” said Dais chief executive Fasih Ahmed. “Dais will provide fully contextualized information and analyses. We will present news that matters to our viewers in an in-depth, engaging, and energetic format helping them form well honed opinions. Our objective is to create premium news with style, dignity and grace,” said Ahmed.

“Dais now joins the select ranks of CNN broadcast affiliates who form an extensive and unparalleled global network and with which CNN International enjoys mutually-beneficial, reciprocal broadcasting relationships,” said Ringo Chan, Senior Vice President, CNN Broadcast Services and Affiliate Relations, Asia Pacific. “We look forward to working with Dais to provide CNN programming, training and video as they develop their network.”

Dais is AG’s flagship media project. AG, established in 1965, is one of Pakistan’s premier business houses. AG’s first media enterprise, Newsweek Pakistan, is being published under license from The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company, LLC since 2010.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 21, 2012 at 6:04pm

Here's an excerpt of Al-Arabiya story on Turkish soap airing in Pakistan:

Coincidentally, the talk of the town in Pakistan these days is a flamboyant Turkish soap opera having a theme that revolves around a taboo subject like incest, besides over exposure, and other moral problems associated with the super rich class.

The soap opera 'Ishq e Memn' [meaning forbidden love in local language], dubbed in national language Urdu, was recently-concluded on a private TV channel after spanning over several months. It created much of a stir in a society having a vast majority that upholds Islamic culture and traditions, as it indulged in over exposure of actresses, showing cleavages, thighs and boasting mini-skirts etc. and the editors had to blur these parts to avoid wrath of the fundamentalists.

Such was the dimension of the ripples it created in the whole society that Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to intervene and issue a statement saying that such soap operas were representing neither the Turkish culture nor Islam. This was perhaps for the first time that Mr. Erdogan had taken notice of something about his country on the media of a brother Islamic country, and of course the highest level of condemnation for a play.

Turkish soap opera was also aired, dubbed in Arabic, by MBC - parent group of Al Arabiya news channel, a couple of years back and it attracted quite a big audience that still savors its glamour. MBC is considered pioneer of dubbed Turkish soap operas and has aired many others for Arabic language viewers.

Erdogan’s comments set in motion the authorities in Pakistan. The standing committee of the upper house of parliament [Senate] that deals with information and broadcasting expressed its concerns over the kind of vulgar foreign content being aired offending the feelings of majority of people. The senate committee issued instructions to concerned authorities to take cognizance of the matter and take necessary steps, but the soap opera reached conclusion before any step could be taken.

The condemnation of conservative quarters in Pakistan to this soap opera was understandable, but what amazed people was the protest by the private TV production houses, TV artistes etc. who are accused of promoting vulgarity in the garb of liberalism in society. The private drama producers and artistes primarily demand banning foreign dubbed soap operas during the prime time when the rate of advertisements is the highest, fearing such a practice would destroy the private TV production industry which took birth in the country courtesy the liberal media policy of former military dictator General [retired] Pervez Musharraf over a decade ago.

They feared a doomed future for private TV production industry at the hands of unrestrained foreign soap operas, like the open import of Indian movies devastated Pakistani film industry a decade ago. Their least stressed concern was that foreign soap operas would prove disastrous for Pakistani cultural values.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 22, 2014 at 7:12pm

Here's a Dawn report on the launch of OK! fashion magazine in Pakistan:

The creeping Talibanisation of Pakistan is a phrase that has no meaning here. Against all odds, Pakistan's fashion and celebrity industry continues to flourish.

After the launch of the international publication Hello! Magazine several years ago, it is now OK! Magazine's turn to 'expose' itself to Pakistanis.

The launch took place at the Mohatta Palace. With a fully-stocked buffet of pastries, wasabi sandwiches, smoked salmon, crostinis and chocolate mousse, the early birds at the event got to sample the "tomato tapanede"... And other fancy-sounding unpronounceable food.
OK! Magazine currently has over 50 million readers worldwide. Speaking to, on bringing it to Pakistan, Aamna Haider Isani -- also one of Pakistan's top fashion journalists -- said "It's been a labour of love. And it took several months to put it together. People thought, 'what's the big deal? Just put it together!' But, no...every single page had to be sent to London for approval. They were very particular about the tiniest of things which is great."

"Their philosophy is simple: it has to be about celebrities, it has to be positive, the tone has to be upbeat. We intend to redefine celebrities in Pakistan. More than just people who look nice and dress nice. We want to promote 'real' heroes. People who have achieved something in life."


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