Friday, March 12, 2010

Newsweek Eyes Pakistan Media Market

With the planned September launch of its Pakistan edition, Newsweek magazine is the latest publication to join Pakistan's media revolution, according to MediaBistro.com. 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 Edition

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.

Pakistan's Media Boom

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. Analysts at Standard Charter Bank estimated in 2007 that Pakistan had 30 million people with incomes exceeding $10,000 a year. With television presence in over 16 million households accounting for 68% of the population in 2009, the electronic media have also helped inform and empower many rural Pakistanis, including women.



With an increase of 38% over 2008, the television advertising revenue for 2009 in Pakistan was Rs 16.4 billion ((US $200m), accounting for about half of the total ad market during the year. The TV ad revenue is continuing to rise as a percentage of total ad revenue, mostly at the expense of the print media ads. The biggest spenders in 2009 were the telecom companies with Rs 8 billion, followed closely by fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with Rs. 7 billion, as reported by Pakistan's GeoTV channel. FMCG products, as opposed to consumer durables such as home appliances, are generally low cost and replaced or fully used up over a short period of days, weeks, or months, and within one year. Other important sectors contributing to ad revenue are financial services and real estate, but these sectors have experienced significant slowdown with the current economic slump.

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.



FM Stations

More than 100 private FM radio stations have been licensed in the last ten years. Most of them are known for providing basic entertainment - easy listening, popular music, cooking recipes, etc. But some FM stations are also providing useful information through talk shows by experts on legal, psychological and health matters; a community radio station in Lakki Marwat near FATA has a show on modern farming techniques like drip irrigation. In Karachi, at a discussion on organ transplant and organ donation, a caller who identified herself as a doctor, pointed out that those who denounce the practice as un-Islamic forget that technically even blood is defined as an organ.

On a national level, television is the dominant communication medium in Pakistan. But radio listenership in Pakistan remains strong in certain areas of the country. This is particularly the case in rural areas and less economically developed provinces, according to audiencescapes.org.



Specifically, in the rural areas of the Baluchistan province, 46 percent of respondents said they listen to the radio at least weekly, rivaling rural television viewership at 47 percent. While in rural areas of the other three provinces surveyed (the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Punjab, and Sind), radio listenership is strong but is still lower than TV viewership.

In regions such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA, not surveyed), where the Taliban has held control over certain areas for a significant period of time, radio transmissions are often people’s main source of entertainment and news, mainly because religious extremists disrupt television broadcasts through frequent sabotage. Mainstream newspapers are also not available; many villages are difficult to access and selling publications can be risky for the seller. In addition, within the FATA region and much of the NWFP, television sets are simply too expensive and access to electricity is spotty.

Print Media

Although broadcast and cable media are the primary sources of information for most Pakistanis, the press has a long history in the country and a contentious relationship with successive governments. The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) boasts more than 262 member publications in print,. Overall estimates indicate that there are about 1,000 daily newspapers, most of which are in English or Urdu. A BBC survey in 2008 found that 42% of men and only 13% of women read newspapers regularly. Pakistan's press is among the most outspoken in South Asia, although its influence is limited by a literacy level of only 56%.



Internet

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.

Book Publishing

The media boom in Pakistan has also brought attention to a new crop of Pakistani authors 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.

Summary

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, politics, education, health, 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 learn, talk, dress and behave, and emulate the outspoken media personalities, various experts, actors, preachers, singers, sportsmen, celebrities and fashion models. The growth in Pakistan's media market has resulted in more useful information, more advertising, more competition and more choice for the public.

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.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Poor Governance in Pakistan

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

The Real News From Pakistan

Pakistan's Economic Stagnation

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance

Newsweek Pakistan Edition Launch

Brief History of Media in Pakistan

The Power of TV: Cable TV and Women's Status in India

Eleven Days in Karachi

Pakistan Country Profile By BBC

Online Political Activism in Pakistan

Pakistan Media Cyberletter

Asian Television Advertising Coalition

Impact of Cable TV on Pakistani Women

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47 Comments:

Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent excerpt from a piece by Dawn columnist Irfan Husain about Pakistan's middle class influencing nation's politics:

While external debt increased from $39bn in 1999 to $50bn in 2009, poverty levels have fallen by over 10 per cent since 2001. Indeed, there are now around 30 million Pakistanis who are considered to be in the middle class with an average income of $10,000 annually, while some 17 million are now bracketed with the upper and upper-middle classes.

Even though this does not approach China’s and India’s spectacular progress in this period, it does represent a solid advance. If one factors in the political turmoil the country has gone through, together with its ongoing insurgencies in the tribal areas and Balochistan, Pakistan’s progress has been impressive by any standard.

How do these numbers translate into day-to-day life in Pakistan? To examine the social transformation the country is undergoing, Jason Burke uses the Suzuki Mehran as a yardstick to measure change. In his ‘Letter from Karachi’ published in the current issue of Prospect, the Guardian reporter writes:

“In Pakistan, the hierarchy on the roads reflects that of society. If you are poor, you use the overcrowded buses or a bicycle. Small shopkeepers, rural teachers and better-off farmers are likely to have a $1,500 Chinese or Japanese motorbike…. Then come the Mehran drivers. A rank above them, in air-conditioned Toyota Corolla saloons, are the small businessmen, smaller landlords, more senior army officers and bureaucrats. Finally, there are the luxury four-wheel drives of ‘feudal’ landlords, big businessmen, expats, drug dealers, generals, ministers and elite bureaucrats. The latter may be superior in status, power and wealth, but it is the Mehrans which, by dint of numbers, dominate the roads.”

This growing affluence has already caused a major power shift, with the urban population now having a bigger say after years of being ruled by feudal landowners. As urbanisation gathers pace, Pakistan’s traditional power elite will increasingly come from the cities, and not from the rural hinterland. This will have a profound impact not just on politics, but on society as a whole. As Burke observes in his Prospect article:

“Politically, the Bhutto dynasty’s Pakistan People’s Party, mostly based in rural constituencies and led by feudal landowners, will lose out to the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif with its industrial, commercial, urban constituency. Culturally, the traditional, folksy, tolerant practices in rural areas will decline in favour of more modernised, politicised Islamic strands and identities. And as power and influence shifts away from rural elites once co-opted by colonialism, the few elements of British influence to have survived will fade faster.”

Often, perceptive foreigners spot social trends that escape us because we are too close to them to see the changes going on around us. For instance, Burke identifies the shift away from English, and sees ‘Mehran man’ as urban, middle class and educated outside the elite English-medium system. He sees Muslims being under attack from the West, and genuinely believes that the 9/11 attacks were a part of a CIA/Zionist plot. Actually, my experience is that many highly educated and sophisticated people share this theory.

Burke continues his dissection of the rising Pakistani middle class: “Mehran man is deeply proud of his country. A new identification with the ummah, or the global community of Muslims, paradoxically reinforces rather than degrades his nationalism. For him, Pakistan was founded as an Islamic state, not a state for South Asian Muslims. Mehran man is an ‘Islamo-nationalist’. His country possesses a nuclear bomb….”

May 4, 2010 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is more urbanized with a larger middle class than India as percent of population. In 2007, Standard Chartered Bank analysts and SBP estimated there were 30 to 35 million Pakistanis earning more than $10,000 a year. Of these, about 17 million are in the upper and upper middle class, according to a recent report.

As to India's much hyped middle class, a new report by Nancy Birdsall of Center for Global Development says it is a myth. She has proposed a new definition of the middle class for developing countries in a forthcoming World Bank publication, Equity in a Globalizing World. Birdsall defines the middle class in the developing world to include people with an income above $10 day, but excluding the top 5% of that country. By this definition, India even urban India alone has no middle class; everyone at over $10 a day is in the top 5% of the country.

This is a combination both of the depth of India's poverty and its inequality. China had no middle class in 1990, but by 2005, had a small urban middle class (3% of the population). South Africa (7%), Russia (30%) and Brazil (19%) all had sizable middle classes in 2005.

May 8, 2010 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a piece by Bloomberg's Hindol Sengupta, an honest Indian:

....Add this bookstore to the list of India-Pakistan rivalry. A bookstore so big that it is actually called a bank. The book store to beat all bookstores in the subcontinent, I have found books I have never seen anywhere in India at the three-storeyed Saeed Book Bank in leafy Islamabad. The collection is diverse, unique and with a special focus on foreign policy and subcontinental politics (I wonder why?), this bookstore is far more satisfying than any of the magazine-laden monstrosities I seem to keep trotting into in India. ...

Yes, that's right. The meat. There always, always seems to be meat in every meal, everywhere in Pakistan. Every where you go, everyone you know is eating meat. From India, with its profusion of vegetarian food, it seems like a glimpse of the other world. The bazaars of Lahore are full of meat of every type and form and shape and size and in Karachi, I have eaten some of the tastiest rolls ever. For a Bengali committed to his non-vegetarianism, this is paradise regained. Also, the quality of meat always seems better, fresher, fatter, more succulent, more seductive, and somehow more tantalizingly carnal in Pakistan. ....

Let me tell you that there is no better leather footwear than in Pakistan. I bought a pair of blue calf leather belt-ons from Karachi two years ago and I wear them almost everyday and not a dent or scratch! Not even the slightest tear. They are by far the best footwear I have ever bought and certainly the most comfortable. Indian leather is absolutely no match for the sheer quality and handcraftsmanship of Pakistani leather wear.

Yes. Yes, you read right. The roads. I used to live in Mumbai and now I live in Delhi and, yes, I think good roads are a great, mammoth, gargantuan luxury! Face it, when did you last see a good road in India? Like a really smooth road. Drivable, wide, nicely built and long, yawning, stretching so far that you want zip on till eternity and loosen the gears and let the car fly. A road without squeeze or bump or gaping holes that pop up like blood-dripping kitchen knives in Ramsay Brothers films. When did you last see such roads? Pakistan is full of such roads. Driving on the motorway between Islamabad and Lahore, I thought of the Indian politician who ruled a notorious —, one could almost say viciously — potholed state and spoke of turning the roads so smooth that they would resemble the cheeks of Hema Malini. They remained as dented as the face of Frankenstein's monster. And here, in Pakistan, I was travelling on roads that — well, how can one now avoid this? — were as smooth as Hema Malini's cheeks! Pakistani roads are broad and smooth and almost entirely, magically, pot hole free. How do they do it; this country that is ostensibly so far behind in economic growth compared to India? But they do and one of my most delightful experiences in Pakistan has been travelling on its fabulous roads. No wonder the country is littered with SUVs — Pakistan has the roads for such cars! Even in tiny Bajaur in the North West frontier province, hard hit by the Taliban, and a little more than a frontier post, the roads were smoother than many I know in India. Even Bajaur has a higher road density than India! If there is one thing we should learn from the Pakistanis, it is how to build roads. And oh, another thing, no one throws beer bottles or trash on the highways and motorways. ...

May 19, 2010 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

In a recently published book "Superfreakonomics", the authors cite two American economists' finding that cable TV in 2700 households empowered Indian women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept daughter in school. Here are some more highlight from the book about India:

1. If women could choose their birthplace, India might not a wise choice to be born.

2. In spite of recent economic success and euphoria about India, the people of India remain excruciatingly poor.

3. Literacy is low, corruption is high.

4. Only half the households have electricity.

5. Only one in 4 Indian homes has a toilet.

6. 40% of families with girls want to have more children, but families with boys do not want a baby girl.

7. It's especially unlucky to be born female, baby boy is like a 401 K retirement plan, baby girl requires a dowry fund.

8. Smile train Chennai did cleft repair surgery. A man was asked how many children he had. He said had 1, a boy. It turned out that he had 5 daughters which he did not mention.

9. Indian midwives paid $2.50 to kill girl with cleft deformity

10. Girls are highly undervalued, there are 35 million fewer females than males, presumed dead, killed by midwife or parent or starved to death. Unltrasound are used mainly to find and destroy female fetuses. Ultrasound and abortion are available even in the smallest villages with no electricity or clean water

11. If not aborted, baby girls face inequality and cruelty at every turn,

12. 61% of Indian men say wife beating is justified, 54% women agree, especially when dinner is burned or they leave home without husband's permission.

13. Unwanted pregnancies, STDs, HIV infections happen when 15% o the condoms fail. Indian council of med research found that 60% of Indian men's genitalia are too small by international standards.

14. Indian laws to protect women are widely ignored. The government has tried monetary rewards to keep baby girls and supported microfinance for women. NGOs programs, smaller condoms, other projects have had limited success.

15. People had little interest in State TV due to poor reception or boring programs. But cable television has helped women, as 150 million people between 2001-2006 got cable
TV which gave exposure to world.

