Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pakistan's Geo TV Rapidly Losing Viewers and Advertisers

Geo TV has lost 80% of its viewers and billions of rupees in advertising revenue since it accused Pakistan's ISI of attempting to assassinate its anchor Hamid Mir last April, according to credible reports in the mainstream media.

Pakistan's once most-watched cable-satellite television channel Geo, with the country's largest newsgathering network, has lost more than 80% of its viewers in less than a month, according to the BBC. In addition to Geo News channel, major cable operators across the country have blocked transmission of all other channels of the group, including Geo Super, Geo Tez, Geo Kahani and Geo Entertainment.

Among the biggest advertisers, the mobile phone companies accounting for 20% of media spend on Geo group, have pulled their marketing campaigns from Geo Network, including Geo News, Geo Kahani, Geo Super and Geo Entertainment, according to website which covers telecommunications news.

Pakistan's Top 20 TV Cable-Satellite Channels. Source: Gallup Pakistan
Geo News ranks number 2 and Geo Entertainment ranks 6th among cable-satellite channels in terms of viewers in Pakistan, according to Gallup Pakistan TV ratings data for 2013. Gallup report shows that India's Star Plus tops the list with an average daily viewership of around 12 million Cable and Satellite Viewers during the time period Jan-June (2013). It's followed by PTV Home and Geo News with approximately 8 million average daily Cable and Satellite Viewers.

Overall TV Ratings 2010. Source: 
Terrestrial channels operated by PTV and ATV continue to dominate the overall television viewing in the country.  2010 data from shows PTV Home garnering the highest market share at 46% of all viewers.

Jang Media Group which owns Geo TV channels has been the biggest beneficiary of the 2002 media deregulation ordered by former President Pervez Musharraf. The Jang group is also credited with bringing down the Musharraf government with its heavy coverage of the lawyers movement to restore the former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Mr. Munir Malik, one of Mr. Chaudhry's key allies, said in an interview recently that the lawyers movement could not have succeeded without the backing of Geo TV and other media outlets and civil society which grew up during Musharraf years. Jang Group has been facing rising criticism for what the critics call "sensationalism" and "irresponsible" journalism.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Prof Noam Chomsky on Indian Media

Pakistan's Media and Telecom Revolution

Hamid Mir's Ties to Terrorists and Spies

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Geo TV Under Fire

Muslim Santa Claus Commercializes Ramadan

Wikileaks on Jang Group

Arsalan Iftikhar's Corruption Scandal

Chaudhry is No Angel

1 comment:

Riaz Haq said...

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

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.