Understanding Pakistani Media and Blockbuster Film 'Waar'

Posted by Admin On Tuesday, 22 October 2013 0 comments

Mainstream media is an important asset that can change Public Perceptions and opinions. Around the globe, mainstream media is under the control of a select few. The Contrasting treatment given to the film 'Waar', by the general Public and the reaction by Pakistani Media, gives an insight, into the controlled flow of information in Pakistan.

Understanding who controls the media in a particular market gives a lot of insight into the politics and Management of the country.

Media outlets (TV channels, Radio stations, and Newspapers) need a lot of investment to setup. The cost of broadcast equipment, required for very bare bone Tv Channel, can easily be around USD 6 to 8 Million.
Cost of Human resources and rent of premises required to run it, may also go over million Dollars, even for country like Pakistan.

Anyone who has given a major chunk of their professional life to a media Outlet, can with confidence, tel you that Most Media outlets find it quite difficult to recover their cost of investment in less than 10 years.
Most of you would even be surprised to hear that Investments in media outlets rarely make a profit from normal operations. The reasons beings, high cost of operations, cut throat competition and concentration of Advertising funds under the control of a powerful lobby.

The High breakeven point is easy to understand, due to costly machines, a huge broadcast fee (payable to Satellite Mafia) and the unbelievable 'fat' salaries of Media Personalities.
Competition among media houses is very strong. Anyone browsing thru the 100s if not 1000s Channels finds it quite hard to decide what to watch.

Decisions of 'what to watch' usually depend on how dramatic and unusual the content is.  Glamor, Bare Skin, Human Tragedies of all sorts bring in the most viewers, with the smallest effort. Most media houses take this shortcut instead of hard work and creativity.

Funds for Advertising are under the control of a select group of global firms. The Major chunk of the world production is carried out by the large Multi-National Corporations (MNCs). These MNCs produce everything from your shampoo to the cereals that your kids have for breakfast, right up to the condoms used in bedrooms.

You would be surprised to know, that major Shampoo brands, which are in competition with each other, are actually owned by the same company. The likes of UniLever, Proctor & Gamble, Nestle and their subsidiaries dish out Ads, based on a reward system. Who decides these rewards and how, is a much deeper topic, which will need another Article.
Rest assured; anyone who has a fair understanding of media sector is quite clear on the difficulty of making a profit.

But wait a minute!  If profit is so hard to make, then how do these media houses survive?
To understand this you must know that Investors in the media sector are of two kinds. Those that require NO profit and the second those who NEED profit.

The ones needing no profit fall with the likes of BBC, Al-Jazeera, RT, PTV and Press TV.

These outlets have an agenda and the usually work in line with the foreign Ministries. Their hold on public perception is the key profit they generate. Normal business profit is not part of the management strategy.
The ones needing a profit fall with the likes of Foxnews, Geotv and others.

They survive thru other means. Revenue from normal operations like add revenue is not sufficient to keep them afloat. They actually make revenue from side activities totally independent from normal ads and commercials.

For example Fox-news supports the Republican Party. It goes thru a lot of trouble, to get the republican point of view across, even at the cost of losing the channel's Journalistic Standards. The same is true for Geonews, as most citizens understand it to be pro-ruling party for the soft spot it shows in many of their news analysis.

Analysis of the political spectrum in Pakistan shows that each political party needs a fair bit of favorable coverage. Political Parties at times try to influence Media houses thru hidden deals to influence public opinion.

This an open secret in the Journalistic world. How else would over the top salaries of Star Journalists/Anchorpersons be affordable? The Malik Riaz, Merh bukhari and Mubashir Lucmans Leaked interview shows how the elite try to influence Public opinion.

Apart from the above sources of income, these media houses have other side businesses. The Parent company of ARY Digital, is know as ARY group. It has subsidiaries dealing in Gold, Electronics, Real East and much more.  The Group has presence in more than 15 Business.

'Independent Media Corporation' (IMC), the parent company of GeoNews, is a publishing Giant.  
These large business groups get a huge boost from their Media subsidiaries,  as they can influence Public Opinions, Political landscape, Market Demand and Prices.

It is an open secret that GeoNews, and other subsidiaries of IMC, display a strong pro Indian stance which is irking the Pakistani public. Apart from supporting 'Aman ki Asha', a campaign to smooth relations with India, it regularly shows Indian movies and vulgar dance routines in the middle of Headline news. Many question the logic behind this. Why does the channel include such clips and upset a major chunk of its viewers?

The Answer lies in GeoFilms. The company is among the top six film distributors of Pakistan. No surprise there.

Lets get to the point. Basically the business model of the Geo Network revolves around Indian Media. So much so that even Geo Programming blindly follows the Indian versions. Geo Tez is copycat versions of Sahara tv India. Even the news bulletins follow the Indian format.

Industry Experts find it very strange & awkward to have background music in News reports. Bollywood music dubbed to enhance serious reports are regularly found on GeoNews.
One could almost assume that such Programing was aimed at attracting funds from the Global MNC Cartels, who at the moment are so very pro India.

 Promoting Bollywood and Indian culture seems to be viewed as favorable by the cartel that dishes out the ad funds. A Huge portion of the business, circles around the Pro Indian Lobby. Political commentator, Syed Talat Hussien sarcastically has dubbed this the  ‘Bindiya Lobby’.

Many Media personalities working for Geo like Hamid Mir, have openly expressed criticism of the movie 'WAAR'.  The Extreme criticism displayed on his twitter handle pushes him to the brink of a blabbing spoilt brat.

The film industry in Pakistan had virtually died. What remains of other media is under the control of the bindya lobby.

Indian TV content, even though being of lower quality compared to Pakistani is strongly promoted. Indian content is backed by a larger portion of the ad revenue.

Rival of the Pakistani Film Industry and Patriotic Art has surprised the Bindya Lobby.
Pakistan is an ideological Nation. Different Parts of the country have nothing in common. Neither in language, nor in Ethnicity or culture. The only think that unites the country is an ideology based on religion.
This ideology is under attack from all sides. From Pro Western liberals, Religious Extremists nurtured by the western allies and from Ethnic Nationalists supported and funded by western allies and India.
The liberal claim Jinnah was secular and Pakistan is not an Islamic country. While the Religious Extremist claims Jinnah was infidel and want their own Narrow version of Shariah to be implemented.

As long as Pakistan does not unite under one ideology, it will never be stable. Unity in ideology can only be achieved thru Arts and Culture. Promotion of Arts and culture can only be thru a stable and patriotic media.
Pakistani Cinema has broken the decades old chain, out of Hibernation it has come out to be innovative, free, artistic and full of promise to break free from the old structural mess. This will cause a domino effect which will force the other main media to fall in line with mass public opinion which is highly Pro-Pakistan.
But out of this hope, there also arises a fear.

The bindya lobby has mostly invested its resources in the Media channels. With the rival of the film industry, funds are bound to be moved to gain influence. Unlike other media, control on the film industry might be harder for Pakistani Establishment.

It might not be long when we see Pakistani movies that start to criticize the main thesis of Pakistan or to inflame the sectarian or ethnic tensions that have been ignored by the political elite.

But then again the successes of such anti Pakistan projects depend on the support from masses. Unlike ad supported content, which can be funded by lobbies, films need direct approval from the public thru cinema viewership. Big budget movies which go against the public mindset will not be able to succeed on the box office.

And here in lies the hidden hope for unity. A hidden ‘waar’ or stike on the Nay sayers. 

by Wälí Khan The writer is a Media Analyst, Blogger and activist, can be reached on twitter @tajwali "

Copyrights: SPY EYES - 2013


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