16. American economists found that the effect of TV in 2700 households empowered women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept daughter in school.

May 23, 2010 at 11:27 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a piece by Beena Sarwar on secularism debate in Pakistan:

First of all, the very fact that this discussion is taking place in a mainstream newspaper -- even though it is in English, which limits its outreach -- is something to appreciate.

Secondly, the discussion is taking place at a time when Pakistan, indeed the world, finds itself polarised as never before. Never before have we seen such extremes jostling for ascendency at the same time. In Pakistan, the extremes are most visible in the attire people, particularly women, wear out on the streets (from jeans to burqas), the gatherings and functions they attend (from religious gatherings to musical evenings, fashion shows and wild underground parties), what they are reading (religious literature to Communist readings that would have landed them in jail in the Zia years), the television and films they are watching (religious shows to uncensored films on DVD, and Indian films at mainstream cinemas), and how they express their views (through writings, art, music, seminars and peaceful candlelight demonstrations to violent protests and suicide bombings).

The entire gamut is there, from the extreme left to the extreme right, from wild permissiveness to ultra-conservatism -- the latter apparently on the rise not just in Pakistan but around the world. In fact, this ascendency of the Right is so strong that the demons of religion-based militancy unleashed during the Zia years can take down even those who adhere to the late General's world views: a Zaid Hamid can lose even as Gen Zia wins, as the UK-based researcher Anas Abbas interestingly posited it. The charismatic right-wing cult leader, who had sucked into his fold youth icons like the fashion designer Maria B and rock singer Ali Azmat, had to go into hiding not because progressive Pakistanis prevailed against his virulent pan-Islamist, anti-India world view, but because he offended his own.

This is a time when the 'blasphemy laws' as they are applied in Pakistan are causing a worldwide uproar because of the injustice they perpetuate; ......

We're talking about secularism at a time when supposedly educated people, including parliamentarians and politicians are 'warning' the government not to tamper with these blasphemy laws, or else face the 'consequences'. It is ironic that such a warning was issued recently by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q)....
We can now have this debate in the pages of this English-language newspaper, 20 years after Gen. Zia's departure, because those who hold these violent beliefs consider us to be irrelevant. So is the situation hopeless for people like us? No, because these discussions are not taking place in a vacuum. There is a lot of questioning going on in Pakistan at various levels about religion and its role in the state. These discussions are taking place in many languages and at many fora. Thousands if not millions of activists, political workers and ordinary citizens in Pakistan share the belief that religion should be a private matter, which should not be imposed violently.

The rise of the Internet -- according to one estimate, as many as 18 million Pakistanis have Internet access -- means that people have other alternatives to share information that the dominant news media sidelines. Blogs or facebook pages like SecularPakistan or SayNoToTheStateReligion may not have millions of followers but their readership is growing. Amidst the cacophony of jihadist views that regularly find space on radio and television networks are also voices that courageously question the role religion has been given in Pakistan. The trickle may not become a flood anytime soon, but neither is it about to dry up and disappear.

December 14, 2010 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's The Express Tribune piece on "changing face of retail" driven by the growth of middle class and FMCG sector in Pakistan:

The retail sector in Pakistan, long dominated by thousands of small corner shops, is about to go through a dramatic facelift as consumers become more discerning and demand greater choice.

The advent of hypermarkets and wholesalers such as Carrefour, Metro Cash & Carry and Makro has given Pakistanis a taste for a consumer choice driven shopping experience which is likely to deepen the market for consumer goods throughout the country and alleviate what has hitherto been the central problem in developing that sector: logistics.

A fragmented market

According to the Small & Medium Enterprise Development Authority, there are over 125,000 retail outlets all across Pakistan. Approximately 94 per cent of these are miniscule corner shops and small retail outlets in cities and villages. Perhaps most critically, there is no nationwide chain of retail or even wholesale outlets.

This poses a significant challenge for most businesses looking to enter the food and agribusiness sector. Despite the fact that Pakistanis spend close to $36 billion a year on food and other retail shopping, businesses find it very difficult to reach the mass market of Pakistani consumers simply because it is not a single marketplace but tens of thousands of little shops.
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What it all means

The existence of these chains means that Pakistanis are about to be inundated with outlets that seek to create a better shopping experience and offer consumers more choice. The larger these chains become, the more those choices they offer will be produced locally.

If food production companies can have lower distribution costs and easier access to a wider swathe of the consumer market, they are more likely to expand existing lines of business and introduce newer markets. In other words, food producers will go from selling raw commodities to selling higher value goods which will not only expand consumer choice but will also increase the productivity of the Pakistani workforce and thus their incomes.

January 7, 2011 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a report on Pakistan's retail sector:

The ongoing shift in population from rural to urban areas has underpinned the expansion of the retail sector. Strong real GDP growth until fiscal year 2006/07 (July-June) provided the foundation for years of double-digit growth in net retail sales in US dollar terms. However, net retail sales contracted by 1.2% in 2008. Sales then grew by only 5.7%, to US$75bn, in 2009, as the inflationary surge of 2008, which reduced spending power, abated only moderately. In local-currency terms retail sales growth in 2009 is estimated at 22.7%, owing to depreciation in the value of the Pakistan rupee against the US dollar. A gradual shift towards more formal retail facilities will facilitate the expansion of sales in 2012-14, but this process will be slow and confined to urban areas. (In 2010-11 retail sales expansion will be subdued, as overall private consumption growth slows sharply owing to the catastrophic floods that struck Pakistan in August-September 2010. Electronic retailing is almost non­existent in Pakistan because of the low levels of Internet penetration and credit-card use in the country.

Consumer finance accounted for 4.2% of the total stock of credit in the country in June 2010, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP, the central bank). Credit for purchases of consumer durables was down by 25% year on year..... Because of their limited financial resources, most retailers sell on a cash-only basis. This is gradually changing, and credit-card use is likely to become an increasingly important element of personal finance in the long term. However, in the short to medium term credit-card use will be constrained by the poor economic climate: outstanding credit-card loans were down by 25% year on year in June 2010. Large, centralised shops have not been popular in Pakistan, as low levels of car ownership mean that people prefer "corner shops" near their homes. More importantly, frequent and often prolonged power failures reduce the advantages of refrigeration, leading to a preference for fresh goods bought for immediate consumption from neighbourhood retailers. Online retail sales are negligible, owing to the country's extremely low levels of Internet penetration and credit-card ownership and the absence of Internet merchant accounts to facilitate online credit-card transactions.

The retail market is highly fragmented and underdeveloped. There are over 125,000 retail outlets across the country, according to the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority, but around 95% of these are tiny corner shops. The few supermarkets that exist are concentrated in Karachi and Lahore. USC is the largest supermarket chain by far, with 5,850 outlets throughout the country in 2009, according to Planet Retail, an international industry consultancy. The other major chains are Whitbread (with 17 outlets in 2009), GNC (with six outlets), Metro (five outlets) and Carrefour (one outlet). However, even USC's market share is virtually insignificant in terms of retailing as a whole, according to Planet Retail, accounting for only 1.2% of total grocery spending in the country. The vast majority of retailers in Pakistan are small family-run shops, and this will remain the case throughout the forecast period (2010-14).

January 20, 2011 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on the launch of web-based Maati TV in Pakistan:

LAHORE: Music Art and Technology Informatrix (Maati Tv) will mainly serve as a platform for the youth to share their stories of social and development sectors.

The web television will work on the principle of non-corporate parallel media. A project of Interactive Resource Centre (IRC) in collaboration with the South Asian Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) and the Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS), Maati TV will initially have its correspondents in 20 districts and different educational institutions across the country.

In Punjab, Maati Tv will have its correspondents in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur and Faisalabad. In Sindh the correspondents will be located in Karachi, Hyderabad, Dadu and Juhi. Balochistan will have its representatives in Quetta and Jaffarabad while in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa it will have correspondents in Mardan, Peshawar and Kohat. The web television will also have representation in Gilgit and Hunza.

The correspondents from these districts will make documentaries on social and developmental issues which will be uploaded on the website. The head office of the web television will be in Karachi.

Executive Director of the IRC Muhammad Waseem told The Express Tribune that the organisation has trained the correspondents in documentary making, “We have worked in different educational institutions on peace building and students will also make documentaries on different social and developmental subjects. We have provided cameras and editing units to our correspondents and their documentaries will mainly only be three-minute long.” The youth does not have a platform to speak about social problems and this television will provide them with a platform to get involved in the social building process, he added.

Programme Manager IRC Nasir Sohail said, “Maati TV will be like Democracy Now, a non-corporate media in the US, we have also added the option of blogging in it. People can write their blogs or articles and we will generate debates on our documentaries or our blogs”.

When asked about data management of the site, he said, “We will have multi servers. We have this thing in mind and have sorted this out. Honorarium would be given to the correspondents for making each documentary”.

The television will also incorporate cell phone videos. “There will be a section in which we will have mobile phone videos. People can make documentaries on any social issue and we will upload them,” said Waseem.

Flood relief activities

Maati TV will focus on the rehabilitation work in flood-hit areas through a special segment. “The locals in the flood hit areas will serve as watchdogs. They will make documentaries on the relief activities and we will upload them on our website,” said Waseem. By 2012, 70 percent population of Pakistan is going to be under 30 and that is our target audience. When asked about the financial feasibility of the project he said, “We intend to have google ads and meet our expenses from there. Another option is that we will focus on corporate social responsibility and generate funds for it. If things go as per plan this project should become self sustaining in a year.”

February 17, 2011 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on rising consumer spending and growing FMCG sector in Pakistan:

...“The rural push is aimed at the boisterous youth in these areas, who have bountiful cash and resources to increase purchases,” Shazia Syed, vice president for customer development at Unilever Pakistan Ltd., said in an interview. “Rural growth is more than double that of national sales.”
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Nestle Pakistan Ltd., which is spending 300 million Swiss francs ($330 million) to double dairy output in four years, boosted sales 29 percent to 33 billion rupees ($377 million) in the six months through June.

“We have been focusing on rural areas very strongly,” Ian Donald, managing director of Nestle’s Pakistan unit, said in an interview in Lahore. “Our observation is that Pakistan’s rural economy is doing better than urban areas.”

The parent, based in Vevey, Switzerland, aims to get 45 percent of revenue from emerging markets by 2020.
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Haji Mirbar, who grows cotton on a 5-acre farm with his four brothers, said his family’s income grew fivefold in the year through June, allowing him to buy branded products. He uses Unilever’s Lifebuoy for his open-air baths under a hand pump, instead of the handmade soap he used before.
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Sales for the Pakistan unit of Unilever rose 15 percent to 24.8 billion rupees in the first half. Colgate-Palmolive Pakistan Ltd.’s sales increased 29 percent in the six months through June to 7.6 billion rupees, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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Unilever is pushing beauty products in the countryside through a program called “Guddi Baji,” an Urdu phrase that literally means “doll sister.” It employs “beauty specialists who understand rural women,” providing them with vans filled with samples and equipment, Syed said. Women in villages are also employed as sales representatives, because “rural is the growth engine” for Unilever in Pakistan, she said.

While the bulk of spending for rural families goes to food, about 20 percent “is spent on looking beautiful and buying expensive clothes,” Syed said.

Colgate-Palmolive, the world’s largest toothpaste maker, aims to address a “huge gap” in sales outside Pakistan’s cities by more than tripling the number of villages where its products, such as Palmolive soap, are sold, from the current 5,000, said Syed Wasif Ali, rural operations manager at the local unit.
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Unilever plans to increase the number of villages where its products are sold to almost half of the total 34,000 within three years. Its merchandise, including Dove shampoo, Surf detergent and Brooke Bond Supreme tea, is available in about 11,000 villages now.
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Pakistan, Asia’s third-largest wheat grower, in 2008 increased wheat prices by more than 50 percent as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sought to boost production of the staple.

“The injection of purchasing power in the rural sector has been unprecedented,” said Sherani, who added that local prices for rice and sugarcane have also risen.
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Increasing consumption in rural areas is forecast to drive economic growth in the South Asian country of 177 million people, according to government estimates.

Higher crop prices boosted farmers’ incomes in Pakistan by 342 billion rupees in the 12 months through June, according to a government economic survey. That was higher than the gain of 329 billion rupees in the preceding eight years.
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Telenor Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. is also expanding in Pakistan’s rural areas, which already contribute 60 percent of sales, said Anjum Nida Rahman, corporate communications director for the local unit of the Nordic region’s largest phone company.

October 4, 2011 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Media report says cell phone service company Zong in a deal with Manchester United to train Pakistan's young footballers:

KARACHI: Some 32 young footballers between the ages of 10 and 18 from all over Pakistan can look forward to training by Manchester United players and coaches, including Sir Alex Ferguson, thanks to an arrangement between the world-famous professional football club and a mobile telecom company here.

“Seeing the popularity of football among youngsters in Pakistan, Zong has entered into a three-year contract with Manchester United. It is hoped that this one of a kind partnership will lead to prosperity, growth and triumph for the sport here,” said the company’s Director Advertising and Promotions Rizwan Akhter at a press conference called to announce the union at a local hotel here on Tuesday.

Unveiling the benefits of the contract, Rizwan Akhter said: “From next year, we will hold country-wide trials to pick 32 best footballers in the 10 to 18 age group for training by the club’s players and coaches.”

The partnership gives Pakistan rights to exclusive news and footage of the English clubs activities in order to bring the 150,000 Manchester United fans here closer to the club and their favourite players.

“The move will go a long way in promoting football in Pakistan and inspiring more young players to take up the sport here,” explained the company’s representative.

“It will also allow us here to look more closely at the club’s way of working and their formats in order to take out and follow the positive things from there to help improve the infrastructure here,” he added.

“Though we are focusing on the grassroots level for now, it is hoped that along with the inspiration gained from learning more about the famous English club with such an interesting history will come improvement in football grounds and academies here,” pointed out the gentleman.

Meanwhile, to a question about the possibility of Manchester United players or coaches visiting Pakistan, the organisers said that the present security situation prevents that from happening until things improved here.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/10/26/manchester-uniteds-best-to-aid-pakistani-footballers.html

October 26, 2011 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about Pakistan's telecom sector figures in 2010-11:

Telecom sector has a potential to attract billions dollars of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as total revenues of telecom operators in the country has been swelled to an all time high Rs 362 billion in 2011 at the end of financial year.

The telecom sector has expanded its services rapidly in many parts of the country over the period of past one decade. It is still in the evolving stage to deploy its services in many un-served small cities and villages and companies are plan to increase their operation areas in maximum locations to get handsome number of customers of their different services.

According to a report of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) the telecom sector contributed more than Rs 116.9 billion to the national exchequer in the outgoing financial year during 2010-11.

Accordingly, the GST/FED collections from the sector spike by 20% to reach Rs 52.6 billion in the same year whereas Rs 7.2 billion activation tax collected.

According to this report PTA deposits reached to Rs12 billion whereas other taxes reached to Rs 45.2 billion.

Cellular income which constitutes major chunk of the telecom revenues was boosted by 11% to Rs. 262 billion from Rs. 236 billion. A modest increase in cellular industry’s ARPU was witnessed from US$ 2.41 in the previous fiscal year to US$ 2.45.

The revenues of local loop operators recorded Rs58.32 billion. The wireless operators earned Rs4.84 billion and LDI sector revenues reached to Rs 29.95 billion. The value added sector made Rs 7.02 billion revenues during fiscal year 2011..

The number of mobile subscribers at the end of fiscal year 2011 stood at 108.9 million, showing growth rate of 10%, double than that of the last year. Mobile penetration rose to 65.4% from 60.4% in the previous year.

In this report it has been said that during the past three years, PTA has collected around Rs. 40 billion against APC for USF. In its drive to curb grey traffic, the Authority saved revenue of US$ 26 million.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in its report “Vision 2020” estimated that telecom investments in Pakistan would be landed more than US$ 2.4 billion by 2020. The mobile subscribers’ base is expected to be widened to 161 million, hence approximately 89% of the total population by 2020.


http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=188473

January 23, 2012 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on launch of local version of an international glossy magazine in Pakistan:

Pakistan is better known for bombs than bombshells, militant compounds than opulent estates. A few enterprising Pakistanis hope to alter that perception with the launch of a local version of the well-known celebrity magazine Hello!.

They plan to profile Pakistan’s rich and famous: the dashing cricket players, voluptuous Bollywood stars and powerful politicians who dominate conversation in the country’s ritziest private clubs and lowliest tea stalls. They also hope to discover musicians, fashion designers and other new talents who have yet to become household names.

“The side of Pakistan that is projected time and time again is negative,” said Zahraa Saifullah, the CEO of Hello! Pakistan. “There is a glamorous side of Pakistan, and we want to tap into that.”
--------------
Pakistan already has a series of local publications that chronicle the lives of the wellheeled in major cities like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, especially as they hop between lavish parties. But the producers of Hello! Pakistan hope the magazine’s international brand and greater depth will attract followers.

Hello! was launched in 1988 by the publisher of Spain’s Hola! magazine and is now published in 150 countries. It’s well-known for its extensive coverage of Britain’s royal family and once paid $14 million in a joint deal with People magazine for exclusive pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s newborn twins.

The market for English-language publications in Pakistan is fairly small. Most monthly and weekly magazines sell no more than 3,000 copies, said Khan, the consulting editor. But they hope to tap into the large Pakistani expatriate markets in the United Kingdom and the Middle East as well.

Hello! Pakistan will be published once a month and will cost about $5.50, twice as much as what many poor Pakistanis earn in a day. The first issue will be published in mid-April and will focus on the Pakistani fashion scene.

Saifullah, who grew up watching her mother and grandmother read Hello! as she hopped between London and Karachi, said it took her two years to convince the magazine to publish a local version in Pakistan....


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/say-hello-to-pakistans-glamorous-side-as-famous-celebrity-magazine-launches-in-the-country/2012/03/24/gIQAtkbIYS_story.html

March 24, 2012 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

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.


http://www.pri.org/stories/business/global-development/journalism-flourishes-in-pakistan-despite-obvious-dangers-9138.html

April 2, 2012 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story of a Pakistani female journalist visiting Minnesota to work with an American TV station:

Having grown up in one of the oldest cities on the Indian subcontinent, you might not expect English words to come so easily to Gharidah Farooqi. But they do. Especially when describing her experience at a recent Wild hockey game.

(PHOTO: Gharidah Farooqi is second from the left. Also pictured left to right are 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS producers Tim Burns, Molly Andersen, and Amanda Theisen)

When talking about a last-minute Erik Christensen goal that tied the game, or about the Miko Koivu goal that won the game in overtime, Farooqi uses words like "amazing" and "really exciting."

Strong words given what she's seen in her career as a journalist.

Her first field assignment was in 2005, covering an earthquake that killed 79,000 in Pakistan's Kashmir region. More recently, she reported on the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs .

Farooqi is spending time at 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM as part of the U.S./Pakistan Professional Partnership Program. Created in 2009, the U.S. State Department describes it as part of a "U.S. strategy to bring peace and stability in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region."

Farooqi is part of the fourth group of Pakistani journalists to visit the United States since the program began, and the second to visit 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM. One group of American journalists has also traveled to Pakistan. The goal, says the State Department, is "to develop cross cultural relationships and develop professional skills that will postively impact people's lives and will result in stronger ties between the two nations."

Farooqi hopes Minnesotans will ask her about her country, rather than rely on the images they see on TV.

"Pakistan is so much more than O.B.L. (Osama bin Laden)," said Farooqi.

She's also learning the United States is more than what she's seen on CNN and the Fox News Channel.

"Americans are great people to work with," she said, describing the people she's met during her time here as "friendly" and "professional." After a week here, she found many similarities with the newsrooms where she's worked. But, she did find one difference that really struck a chord with her.

"I see a lot of women working in the newsroom," she said. "We don't have that in my country."

Farooqi said very few women had reported major stories in Pakistan when she was sent to cover the 2005 earthquake. At the time, she was working for Pakistan TV, a state-run organization she says held a virtual monopoly on the news business up until a decade ago.

She says the rise of private television stations, first broadcasting from outside of Pakistan, and now from within, is slowly changing the landscape for women in journalism. She sees it happening at Geo News, where she now works as an anchor and reporter.

But looking at the diversity of the staff in the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM newsroom, led by News Director Lindsay Radford, she sees more room for improvement back home.

"We need to learn this in my country," she said.

Farooqi's work on Geo News is broadcast all over Pakistan. It can also be seen via cable and satellite in the United Arab Emirates, parts of Europe, Canada, and here in the United States.

And, if you wondered why English words come so easily to her, (as I did), credit her early schooling. In her hometown of Multan, she attended a mission school where she was taught by British nuns.


http://kaaltv.com/article/stories/S2565822.shtml?cat=10151

April 3, 2012 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on Pak Army setting up its own radio & tv network:

In order to expand media outreach throughout Pakistan, the army is planning to set-up a countrywide radio network parallel to Radio Pakistan and PTV to create what it calls ‘social harmonisation’ and to propagate ‘state vision’ in a ‘vibrant manner.’

After the successful execution of FM radio projects in militancy-hit areas of Swat, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan, a nationwide network of FM radios with a proposed name ‘Apna Pakistan’ is on the cards.

The network will run under the banner of 96 International Radio Network, with the military pulling the strings from behind the scene. Though most of the employees working with the network are civilians, a serving army officer will be the chief executive officer (CEO).

Taliban militants had set up their own network after having destroyed the state media network in Malakand. When the army moved in, it uprooted the militant network and established FM96 Radio Swat which has now been renamed FM96 Radio Pakhtoonkhwa.

Headed by a serving colonel of Pakistan Army, the network has continued to extend its outreach further and another station with coverage in Waziristan and Fata was later established which is now working as FM96 Pakhtoonzar. Yet another one was established for Balochistan named FM96 Vash Noori.

Equipped with state-of-the-art digital technology, the first of its kind in Pakistan, these radio networks are running ‘infotainment’ programmes – mainly local and Indian music – to counter ‘anti-state’ propaganda, officials said.

When the first army sponsored FM radio was set up in Swat, the responsibility of broadcasting was shared by three state organisations. A studio facility was provided by the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), satellite uplink was made available by Pakistan Television (PTV), installation of transmitting stations with recurring expenditures were borne by the army, whereas the ministry of information and broadcasting remained a linchpin.

Set up on February 24, 2009, the network initially used the studios of PBC/Radio Pakistan and the satellite facilities of PTV, but it now has a separate set-up in Islamabad and goes under the name of ‘Nine Six Media House’ where the latest studio facilities are available. Programmes, mostly of an interactive nature, in different dialects of Pashto and Balochi are being broadcast from the newly established office.
-----------
The PBC refusal to accommodate did not deter sponsors and now a draft agreement is ready to be signed between Shalimar Recording and Broadcasting Company Limited (SRBC), itself a subsidiary of PTV. The 96 International Radio Network aims to register itself as SRBC’s subsidiary.

However, both organisations will continue to be governed by their own rules and regulations.

ISPR, the media wing of the Pakistan Army, when approached for details of the proposed project, declined to comment. However, the CEO of 96 International Radio Network, during a candid interaction with The Express Tribune, said the network is being planned with the concept of ’socio-cultural broadcast’ to bring social harmony to a society that has been radicalised. He said it is yet to be decided if the network will be a subsidiary of the PBC, SRBC or PTV.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/364901/apna-pakistan-military-set-to-expand-media-outreach-across-the-country/

April 14, 2012 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Huffington Post article on journalist murders in India, Pakistan & Brazil:

Brazil, Pakistan, and India--three nations with high numbers of unsolved journalist murders--failed an important test last month in fighting the scourge of impunity. Delegates from the three countries took the lead in raising objections to a U.N. plan that would strengthen international efforts to combat deadly, anti-press violence.

Meeting in Paris, delegates of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for Development of Communication were expected to endorse the U.N. Inter-Agency Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. But a debate that was scheduled for two hours raged for nearly two days, ending without the 39-state council's endorsement.

The plan, which had been in the works for more than a year, is still proceeding through other U.N. channels, although implementation and funding could face continued difficulties if these nations persist in raising objections. Perhaps more important: Brazil, Pakistan, and India--each ranked among the world's worst on the Committee to Protect Journalists' 2012 Impunity Index--missed an opportunity to send a strong message that they do not condone anti-press violence.
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In a written responses to CPJ queries, a senior Pakistani official said that while his country "welcomes attempts at the international level to find a workable solution," the U.N. plan "has to be tackled in a comprehensive manner with the cooperation of maximum number of member states at appropriate for[ums]." While acknowledging that Pakistani journalists had been killed, the official said it would be "unfair to say outrightly that Pakistan has a high rate of unresolved cases." He questioned whether journalist deaths were work-related, and attributed Pakistan's fatality rate to his country's war on terror.

Pressure within nations may be a key to keeping the plan on track. In Pakistan, CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Umar Cheema took his government to task, while Brazilian news media put their government on the defensive with extensive coverage of the story. In an interview last week with CPJ, a senior Brazilian official framed his delegation's objections as procedural, and said the country would not stand in the way of the plan's further progress. "We are 95 percent in favor of all the articles here, but some of them we think should follow a different procedure," the official said. "We are very committed to protecting journalists, although we recognize we have many problems we need to be addressed."

Despite some dissenting nations' calls for "transparency" in UNESCO's information sources, the statistics themselves are clear. More than 560 journalists have been murdered with impunity worldwide over the past two decades, CPJ research shows. Already this year, eight journalists have been murdered across the globe. Pakistan, Brazil and India all have among the highest rates of unsolved journalist murders per capita in the world, CPJ's Impunity Index shows.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/committee-to-protect-journalists/in-journalist-murders-bra_b_1429797.html

April 16, 2012 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on the first issue of Pakistan edition of Hello magazine:

The first issue of the new Pakistan edition of celebrity and lifestyle magazine Hello! has sold out in three of the country's major cities, the publisher and distributor said Tuesday.

Hello! launched in Pakistan promising a "socially responsible" approach celebrating the best of the country's culture, fashion and glamour.

Publisher Zahraa Saifullah said more than 20,000 copies of the monthly, which features a cover interview with Hollywood star Sean Penn, had been sold across Pakistan since Sunday and hailed the success as a vindication of the strategy.

"Our first issue is not a tabloid but a comprehensive catalogue of the nation's seriously underrepresented bright side; its appeal, grace, beauty and glamour," she told AFP.

"It's because Hello! Pakistan offers substance that it has received such a phenomenal response."

She said the magazine, cover price 395 rupees ($4.40), sold out immediately when it hit newsstands in Karachi and Islamabad on Sunday and the eastern city of Lahore on Monday.

Jamil Hussain, owner of Karachi-based Liberty Books, the largest international distributor in Pakistan, said he had to restock shops in the southern port city -- the country's most populous -- at the weekend. "In my 25 years of experience in this business I have honestly never seen such a beautifully produced magazine. Its no surprise it sold out like hot cakes," Hussain said.

"I personally had to drive on a Sunday to several book shops in Karachi to redeliver stock."

Farid Viyani, owner of Agha's, one of the largest supermarkets in Karachi, said hundreds of copies were sold just in a day.

"I have never seen anything like this. People keep flocking in to buy Hello! our demand is overwhelming, we've given the largest counter to Hello! Pakistan," Viyani said, adding that the new magazine was easily outselling local rival Good Times, known as GT magazine.

Saifullah had a strong response to those who questioned launching a magazine like Hello! in a country so troubled by Islamist violence.

"Hello! Pakistan is not the first lifestyle and entertainment publication this side of the Himalayas and it won't be the last," she said.

"All the local glossies that profile celebrity and lifestyle in the country -- their editors and subjects, as far as we know, have not been picked up by nefarious radicals as of yet."


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-gives-new-magazine-a-rousing-Hello/articleshow/12704514.cms

April 17, 2012 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's journalist-blogger Tayyib Afridi of FATA on radio broadcasting in tribal areas:

A media development organization has engaged five partner radio stations from FATA and KP to train them on professional broadcasting. The partner radio stations have been provided with professional equipment in order to improve working capacity and trainings to strengthen their production skills for the benefit of the local population. These radios are the only government voice in the tribal areas to inform listeners about government development activities. That is why Asadullah and his other colleagues from the same partner radio stations have also been trained in PSA (public service announcement) production.

Mr. Fazal Rahman, station manager of the radio Miranshah and who also attended that training, regarded this training very fruitful. He has also produced PSAs about local government and has solicited applications from students to attend a free skill development program. Fazal, who remained my colleague during our four years broadcasting in FATA, told me that as soon as he broadcast that announcement, he received many calls from listeners inquiring about this opportunity. He was surprised to see how fruitful this activity was. He never experienced this kind of broadcasting which is very short and concise, and he was happy to see that he has engaged destitute local people in constructive activity.

The impoverished tribal regions have no other option to learn about any opportunity provided by the government or non-government organizations except these radios. Twice, I missed cadet college tests during my school period because the only source of news was newspapers and the admission news failed to reach me in real time. Cadet Colleges are special colleges established by government with subsidized fee and high standard and they admit those students who cleared their tests. They every year announced admission with limited seats for general students who can make their way into college. But even today, students and people of the FATA don’t get news in real time.

So, the broadcasting of these five radio stations working in Northwestern Pakistan Tribal areas has attracted large audiences, especially students and women who are more interested in education and health programs. This practice has converted lot of opportunities either from government or non-government into public announcements to reach to larger audiences of FATA. These radios also requested local government to give them permission to start commercial broadcasting in tribal region.

Though, the government has started number of projects to provide basic facilities to public such as health, education, but those were going unnoticed because, there was no mechanism in place to disseminate information to large audiences. The local government of FATA usually issued information to newspapers and televisions and both the mediums lack access to large audiences in FATA, mainly because of illiteracy and power shortage. Therefore, the information failed to reach concerned people, most of the time, which have been living far away in the mountains. For instance, I have heard commercials given by local government to Peshawar FM channels despite knowing that it is not being heard fully in the FATA. Today, most of the scholarships are advertised in the newspapers meant for fata students while knowing that newspaper circulation is few hundred in the whole of FATA...


http://tayyebafridi.blogspot.com/2012/03/radio-miranshah-connects-gop-with.html

April 20, 2012 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Huffington Post piece on dangers faced by journalists in Pakistan:

In the context of defense and security cooperation, Britain could offer Pakistan assistance in reversing impunity in the killings of journalists. These murders have been attributed to government officials, criminal gangs, wealthy business owners, and militant groups. Assistance to local police investigators working on these unsolved cases--coupled with a commitment to increase the forensic capabilities of local and national police--would go far in protecting journalists. Increased law enforcement capacity is also in the interest of the broader public.

As for those journalists covering dangerous assignments, Britain could offer two forms of assistance that would have immediate impact:

Getting helmets, body armor, and other protective gear into the hands of at-risk journalists would be an immediate and cost-effective way of protecting lives. In the past, there have been problems getting this gear through Pakistani customs, an issue that could be resolved by the talks in London.
By helping bear the cost of security training to individual journalists--and preparing Pakistani trainers to pass on that knowledge to the larger press corps--British aid could go far in saving lives. Journalist organizations and media companies have taken steps to improve training, but more assistance is needed.

And here is one other proposal: In cooperation with international aid donors and partnering with a Pakistani academic institution of appropriate stature, Britain could help launch a graduate school of journalism in Pakistan. Many newsroom managers say they are hiring journalism students who are eager but not fully prepared. The problem is partly caused by the explosion of demand; Pakistani media has been going through a protracted period of growth for quite a while. But many of Pakistan's media and communications schools don't seem to have the budgets or the programs, in English, Urdu, or Pashto, to meet the industry's demand for newsroom-ready reporters. And if that graduate school of journalism should also host a journalists' safety training program, who would find fault with that?


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/committee-to-protect-journalists/uk-should-help-pakistan-t_b_1501244.html

May 8, 2012 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on the growth of mass media in Pakistan:

..We now have 90 TV channels besides 28 foreign channels vying for Pakistani audience. Similarly, there are at least 106 licensed FM radio station and a countless illegal FM stations mostly operated by various madrassas.

Traditionally, Pakistani media was effusively owned or dictated by establishment mechanism or party in power until 2001. There was only one state-owned TV channel, PTV with some semi-government and privately owned entertainment content like STN and NTM. Radio market was fully monopolized by Radio Pakistan. Pervez Musharaf’s military regime, under immense internal and international pressure opened up electronic media market for local and foreign investors in 2001.

In 2002, government established an electronic media regulatory body called PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority) with a mandate of issuing licenses to private firms for operating in Pakistani media market. Furthermore, authority is also responsible for regulating electronic media content distribution and monitoring; hence it can ban or put fine on any channel or company for not following terms and criteria given by the government [1]. According to PEMRA’s 2009 report, it has issued licenses to 83 channels in the private sector. In the same year, about 60 channels were fully functional in private sector including 22 news channels, 35 in general entertainment category and 3 of the religious genre. Now in 2010, total number of channels has reached 90. While foreign channels providing entertainment and news are 28 in number, there are four educational channels run by Virtual University and five by state-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV). PEMRA’s report also reveals that the electronic media industry is providing bread and butter to 150000 people directly and seven million people indirectly in Pakistan [2] though at some extent these figures are quite dubious. It is estimated that total investment in electronic media has exceeded $2.5 billion and 17 percent of population relies on electronic media for first hand information [3]. The investment in media industry is growing at the rate of 07 percent per annum [4].
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Meanwhile, the TV viewership has reached to 86 million in 2009 which was only 63 million in 2004[8]. Interestingly, in the last 5 years, viewership in villages, small and medium size cities, increased tremendously and has reached to 68 million while metropolitan and large cities have a viewership of total 18 million. According to some other sources, total viewership of television has reached to 115 million [9]. Pakistani media has grown at the rate of 132 percent per year in last one decade with 150 advertising agencies and 74 production companies [10].
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According to these figures total exposure of print media including newspapers and magazines (72%) is still less than 89% exposure of the television which has become a dominant medium in last one decade. All three most circulated newspapers and top two most circulated magazines are owned by the same media moguls who are influential in the TV market. Print media is the oldest media and historically most influential media which has publications in 11 languages and daily circulation of around 4 million, despite a tremendous diversity in cultures and ethnicity in the society of Pakistan [12]...


http://www.viewpointonline.net/media-boom-90-channels-106-fm-stations-in-10-years.html

May 8, 2012 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

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.


tribune.com.pk/story/385779/make-it-big-on-express-freely-tribune/

June 5, 2012 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

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.
....


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18729683

July 15, 2012 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece on Pak televangelists as published in The Platform:

A plethora of delusional televangelists can be found across Pakistan’s media landscape. A cursory flick through the nation’s channels during the holy month of Ramadan reveals all manner of self-styled religious scholars giving the feeble minded advice on issues ranging from preferential trouser length to whether it’s alright to work alongside women. Foremost amongst these for quite some years now has remained mini-fatwa specialist, Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain.

In Pakistan last summer, an aunty of mine would practically perform wudhu, ablutions, and don a headscarf prior to tuning in to his show – Alim Online – every night, where Dr Sahib could be found adorned in sparkly sherwanis, imparting knowledge to the masses. It wouldn’t take long for the eminent scholar to be wailing, shaking, with hands pointed towards the heavens, making supplications for the population. Millions nationwide, transfixed by his seeming piety would wipe tears from their eyes in unison. Laughing at the spectacle, I was regularly tutted at for failing to show respect – for close to God this man assuredly was. ---
In 2006, Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission declared his degree, master’s, and doctorate unrecognised. It materialised that his certificates were purchased from a degree-mill in Spain. Not a big problem, you might suggest, considering the Chief Minister of Baluchistan and close ally of the President once remarked, ‘A degree is a degree, whether real or fake’. Indeed the incumbent president Asif Ali Zardari isn’t in possession of one either, after being caught with his pants down on the issue several times – his naming of an imaginary London college was a particular highlight.

Returning to our esteemed scholar, the more sensible among us saw right through his facade from day one. On billboards everywhere could be found his airbrushed face, often starward gazing; the sight would make you want to hurl something at him. Or simply hurl.

Formerly part of the Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and once enjoying the position of Religious Affairs Minister in the cabinet of Shaukat Aziz, he was booted in 2010 out of his party for fanning religious hatred. Intolerance and fantastical conspiracy theories happen to be some of Liaquat’s specialties, aided by nifty oration, pretentious Urdu, and a melodious voice. Famously, in late 2008, he and two guests on his popular show declared members of the smaller Ahmadi sect of Islam, Wajib-ul-Qatl, deserving of death. Within two days of its airing, two prominent Ahmadi community leaders were shot dead and many more were forced to flee their homes. When later grilled about the incident, Liaquat point blank refused to accept any responsibility. Is it any wonder minority groups are doing all they can today to flee the country?

---

With Pakistanis nationwide continuing to lap up his sermons and melodrama, it wasn’t until a video leak on 14 August 2010 that many thought his career might finally be over. The nine-minute video gave viewers an insight into his holiness’ off-air antics during commercial breaks. Sitting comfortably in his studio with his trademark hair, a side partition with enough tarka, oil, for you to fry Ramadan samosas in, Dr Sahib receives a phone call from a desperate sounding woman asking about the permissibility of committing suicide. Such is his concern for this woman that seconds into a commercial break he bursts out laughing. Next, he expresses his appreciation for a certain ‘marvelous’ Bollywood rape scene, asking two bemused guests repeatedly whether or not they’d seen the film Ghalib. Effing and blinding throughout, he also sporadically breaks in to Bollywood number..


http://www.the-platform.org.uk/2012/08/15/pakistan%E2%80%99s-undying-love-for-televangelists/

August 15, 2012 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times on Pak televangelist Aamer Liaquat Husain "the sinner-repenter":

Mr. Hussain, 41, is a broadcasting sensation in Pakistan. His marathon transmissions during the recent holy month of Ramadan — 11 hours a day, for 30 days straight — offered viewers a kaleidoscopic mix of prayer, preaching, game shows and cookery, and won record ratings for his channel, Geo Entertainment.

“This is not just a religious show; we want to entertain people through Islam,” Mr. Hussain said during a backstage interview, serving up a chicken dish he had prepared on the show. “And the people love it.”

Yet Mr. Hussain is also a deeply contentious figure, accused of using his television pulpit to promote hate speech and crackpot conspiracy theories. He once derided a video showing Taliban fighters flogging a young woman as an “international conspiracy.” He supported calls to kill the author Salman Rushdie.

Most controversially, in 2008 he hosted a show in which Muslim clerics declared that members of the Ahmadi community, a vulnerable religious minority, were “deserving of death.” Forty-eight hours later, two Ahmadi leaders, one of them an American citizen, had been shot dead in Punjab and Sindh Provinces.

Many media critics held Mr. Hussain partly responsible, and the show so appalled American diplomats that they urged the State Department to sever a lucrative contract with Geo, which they accused of “specifically targeting” Ahmadis, according to a November 2008 cable published by WikiLeaks.

Now, Mr. Hussain casts himself as a repentant sinner. In his first Ramadan broadcast, he declared that Ahmadis had an “equal right to freedom” and issued a broad apology for “anything I had said or done.” In interviews, prompted by his own management, he portrays himself as a torchbearer for progressive values.

“Islam is a religion of harmony, love and peace,” he said, as he waited to have his makeup refreshed. “But tolerance is the main thing.”

IN some ways, Mr. Hussain is emblematic of the cable television revolution that has shaped public discourse in Pakistan over the past decade. He was the face of Geo when the upstart, Urdu-language station began broadcasting from a five-star hotel in Karachi in 2002. Then he went political, winning a parliamentary seat in elections late that year. The station gave him a religious chat show, Aalim Online, which brought together Sunni and Shiite clerics. The show received a broad welcome in a society troubled by sectarian tensions; it also brought Mr. Hussain to the attention of the military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who was reportedly touched by its content. In 2005, General Musharraf appointed him junior minister for religious affairs, a post he held for two years.

Mr. Hussain’s success, with his manic energy and quick-fire smile, is rooted in his folksy broadcasting style, described as charming by fans and oily by critics. By his own admission, he has little formal religious training, apart from a mail-order doctorate in Islamic studies he obtained from an online Spanish university in order to qualify for election in 2002.

“I have the experience of thousands of clerics; in my mind there are thousands of answers,” he said.

That pious image was dented in 2011 when embarrassing outtakes from his show, leaked on YouTube, showed him swearing like a sailor during the breaks and making crude jokes with chuckling clerics. “It was my lighter side,” Mr. Hussain said. (Previously, he had claimed the tapes were doctored.)

But that episode did little to hurt his appeal to the middle-class Pakistanis who form his core audience. “Aamir Liaquat is a warm, honest and soft-natured person,” said Shahida Rao, a veiled Karachi resident, as she entered a recent broadcast, accompanied by her 6-year-old grandson. “We like him a lot.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/world/asia/a-star-televangelist-in-pakistan-divides-then-repents.html

September 1, 2012 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

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...


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\09\25\story_25-9-2012_pg7_19

September 24, 2012 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on Samsung's marketing push in Pakistan:

Samsung, a global leader in consumer electronics, is aiming to secure a larger share of the Pakistani market by the end of this year. Its action plan includes advertising heavily on all platforms available, with a special focus on brand shops, providing brand awareness, and introducing a range of products under one roof.

“In the televisions market, Samsung in Pakistan currently enjoys a 38% share, which we are aiming to increase up to 50% by the end of 2013,” Amir Shahzad, Samsung Pakistan’s Retail and Channel Management head (Consumer Electronics) recently told The Express Tribune.

Though Samsung offers a wide range of products, including smartphones, personal computers, printers, cameras, home appliances, medical devices, semiconductors and LED solutions, the company’s Pakistani management is focusing specifically on the television segment by introducing the latest plasma TVs, LED TVs, home theatres and other home appliances.

The management says the company is benefitting from the rise of the Pakistani middle class. The global economic downturn – which forced many other electronic brands like Sony, Sharp and JVC to minimise operations in Pakistan – is another factor that has provided Samsung the opportunity to step in and capture the large domestic market.

Samsung operates through 550 dealerships in Pakistan, spread over the length and breadth of the country, through which a complete range of products is available to consumers. More recently, the rising trend of multinational retail outlets in large cities has forced the management to introduce brand shops in the country which showcase the latest Samsung products. The 30 “strategically-located” brand shops offer genuine Samsung warranties for 3D Smart TVs, LED and LCD TVs, monitors, plasma display panels, IT products, cameras and home appliances.

“Our latest appliances are relatively higher-end, but we are also targeting the rising middle class. These retail outlets are providing us a wonderful platform to promote our brand,” Shahzad said.

The staff in each shop guides consumers in buying the right products according to their demands and budgets, Shahzad explained. “Such shops also provide technical assistance and after-sales guarantee and maintenance facilities to the customer,” he added.

“The Samsung Brand Shop is a revolutionary business model for the Samsung retail brand, from where all retailers can learn and emulate building a consistent branding approach,” Shahzad claimed.

However, like other multinationals, Samsung is reluctant to invest directly in Pakistan. At this stage, it is not even considering starting a proper assembling or manufacturing plant for its products in the country. It does assemble a handful of its products in country, but that is a tiny operation compared to its global operations, and Shahzad says the sole purpose of this business is to circumvent import duties and enable Samsung to compete in the local market at better rates.

That leaves Samsung’s sole focus on heavy advertisement in order to register itself in the minds of the masses. “We want every Pakistani to use Samsung products, for which we are using every possible advertising channel, whether electronic and print media, road shows, brand shops, social media, promotion schemes, online advertisements,” Shahzad said.

“We believe that advertising heavily is a strategy which will help us achieve our targets and make Samsung the country leader in all the different products offered by the company,” he added.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/514943/samsung-looks-to-capture-pakistan-through-heavy-advertisement/

March 3, 2013 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg piece on Urdu dubbed Turkish soap operas popular in Pakistan:

As Nihal prepared to marry Behlul, not everything was going to plan. Wielding a gun, the bride’s stepmother declared undying love for the groom and said she couldn’t live without him.
Illicit liaisons were at the heart of “Ishq-e-Memnu” or “Forbidden Love,” the Turkish series that was the biggest hit on Pakistani television last winter. At its peak, the show on the Urdu 1 channel was watched by a third of the country’s cable and satellite audience. Still, the racy plotlines proved too much for conservative politicians, and a parliamentary committee found the “onslaught of foreign dramas” so harmful to the nation’s culture it suggested a ban.
Undaunted, Pakistani networks have ordered more shows from studios such as Ay Yapim Productions, the Istanbul-based maker of “Forbidden Love,” while advertisers are paying 15 percent more for commercials. As viewers seek relief from 24-hour news reports of sectarian violence and a war with Taliban insurgents, the success of foreign programs has also sparked a revival in locally made dramas almost 30 years after an army-sponsored censorship drive that sought to create a stricter Islamic state.
“A major shift is taking place in Pakistan’s entertainment scene,” Salman Danish, chief executive officer at Lahore-based MediaLogic Pakistan Ltd., which assigns channel audience ratings, said. “The intense competition is forcing production houses to come up with creative ideas and bold topics. But the biggest surprise is that society is accepting and enjoying this freedom.”
Women’s rights, domestic violence and gay couples have featured in dramas broadcast by Hum TV, Geo TV, ARY Digital and other channels. Shows have dissected a mullah’s relationship with his wife and daughters, and featured a poor girl struggling to survive in an elite school.
“Some social taboos are slowly breaking. But this freedom is also creating tension between conservative and liberal mindsets,” Samina Ahmed, an actress and producer who’s playing roles unthinkable earlier in her four-decade career, said Feb. 14 in Lahore. “The success of these dramas shows that a large number of Pakistanis consume entertainment in a manner no different than that of any other society.”
Ahmed’s more recent characters have included a mother of call girls in the 2011 Hum serial “Akhri Barish,” or “Last Rain,” and a grandmother who runs away from her family to get married.
For many of Pakistan’s 196 million people, the soap operas are an escape from the news networks’ diet of violence and political intrigue. While Pakistan has been fighting Taliban guerrillas since 2004, sectarian groups targeting the Shiite minority have stepped up bombings.
-----------


Anila Shaikh, 43, and her teenage daughter Mariam watched each of the 165 episodes of “Forbidden Love” at home in Rawalpindi, just outside the capital, Islamabad.
They were so taken by the show that Shaikh promised her daughter a bridal dress to match the one Nihal picked for her wedding, nuptials that never happened after the spurned and brokenhearted stepmother Bihter shot herself dead.
“I don’t really care who will object to that strapless wedding gown in my family,” Shaikh said at her home in a middle-class neighborhood last month. “I want to see my daughter as beautiful as Nihal looked that day.”


http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-06/forbidden-love-wins-pakistani-hearts-as-tv-tackles-social-taboos.html

March 8, 2013 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on Pak election campaign on the airwaves:

RAWALPINDI: As Taliban bombs curtail campaign rallies, Pakistan’s political parties are ploughing millions of dollars into TV and print adverts to sway voters ahead of next week’s historic polls.

Competition is fierce but it’s a cash market and those with the biggest bucks get the most air time ahead of the historic May 11 polls, set to mark a key democratic transition, say television executives on condition of anonymity.

Bursting with colour, promising to fix the nation’s myriad ills, bust corruption and bring prosperity to voters, the “paid content” ads are broadcast day and night accompanied by the upbeat, nationalist jingle of campaign songs.

Unlike Internet access, which is still limited, more than 60 per cent of the 180 million population have access to TV, according to the Pakistan Advertisers Society.

For medium-sized channels, an average minute of advertising costs $460-500 during 6pm to midnight prime time or $250-300 earlier in the day, according to one television insider speaking on condition of anonymity.

There are around 80 channels in Pakistan, although the market is dominated by little more than a dozen with rolling 24-seven news coverage.

“On average a television channel airs up to five minutes of political ads an hour,” said the television insider.

The outgoing PPP gives prominence to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, showing footage of her 2007 assassination and anointing her son Bilawal – still too young to contest the vote – as the country’s future.

The main opposition and frontrunner PML-N lionises its leader Nawaz Sharif as a statesman and a developer, the man who knows how to fix the economy, the man beloved by a sea of flag-waving crowds.

Ads for cricket star Imran Khan – looking to make a breakthrough at the May 11 polls – offer voters a “new Pakistan” with his PTI party symbol – a cricket bat – swiping away the corruption and jettisoning the country into the future.

With Taliban threats against the main outgoing parties, Khan and Sharif are the only party leaders to address traditional public rallies in person.

Ad men consider the election a two-horse race in which the PPP – rudderless without Bhutto and her son too young to run for parliament – has deliberately taken a backseat, consigned to a stint in opposition.

“It’s PTI and PML-N who are the highest spenders,” said Bilal Agha, general manager for Dawn News television.

He said the Pakistan Broadcasters Association raised ad prices by 25 per cent and made political advertisements cash only. But the PPP is not doling out big money....


http://dawn.com/2013/05/03/pakistan-parties-channel-millions-into-ads/

May 3, 2013 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Taan, Pakistani version of Glee:

Gay romance, Islamic extremism and a soundtrack of classic love songs make for Pakistan's taboo-breaking answer to the hugely successful US television series Glee.
Like its smash hit forerunner, Taan follows the lives and loves of a group of young people who regularly burst into song. But this time they attend a music academy in Lahore, instead of an American high school.
Taan - which is a musical note in Urdu - tackles subjects considered off limits in Pakistan's deeply conservative Muslim society, with plotlines including love affairs between two men and between a Taliban extremist and a beautiful Christian girl.

The plan is for the 26-episode series to air in September or October, and while producer Nabeel Sarwar insisted the program was not a "political pulpit", he is determined to take on the tough issues.

"Nobody wants to have controversy for the sake of controversy, nobody wants to have an assignment to violence, nobody wants to push a button that would result in a disaster for anyone," he said.
"But the truth has to come out somewhere. Where are we going to put a line in the sand and say, 'Look, this is what we are'?"
Taking a public stand to defend liberal values like this is rare in Pakistan, where forces of religious conservatism have risen steadily in recent years.
Risque scenes in foreign films are routinely cut by the authorities and the team behind Taan are acutely aware that they must tread carefully with their challenging material.
In one scene the two gay lovers dance and sing in a small room but never embrace - their relationship is suggested rather than overtly shown. The moment is interrupted when a radical Islamist character bursts in.
Director Samar Raza said representing the lives of gay characters was difficult in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.
"Let's say in a certain scene, there are two boys talking to each other, they are not allowed to show their physical attachment to each other," he said.
"So I bring a third character who says: 'God designed Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve'."
It is not only the sensibilities of the censors the producers must navigate.
While 70 per cent of Pakistan's population is under 35, a huge and potentially lucrative audience for advertisers, it is the head of the household who decides what families watch on TV, explains Sarwar.
"The head of the household during the day is the matriarch and the head of the household at night is the patriarch - they control access to TV," he said.
"You have to find programming that allows the matriarch and the patriarch to join in and participate, but there has to be room for the younger audience."
In a bid to appeal to older viewers the makers of Taan have licensed around 100 classic Pakistani songs, some by legendary artists such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and have reworked them to suit modern tastes, as Glee does.
"We try to find music that resonates with the older generation which control the access to the TV but we contemporise that music so that the younger audience does not feel left out," Sarwar said.
The show hopes that by taking on difficult issues in a light-hearted way it will both reflect the changing nature of Pakistani society and attract a young audience currently hooked on imported Turkish soap operas.
Local dramas struggle to compete with the likes of Manahil and Khalil and Ishq-e-Mamnu (Forbidden Love) - Turkish serials starring Westernised characters with fair skin and dubbed into Urdu.
Turkish soaps are widely watched across the Muslim world, but the popularity of Ishq-e-Mamnu has prompted a lively debate about the "Turkish invasion" of the small screen in Pakistan, with local production companies complaining that they do not have the resources to rival them....



Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/pakistans-glee-tackles-taboos-of-gay-love-radicals-20130529-2naqy.html

May 28, 2013 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan to launch Science TV channel, reports Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Science Club (PSC) has launched beta version of Pakistan’s first science, technology, innovation and educational television, Techtv.pk, which will be fully functional by August 14.
Pakistan PSC President Abdul Rauf told APP that with the launch of this channel, people would be able to access significant amounts of information with reference to any topic in a short time through different programmes.
He said today television has become an important part of people’s life as a source of information, entertainment, a great tool for learning and education, and communications.
Many different programme genres have been used to address diverse audiences for a variety of formal and non-formal learning purposes with scientifically measured results, he said.
Abdul Rauf said the channel would air educational programmes in all subjects, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and zoology, offering an excellent opportunity for young people to learn.
“In remote villages, it will help spread education to willing students through distance learning. Educational television will educate masses on hygiene, literacy, childcare and farming methods or on any topic related to day to day happenings,” he said.
PSC President said Techtv.pk would cover all events from Pakistan related to science and technology and educational activities.
It will also offer free online courses of web application development, DIY (do it yourself) projects, project management and other science and technology topics.
He said Techtv.pk also has an entertainment category with science fiction movies, cartoons and science entertainment programmes.
The channel will cover science and technology educational activities in addition to popularising the subjects through disseminating the relevant information and latest progress to students and common people.
Rauf said this television channel can prove to be very useful, easy to access at anytime from anywhere and users can access a significant amount of information with reference to any topic in a short time regardless of geographic barriers, allowing them to consult different points of view as well as hands-on experience through different DIY (do it yourself) projects.
The channel will use interactive and innovative programmes for this purpose that cover topics of science, chemistry, physics, education, technology, DIY projects, e-learning, documentaries, news, interviews, events, experiments and entertainment.
“The main objective of this web TV is to promote scientific culture and the youth’s interest in science, technology and innovations. The channel would also popularise science for laymen and students, seeking to cultivate the spirit of scientific inquiry and the love of learning in its audience,” said Abdul Rauf.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C08%5C07%5Cstory_7-8-2013_pg11_4

August 6, 2013 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Idol show launched by GeoTV.

One of the most popular talent shows in the world has come to Pakistan. The Geo Entertainment Network officially launched ‘Pakistan Idol’ on Wednesday.

The globally celebrated singing talent show has attracted 460 million viewers worldwide since it was launched in 2003.

Speaking to reporters at the launching ceremony, Imran Aslam, the president of the Geo TV Network, said Pakistan had a history of producing talented musicians across genres. The Geo Network’s endeavour to bring forth talented musicians is a step towards keeping that cherished tradition alive.

“The Idol will be a platform for people who sing in private, in the bathroom or in small family gatherings. We will bring them together and provide them with the opportunity to showcase their hidden talent,” he said. “From among them, the people will choose one voice that will reign in our hearts.”

The auditions for Pakistan Idol will start in Islamabad from Thursday (today) and the judges (who have not been named yet) will travel to various other cities to spot talent, including Quetta and Peshawar.

Asif Raza Mir, the managing director of Geo Entertainment, said the network was aware that there were security problems in Quetta and Peshawar, but the two cities were equally important.

“So we will provide our contestants, judges and crewmembers with security,” he added.

The eligibility age for the participants is between 15 and 30 years old.

The reason for this, Asif explained, was to encourage youngsters in the first-ever Pakistani Idol.

“We have a number of plans for the future. We will hopefully come up with Child Idol and another show for people aged between 30 and 60 years.”

About the possible inducements in store, Asif said the canvas for a Pakistani singer was not restricted to within the borders as many had craved a niche for themselves in the Indian entertainment industry.

“When the show was first launched in the UK, the prizes that were offered were not the same as they are today; things happened gradually. But we will certainly provide the winner with the opportunity to sing for the Pakistani film industry which is growing with each passing day.”

The sponsors also spoke on the occasion. ‘Idols’, co-owned by Fremantle Media and 19 Entertainment, is one of the most successful entertainment formats in the world.

It was first aired in the UK as Pop Idol in 2001 and immediately became a worldwide phenomenon with local variations in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America and South America airing 199 series across 46 territories and attracting upwards of a staggering 6.5 billion votes worldwide.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-202867-Are-you-ready-to-become-the-first-Pakistan-Idol

September 19, 2013 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Film revival? Waar is #Pakistan's first big-budget action film. It's just one of 23 films being released this year.

http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/asia/pakistans-first-big-budget-action-film

October 17, 2013 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

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 Dawn.com, 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."


http://www.dawn.com/news/1094860/ok-magazine-launches-in-pakistan

March 22, 2014 at 7:10 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story about the heyday of Lollywood:

Sadar Iqbal once worked 18 hours a day producing hand drawn posters for Pakistan’s booming film industry.

“At that time I would not have been able to talk to you,” he said sitting as his artist’s desk in his small studio in Lahore, “I was too busy.

Now Mr. Iqbal, 68, who is Pakistan’s last remaining hand-drawn film poster artist, has plenty of time to chat.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore had a booming film industry. Nicknamed “Lollywood”, the city produced hundreds of films a year and the road where Mr. Iqbal’s small studio sits was lined with more than 400 artist studios all churning out hand drawn posters for Pakistani-made films, says Mr. Iqbal.

The area is known as Royal Park and buttresses onto Abbott Road, a short stretch that used be home to 20 cinemas. Today, there are six.

After nearly 30 years of neglect thanks to repressive government policies and creeping Islamic fundamentalism in parts of the country, the art form has all but died. Mr. Iqbal now makes a living doing commissioned paintings from his studio, surrounded by the film posters of a nearly-forgotten era.

The neighboring studios in Royal Park have been replaced by rows of small printing shops.

Mr. Iqbal started working aged 17, in what was then his father’s studio. He says he would to come there every day after school, and learn the art form from his father. Mr. Iqbal uses pencil and watercolors, and when Lollywood was booming, he’d produce at least four posters a film.

It’s a subtle technique, he explains, “I am the crowd puller of the film. When someone sees the poster of the film, they want to come and see the film.”

Most of his posters are laden with visual metaphors: the film’s villain appears in monochrome next to the colored image of the beautiful heroine. A rose tangled around the film’s title weeps blood, symbolizing the pain of love.

Last year, Mr. Iqbal’s talents were called on once again. The directors of the Pakistani-made film, “Zinda Bhaag”, asked him to draw the poster for the movie.

The film is set in Lahore and co-director Meenu Gaur describes it as a stylistic tribute to the Lollywood films of the 1970s. It premiered in September and was Pakistan’s first entry for best foreign language film at the Oscars for 50 years.

“Zinda Bhaag” is part of a nascent revival in the domestic film industry, which has been partly supported by a recent boom of Western-style multiplex cinemas across the country. In the past seven years the number of screens has surged from just 20 to 104, according to distributors and cinema owners.

“People started talking about a revival in Pakistani cinema with the release of ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ (In the name of God),” said Ms. Gaur the co-director, referring to the 2007 film by Pakistani director Shoaib Mansoor. The film received rave reviews in Pakistan and went on to gross $10 million worldwide. “But then it was a hope,” Ms. Gaur said.

Now, she says, the revival is actually happening. In 2013, seven Pakistani-made films were released, and there are currently 25 in production. But most film projects are funded through generous donations from altruistic backers and grants, rather than being driven by market forces. “Zinda Bhaag” received funding from Let’s Talk Men, a film initiative supported by various United Nations agencies.

The artist Mr. Iqbal isn’t very hopefully that a renaissance in Pakistani cinema will rekindle his art form though. He says the new multiplexes are just about money and have no appreciation of art.

“There is no aesthetic investor,” he said, referring to modern movie theaters. “The tragedy is that the investors have just brought property and built cinemas..


http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/03/24/pakistans-poster-boy/

March 24, 2014 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's Wall Street Journal on Geo-Jang Group Media Mogul vs Military:

Media mogul Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has played an outsized role in shaping Pakistan's politics in recent years. Now, his empire is struggling for survival after colliding with the country's most powerful institution: the military establishment.

The clash was sparked by the shooting last month of Hamid Mir, the star journalist of Mr. Rahman's Geo TV channel. Geo reporters alleged on broadcasts that the military's main spy agency was behind the attack. The military angrily denied the claim, and is now pushing to shut the network.

On Tuesday, Pakistan's media regulator will begin hearings on whether to close the channel.

The controversy is reversing fragile gains made by increasingly assertive Pakistani media over the past decade, analysts and media professionals say.

"Media has become a power center in Pakistan," said Absar Alam, an anchor at Aaj News, a competing news channel. "That has triggered alarm among traditional power players who think that they should have the exclusive right to shape opinion."

Central to the drama is Dubai-based Mr. Rahman, who owns Pakistan's biggest-selling newspaper, the Urdu-language Jang, in addition to Geo, the leading TV news channel.

According to employees, Mr. Rahman is intimately involved with editorial decisions at both outlets, which have pushed for the prosecution of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, campaigned for peace with archenemy India, and highlighted the abduction of suspected militants by security forces. Geo was also instrumental in bringing to an end Mr. Musharraf's regime in 2008 with heavy coverage of an opposition movement led by lawyers that made a hero out of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The political sway of his media empire has alarmed some Pakistanis, including rival media organizations, the military and some politicians.

"If one person has the power to set the political agenda, that is frightening," said Moeed Pirzada,an anchor at the competing Express News, which has echoed military criticism of Geo. "He is running a monopoly."

The boldness of Mr. Rahman's media group mirrors the larger struggle between civilian and military forces for power as a country ruled by the army for half its history tries to develop democratically. Mr. Rahman's publications were critical of the previous civilian government of Pakistan Peoples Party, which barred its members from appearing on Geo for more than a year in protest. They offered friendlier coverage of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, elected a year ago. Mr. Sharif, in turn, is widely seen as supporting Mr. Rahman in his confrontation with the military. Mr. Sharif visited Mr. Mir after the assassination attempt but denied he was taking sides. The government established a judicial commission to investigate the shooting and denied any conflict of interests.

"Geo was somewhat softer on this government," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a security analyst. "There is a feeling in military circles that after the shooting, Geo reacted this way because they had some kind of government support."
-----------
Some Pakistani media industry leaders say that Mr. Rahman may have miscalculated with his decision to run the accusations against the ISI in such a stark way. This overreach, they say, is allowing the military to respond by taming all coverage of its activities and to divide civilian forces.

"The space for the military establishment was shrinking," said an executive at another television channel. "He has given the game back to the military."



http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB10001424052702303417104579543910736702046-lMyQjAxMTA0MDAwNjEwNDYyWj

May 6, 2014 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Washington: Television rules the media domain in Pakistan with more than three-fourths of adult population relying on it for news and information, according to a recent US survey.
"Television is by far the most important platform for news and information.
"We see that even when power is in short supply, people still find a way to watch," William Bell, director of audience insights at the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) said.

BBG released media research data found that 76.2 per cent of adult population watches TV while mobile phones were also becoming more common, signalling a possible shift in the way Pakistanis engage with media.
But there is a significant gap in information access between those with access to cable (45 per cent) and satellite (14 per cent), who have a much broader level of access, compared to those with only terrestrial (21 per cent) or no TV, Bell added.
The data found that Pakistani adults relied less on new media, and mobiles are not yet widely used for Internet access.
Although the majority of Pakistani adults (56 per cent) report having a mobile phone, the phones are commonly used primarily for sending messages or making calls, the report said.
"Mobile has a lot of room to grow, as 3G is just now taking off in Pakistan," said Bell.
Pakistani adults who did consume media on less popular platforms such as radio and Internet tended to do so on their mobile devices.
Mobile is the main medium of listening to the radio (62 per cent of radio listeners).

http://www.firstpost.com/world/tv-most-important-platform-for-news-info-in-pakistan-1761865.html

November 19, 2014 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

“Television is by far the most important platform for news and information. We see that even when power is in short supply, people still find a way to watch,” said William Bell, director of audience insights at the BBG. Bell added that there is a significant gap in information access between those with access to cable (45%) and satellite (14%), who have a much broader level of access, compared to those with only terrestrial (21%) or no TV.

The data found that Pakistani adults relied less on new media, and mobiles are not yet widely used for Internet access. Although the majority of Pakistani adults (56%%) report having a mobile phone, the phones are commonly used primarily for basic SMS or calling functions.

“Mobile has a lot of room to grow, as 3G is just now taking off in Pakistan,” said Bell. Pakistani adults who did consume media on less popular platforms such as radio and Internet tended to do so on their mobile devices. Mobile is the main means of going online in Pakistan (72% of Internet users) and the main method of listening to the radio (62% of radio listeners).

Both the media survey and the Gallup World Poll show strong regional differences in media consumption and attitudes.

Presenters discussing Pakistan media use. L-R: William Bell, Director of Audience Insights, International Broadcasting Bureau; Rajesh Srinivasan, Regional Research Director - Asia and Middle East, Gallup; Bruce Sherman, Director, Office of Strategy and Development, BBG; Chris Stewart, Partner, Gallup.
Presenters discussing Pakistan media use. L-R: William Bell, Director of Audience Insights, International Broadcasting Bureau; Rajesh Srinivasan, Regional Research Director – Asia and Middle East, Gallup; Bruce Sherman, Director, Office of Strategy and Development, BBG; Chris Stewart, Partner, Gallup.
“Increasing confidence in the national government is the single most striking observation since we started measuring this on the World Poll, and there are regional variations that might be due to exposure to state media,” said Rajesh Srinivasan, regional research director for Asia and Middle East at Gallup. “For example KPK has the lowest confidence in National government and they seem to rely more on State media for news and information.”

The BBG broadcasts to Pakistan with a blend of radio, television, and new media via Voice of America’s Urdu Service, VOA’s Radio Deewa, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Radio Mashaal.

A research brief and presentation with further information about this data can be found here, and a video of the briefing will be added in the coming days. More information about the BBG’s media research series is available here.

http://www.bbg.gov/blog/2014/10/16/pakistan-remains-tv-market-with-room-for-growth-for-mobile/

November 19, 2014 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s Saad Haroon is the second-funniest man in the world. The title was bestowed on him at the American comedy club Laugh Factory’s first international competition in October, during which Haroon got more than 7,000 votes in a public poll, beating comedians from France, the UAE and Spain. Haroon, who has been touring in the United States, will perform at the Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha on Wednesday, December 17, in a show hosted by Dubai Laughing Comedy Club.

Haroon’s 10-year career has been full of firsts: he created Blackfish, Pakistan’s first improv comedy troupe; he headed the first English-language political and social satire show on national television; and his Saad Haroon: Very Live! tour made him the first Pakistani comedian to perform standup routines in English across Pakistan. Ahead of his show in Dubai, Haroon tells us why, now more than ever, social and political satire in his country has become necessary and relevant.

How did you get into comedy?

I started around 2001, at the time the 9/11 attacks occurred. It was a depressing time for Pakistan – all the war and terror. We were going through a tough time. I wanted to do something that would keep people happy on a daily basis. I was working with my father back then and started to do comedy on the side. It was like I was leading two separate lives. At the time, I thought I’d be a good desi boy and sooner or later give up comedy. But I quit my job instead. I’ll be sharing a chunk of those stories from that journey on my show.

How is political and social satire received in Pakistan?

Pakistan has definitely gone through some hard times recently. As far as politics goes, people will talk about anything. It’s like we are honest to a fault – we call a spade a spade. Generally, when you are part of a society, you tend to gloss over things, but I’m proud that in Pakistan no one glosses over anything. We are still a young country, we’ll see how this honesty ends in the national character and scheme of things.

But is any topic off limits on stage?

There are definitely social taboos. You can say things about politics and you may or may not get into trouble depending on what city you are in and its affiliations. So it does get tricky. Of course, Pakistan is a very religious country, so people don’t appreciate humour about religion. You’ve got to respect sensitivities – performing in the UAE is the same way. My approach is to talk about things in a certain manner and make people laugh.

Offstage, what’s a typical day in your life like?

Very boring. Out of bed at 8am and then it’s just answering emails, writing and correspondence. I don’t have a manager, so I have to handle everything, right from writing, producing, directing, acting and getting through the show. It’s a full-time job.

When you won the title of the second-funniest person in the world you said that even if you had come last you would not have been disappointed. What would have been the consolation?

Just getting nominated would have been the consolation – at least someone is confident of my ability. And in a competition such as this, you meet all kinds of comedians, each with a different style. Just the whole experience was worth it. There is no good reason why I do comedy. It’s a very chaotic and neurotic profession that I’m addicted to.

If you were to run into an alien on Earth, what joke would you tell?

Gosh, I’d just say run and don’t look back. That’s my sad interpretation of what’s going on. I’d ask them what they were doing here and tell them to run for their life.

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-lifestyle/on-stage/catch-pakistans-pioneering-comic-saad-haroon-voted-second-funniest-man-in-the-world-in-dubai

December 15, 2014 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Anyone who has picked up a book in recent years will know that Pakistani writers are extraordinary. They are the keenest observers of this complicated country of ours; they are honest, curious and self-critical. The best investigate essential human stories, bypassing tired news headlines to portray a world otherwise unseen. And they do with wit, razor sharp prose, and a fine sense of negotiation. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fatima-bhutto/the-literature-of-pakistan_b_6879738.html

March 18, 2015 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Radio World: #Pakistan Broadcasting Corp. Joins DRM Consortium. Plans to digitize radio broadcast infrastructure http://www.radioworld.com/article/pakistan-broadcasting-corp-joins-drm-consortium/276804 …

Digital Radio Mondiale has announced that public broadcaster Pakistan Broadcasting Corp. is the latest member of the DRM Consortium.

PBC programs consist of music, features and plays meant to entertain listeners while also educating its overseas audiences about Pakistani culture, government and the world. The PBC broadcasts in 23-different state-recognized languages 24-hours a day.

“The Pakistan Broadcasting Corp. is interested in introducing the latest digital technologies for the benefit of the Pakistani listeners,” said Syed Imran, director general of PBC. “As such we are happy to join the DRM Consortium as we are embarking on the modernization and digitization of our infrastructures.”

DRM Chairman Ruxandra Obreja, welcomes PBC to the DRM Consortium and sees this “as a serious commitment of PBC to the latest radio technologies like the DRM standard and a chance for the DRM Consortium to strengthen its position in Asia and to learn more from an important market like Pakistan.”

- See more at: http://www.radioworld.com/article/pakistan-broadcasting-corp-joins-drm-consortium/276804#sthash.22pUBuAm.dpuf

August 11, 2015 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

‘#Pakistan’s #advertisement market is worth Rs65b’ with annual growth of 10-12pc’ http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/?p=516910 via @ePakistanToday #Media #TV

Pakistan’s total advertisement budget has exceeded Rs65 billion in the last few years with a growth of 10 to 12 percent annually. As much as Rs45 billion goes to TV, while Rs17 billion are spent on print media, said Fouad Hussain, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GroupM, the biggest ad buying house of the country.

“The total billings of the television and print media ads through GroupM are around Rs19 billion, which is over a quarter of the total advertisement budget of the country,” Hussain told Pakistan Today in an exclusive interview.

Hussain has a 17-year experience in the media industry and has been working with brands and media vendors in various roles of brand marketing, research, channel sales, content, strategic communication, media planning and ad buying.


He said most of the TV channels in Pakistan are relying on mobile companies and new brands of mobiles, which are spending billions of rupees on Television ads. Brands like Unilever, Engro Foods and local and foreign banks are slowly shifting to TV from print media, he said.

Hussain, however, said the cash flow management in TV channels and print media is a problem.

“I will not name any channel or media house, but many of the owners have other businesses and use media industry funds on their other businesses which causes delay or late payments of salaries to their employees,” Hussain told Pakistan Today.

He said that there could be some other problems like late clearance of the bills, but the other businesses of the owners of media houses are the main reason for cash flow problems.

The GroupM CEO said the size of the print media ad budget has also been increasing during the last five to 10 years. He said the brands have been increasing their print media budget overtime. He said the newspapers have also increased the cost of advertisement per centimeter.

“If a newspaper was charging Rs10,000 for an ad five years ago, it is now charging Rs100,000,” Hussain said, and added, “It is true that the TV industry has more of a bright future in the country compared to print media.” He said that the print media has been losing its share of the market because “unlike the TV industry, there is no new research work being done in the print media”.

Now, everyone knows which TV channel is more popular and in which city; and the advertisers also know where they need to focus. But it is hard to find out the same information for newspapers. No one knows which newspapers are being read and in which city or area.

“I will not say that the readerships of the newspapers are coming down, but it is hard to find out the exact figure.” He said the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) should conduct a survey of the newspapers’ readerships locally and area wise once every two or three years.

“We are a kind of advisors between advertisers and the media. We have to suggest to them where their market is,” Hussain said.

Replying to another question, he said the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC)’s figures are only for the government advertisements. It is a demand of the federal and provincial governments as they are supporting the TV channels and the print media through advertisements. The government spends Rs6-7 billion on advertisements in the media,” he said.


The ABC certification does not mean readership and it does not tell which area the newspaper is being read in, he said, and added that it is very difficult to find that out.

He said that the APNS should conduct a survey through a reputable institution like the TV industry.

“The owners of the print media have stopped investing in their writers and on journalism,” he said, adding “If they stop grooming writers, the standards of newspapers will decline. Earlier, this industry was considered important because the owners were spending on it.”

May 1, 2016 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Stalled by #Axact Scandal, #Pakistan's #Karachi-based Newest Network Bol Goes on the Air at Last

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/19/world/asia/pakistan-bol-tv-axact.html?_r=0

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A high-profile Pakistani news network, Bol TV, made its inaugural broadcast on Tuesday, more than a year after its planned debut was derailed when its parent company was embroiled in a scandal involving fake online degrees.

Bol TV Network’s parent company, the software company Axact, was caught up in criminal investigations after The New York Times unearthed employee accounts and documents showing that the company was making tens of millions of dollars a year by selling fake degrees and diplomas online and defrauding customers who were seeking education. Axact’s offices were shuttered, and the company’s chief executive and other officials were jailed during the investigation.

This month, the chief executive, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh, was released on bail after he and more than a dozen others were indicted on charges of selling fake degrees and other counts. Separately, in August, Mr. Shaikh was indicted in a different case related to money laundering.

Despite his legal woes, Mr. Shaikh vowed to proceed with plans for Bol to make its debut, and he has said he intends to start a related newspaper early next year.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in the Axact case have quit as the legal proceedings have dragged on, hinting that they were coming under threat. The house of the former lead prosecutor, Zahid Jamil, was struck by a grenade in September, months after he had left the case but was in talks over whether to take it up again, according to Pakistani media reports. And a top investigator for the Federal Investigation Agency complained of intimidation and harassment related to the case, according to another media report.

After a lull of 17 months, the once-deserted headquarters of Bol TV Network, in Korangi, a suburb of the port city of Karachi, is now abuzz with activity.

In the months before the Axact scandal left hundreds of Bol’s employees out of work, the network made headlines by wooing away top broadcasters and executives from rivals and offering pay far above the usual industry rates. The network’s management said that Bol would revolutionize the Pakistani local news media industry and offer an aggressively patriotic point of view.

On Tuesday, Ali, a media worker associated with Bol TV who asked to be identified by only his first name, said that workers had started coming back over the past month and a half, and were again being paid.

Members of the journalists’ trade union in Karachi have maintained that the initial closing of Bol TV was a major setback for media workers in Pakistan. For months, street demonstrations were organized to protest the plight of Bol workers.

Shoaib Ahmed, who led a campaign against broadcasting limits on Bol TV in the city, said, “From journalists to cameramen, and technical and managerial staff, the announcement of Bol’s shutdown was a thunder strike.”

October 20, 2016 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

First ever #Pakistan #DTH Bidding kicks off in #Islamabad, crosses Rs 1bn mark. #DISH #Cable #TV #internet #digital https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/167110-First-ever-Pakistani-DTH-Bidding-kicks-off-in-Islamabad …

After the Supreme Court of Pakistan decided in favour of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), the first ever bidding of the Pakistani DTH was held in the federal capital on Wednesday.

Absar Alam had held a press conference the previous day and termed DTH as a game-changer for Pakistan. The PEMRA chief had stated that this digital technology was the need of the hour since other countries in the region were making use of it except for Pakistan.
Absar had promised that PEMRA would take care of cable operators. He cited the example of Europe and the United States, where DTH was functional and so was cable TV.

"In developed countries like the United States and Germany, where the DTH systems had been launched over 20 years ago, penetration of the DTH service is 30 per cent while 70 percent viewers still depend on the cable system, which shows that both systems can coexist," he had said on Tuesday.

He also spoke out against those who were illegally transmitting Indian DTH service, stating that the mafia responsible for it should also go to the courts against illegal Indian DTH service transmission.

November 23, 2016 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's Media: #GEO TV and #ARY News face off @AJEnglish

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/listeningpost/2017/03/pakistan-geo-tv-ary-news-face-170318120831422.html

Munizae Jahangir: " The Geo-ARY debacle was perceived to be a proxy war between the establishment and the government of Pakistan."

The case failed to draw that much attention but, as 2016 drew to a close, a court in London convicted the owners of ARY News of slander and libel and awarded $3.7m in damages to the plaintiff, Geo TV.

What set this case apart was the fact that a British court was ruling on a squabble between two of the biggest media players in Pakistan.

The very public battle between Geo TV and ARY has been characterised as a low point for the Pakistani news media.

The TV news sector in Pakistan has exploded in size in the 15 years since the days of only one, state-owned domestic channel. But the quality of the journalism often gives way to sensationalism and irresponsible reporting, and, in this case, reckless accusations of blasphemy.

Some see the conflict between Geo and ARY as a kind proxy war for a larger struggle, involving the Pakistani powers that be - over who really controls the country.

The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi reports on a slightly complicated media story that reveals much about politics and power in Pakistan.

"The competition was rooted in how well the channels themselves were performing ... but over time, it morphed into something way more ugly, way more public," says Sadaf Khan, director of programmes, Media Matters for Democracy.

April 2014 marked a turning point in the competition between the two channels.

An attempt on the life of Geo News' most prominent anchor, Hamid Mir, put the journalist and his channel on a collision course with the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI. Mir had reported extensively on the agency and said he was convinced it was behind the attack.

This wasn't the first time the ISI was accused of targeting a journalist.

In 2011, investigative reporter Saleem Shahzad was kidnapped and then found dead in northeast Pakistan. Shahzad had documented three warnings from the ISI, letting him know his work had put him on their radar.

Now, three years later, the Mir case put the lingering issue of alleged rogue operations of the ISI back in the headlines, and ARY waded into the debate.

When ARY backed the ISI, it ostensibly aligned itself with the intelligence community and the military - the Pakistani establishment.

Geo, on the other hand, was seen to be allied with the elected government.

READ MORE: Pakistan's Geo News channel taken off air

"The Geo-ARY debacle was perceived to be a proxy war between the establishment and the government of Pakistan," explains Munizae Jahangir, senior anchor and executive producer, AAJ Television.

ARY News made it personal by accusing Geo TV owner Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman of taking money from Indian intelligence and using it to defame and discredit Pakistan.

Such accusations can get you killed in Pakistan.

"One of the main allegations was that we had run this campaign for peace between India and Pakistan, which was a media-led campaign - The Times of India, and The Jang Group had come together. This was completely an initiative that was funded entirely by ourselves - we had absolutely no funding from any international organisation, let alone intelligence agencies, and, and yet, continuously, documents were waved on the screen," says Geo TV president Imran Aslam.

"The editorial stance taken by our channels on various issues are different ... However, if you work on the behest of any government or you ally yourself with a government, then your journalism is flawed and the Jang and Geo group's output are perfect examples of this," says ARY News host Arshad Sharif.

March 19, 2017 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Reporters Without Borders: "#Pakistan #media among the freest in #Asia". Still ranks it 139 out of 180 in the world
https://www.voanews.com/a/fear-of-militants-and-state-actors-hampers-press-freedom-in-pakistan/3828031.html


A press freedom index released by Reporters Without Borders this week has called Pakistani media among the freest in Asia. Yet, the same index has listed the country as number 139 out of 180 countries for press freedom, far behind its war torn neighbor Afghanistan, which is at number 120.

The reason, many Pakistani journalists explain, is that they have the freedom to report some issues, but others are considered red lines.

Pakistan always had private print media, albeit with various levels of censorship during military dictatorships and the intermittent periods of elected governments.

But the advent of private electronic media in early 2000s, ironically during the tenure of a military dictator General Pervez Musharraf, changed the landscape. Dozens of live 24/7 news channels started competing with each other for breaking stories and getting scoops.

The country has witnessed a boost in transparency and accountability, especially in the field of governance. Officials often find themselves fielding tough questions from the media. Talk show hosts interrogate politicians on live TV every night.

But the same journalists steer clear of issues that might offend either militant Islamists or the country’s powerful military.

Threats and violence

“Pakistani media faces both threats, state actors and non-state actors, and they are equally ruthless,” said Rana Jawwad, the news editor for Geo news, a popular TV channel.

Journalists in Pakistan have been attacked and murdered with impunity, according to the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists. The government has often promised investigations into violence against journalists, but few culprits have been brought to court, let alone convicted.

Government representatives were unavailable for comment for this report, despite repeated requests.

Journalists living in the tribal areas in the country’s north, for example, face threats from the militants and the security forces fighting them. Many have fled the area or given up their profession. Similarly, journalists anywhere in the country are afraid to discuss issues that might offend the Islamists, like the persecution of certain minority groups or the controversial blasphemy laws.

Reporting on a separatist insurgency in the restive Balochistan province is considered particularly sensitive. Human rights groups have published numerous reports accusing the country’s intelligence agencies of kidnapping, torturing, and killing Baloch nationalists. But the issue is almost non-existent in the otherwise vibrant media discourse. Foreign journalists are not allowed to travel to Balochistan without prior permission.

The only sphere considered safe enough to raise such a sensitive issue was social media, but that impression was shattered when several bloggers who wrote progressive posts disappeared.

“That was a shock for all of us, and the way it had happened because of political expression, that was also very shocking. So the results were fear all around,” said Shahzad Ahmed, country director for Bytes for All, Pakistan, a digital rights advocacy group.

They eventually re-appeared after sustained protests, but most refused to name their captures.

One of them, Waqas Goraya, shared his experiences at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

He believed he was detained because he ran a satirical Facebook page that was critical of the military’s role in politics and in Balochistan.

In an interview with the BBC, he said he was detained by a “government institution” linked to the military and was tortured “for pleasure.”

April 27, 2017 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

An overview of the TV advertising spend in Pakistan in FY 2015-16.

http://aurora.dawn.com/news/1142031/


2015-16 Total Ad Spend Rs 76.2 billion

TV Rs 38 billion

Print Rs. 18 billion

OOH Rs. 8.9 billion

Brand Activation/POP Rs. 4 billion

Radio Rs. 2.8 billion

Digital Rs. 4.5 billion

2014-15
2015-16
TV ad revenue increased by Rs 4.408 billion (13%).

Print ad revenue increased by Rs 1.87 billion (12%).

OOH ad revenue increased by 0.52 billion (6%).

Brand Activation/POP revenue increased by Rs 1 billion (33%).

Radio ad revenue increased by Rs 0.46 billion (20%).

Digital ad revenue increased by nearly 1 billion (27%).

2014-15
2015-16
TV: no change.
Print decreased by 1%.
OOH decreased by 1%.
Brand Activation/POP increased by 1%.
Radio: no change.
Digital increased by 1%.

TV Channels Revenue (Rs billion)
Hum TV 3.84
ARY Digital 3.802
PTV Sports 3
Geo Entertainment 2.93
Geo News 2.6
Urdu1 2.5
PTV Home 2.5
Samaa 1.9
Dunya News 1.8
ARY News 1.8
Express News 1.8
Ten Sports 1.6
ATV 1.5
Geo Kahani 1.18
DawnNews 0.9
Others 4.348
Total
38


Channels that lost their Top 10 positioning this year: Ten Sports and ATV which were #9 and #10 respectively.

Channels that have registered the highest revenue increases: Samaa (88%), Geo News (82%), Geo Entertainment (81%) and ARY News (76%).

The percentage shares of the top two channels (Hum and ARY Digital) remain the same as
FY 2014-15 (10%); others have registered increases ranging between 1 and 3%.

NB:
1) A 15% deduction has been applied to account for agency commission. To arrive at the gross figure, 17.5% commission will have to be applied to the given numbers.
2) Aurora data does not include 'home' ads.

May 19, 2017 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

International publishers forced to re-write approach in India

Copyright infringement and mercurial regulation prove hurdles to lucrative market

https://www.ft.com/content/005a968c-4207-11e7-9d56-25f963e998b2


Dharam Pal Singh Bisht stoops to pick up a fresh stack of hot paper from the out tray of his photocopy machine and hands it to a student, who gives him Rs50 — less than $1 — for 100 pages of material.

With this transaction and hundreds like it every day, Mr Bisht has single-handedly defeated three international publishers, slashed costs for students at Delhi University, and threatened an entire industry.

Mr Bisht runs Delhi University’s photocopy shop, a crowded room crammed with photocopiers and computers where students queue to get their entire course material copied for a fraction of what it would cost to buy the books.

Following the decision in March of three international publishing companies — Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis — to drop their legal case against Mr Bisht, his business is functioning with impunity.

The trio claimed his photocopying business undermined their intellectual property, but the Delhi high court ruled that it was not in students’ interests to shut him down. The companies appealed but later dropped the case, citing “longer-term interests”. Executives say they had given up hope of winning, but believed they could still make money in the country long term.



India is potentially very lucrative for English-language academic publishers. These include privately owned companies such as McGraw Hill Education of the US and Macmillan Education, which is owned by the German company Springer Nature, as well as publicly listed ones such as Informa — through its Taylor & Francis division — and Pearson.

The country is the sixth-biggest publishing market in the world, and the second-largest English-language market behind the US.

India has 25m students in 3m schools and, as of 2012-13, 700 universities and 35,000 affiliated colleges. That market is growing quickly, with the population increasing at 1.2 per cent per year and economic output by about 7 per cent annually.



Though the companies do not declare how much they make in India, figures from Nielsen, the research group show, that overall revenues in the academic publishing sector have rocketed.

In 2013-14, about $2.9bn worth of academic books for schoolchildren were sold in India, and $860m worth of higher education books. By 2015-16, these figures had risen to $4.1bn and $1.2bn, respectively.

“Every publisher wants to come to India; there is a huge opportunity here,” says Vikrant Mathur, director at Nielsen.

But while the opportunities are significant, so are the hurdles — none more so than the perception of weak intellectual property protection.

----
“Access to knowledge will be reduced if this ceases to happen, which we believe is detrimental to the interests of India’s knowledge economy.”

Suprahmanian Seshadri, managing partner at the publishing consultancy Overleaf and a former executive at Oxford University Press, says: “For the publishers, this is already a low-margin market, and it is going to become increasingly difficult for them to make money.”


According to Mr Seshadri, international publishers can expect to make 45 to 50 per cent gross profit margins in India, which translates into 10 per cent earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. That compares with gross margins of 65 to 75 per cent and ebitda of 15 to 20 per cent in more developed markets such as the UK.

Copyright infringement is not the only hurdle in India. Academic publishers saw their market abruptly shrink by about 18,000 schools in February when the government decided all schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education should use only state-published textbooks.

Meanwhile, ministers have also decided to impose a 12 per cent tax on paper as part of the new national goods and services tax due to come into force on July 1.

June 3, 2017 at 11:19 AM  

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