By Shafqat Munir
‘No news is good news’- ‘Anchorocracy’ cost heavily on democracy
I was surprise to see results of interviews of randomly selected people for a news item released by INFN regarding special Eid transmission of various television channels. Majority of respondents liked entertainment programmes, music and dramas presented by various television channels on the eve of Eid ul Fitre but they were critical of anchored political shows being explosive in nature and raising levels of anxiety in people by creating panic.
Famous saying ‘no news is good news’ came true when cross section of people said on September 03, 2011 they breathed a sigh of relief with more entertainment and less politically charged anchored shows on television channels during Eid holidays.
Most of the television channels this time focused more on entertainment and presented fantastic shows that doubled the festivities of Eid-ul-Fitre, as most of the people interviewed by INFN were of the view that they enjoyed most of the Eid shows on almost all television channels and even felt better without watching politically loaded shows that used to rise their levels of anxiety. They demanded more entertainment and awareness programmes, music and drama so that Pakistan can meet needs of its people and society.
“Generally I felt that peace prevailed in the country and there were no verbal fights among rivals as used to be shown in anchored television shows. Honestly speaking, without this ‘siasi tamasha’ (politically charged television shows), we felt better. We are feeling as there was no political intrigue or corridor politics visible as used to be in the anchored shows,” said Mazhar Iqbal, 36, hailing from Jahangir Road Rawalpindi.
Shumaila Tariq, 28, from Islamabad said private channels should continue their entertainment programmes even after Eid as we enjoyed them a lot. “If private television channels present good entertainment and information programmes including music and dramas, people can turn again to local television channels as they did during Eid shows, switching from Indian entertainment channels. We prefer to switch over to Indian channels as in the prime time, all television channels broadcast anchored shows that fan hatred and mudslinging against one an other. Tell me how long we can afforded to watch such shows that provide a platform to trade baseless charges and claims,” she added.
“Unfortunately, many of anchors come to their shows without proper preparation or knowledge of the issue they raise and in a bid to make their show a success, they try to pitch one expert or representative of a political party against the other. In this way, they try to settle their scores or screw to whom they want to instead of imparting any knowledge or information to the people. It looks as if they have a license to disrespect any one they want,” said Rizwan Ahmad, 26, hailing from Islamabad.
“My God, even a couple of female anchors too present their shows in a way that horribly shows how furious and biased they are. However, I am glad there are a few sober female and male anchors that really talk sense and present people’s point of view. They do come with homework. But they are just a few,” Rasheeda Anwar, 38 from Rawalpindi, told INFN.
“Many anchors push us believe that every thing is going wrong, all is bad as if any of the governments, be it federal or provincial, is not doing any thing in the interests of the people. There is no hope at the end of the tunnel. For God sake, do not settle your scores, tell people the truth, if any thing wrong any one does, it should be highlighted in a professional manner and not in a fit of anger or anti-campaign; and if any one does good, do profile it as well as honest professional,” said Rehana Farooqi, a young would-be journalist aspiring to be an anchor but with difference.
“I know, but I do not want to name an anchor who had given almost 17 deadlines of fall of Zardari government since 2008 election as he was trying to conquer ‘Somnath’ temple (history tells this temple in sub continent was attacked 17 times before it was finally conquered), but could not succeed so far. Every night, he comes on a private television and starts his analysis and ends up with a conclusion that the government is going to fall in next few days and whatever data he presents he never substantiated. He forgets that in democracy only people elect and defeat governments and not the anchors. Is it not ‘anchorocracy’ at the cost of ‘democracy’,” asks Nabila Zahid, a communications researcher.
“We want more entertainment programmes and appeal to private television channels’ management not to allow some individual anchors to cost heavily on their budgets and instead they should give more space to music, educational and awareness programmes, drama and documentaries rather useless political shows,” said Dr Mushtaq Ahmad from Rawalpindi.
One agrees with the respondents that anchored politically biased shows are losing credibility and hence rating of most of anchored political shows, except for those who maintain their real anchor posture and do not become a party, is going down. This rating is visible if you see advertisements of these shows.
The anchor, who tried 17 times to conquer Somnath temple (meaning prompting fall of government through agenda setting and propaganda techniques in the garb of journalism during last three years) but could not succeed, in his promo claimed to be the most watched current affair show on television. Reality is that this self-claimed ‘most watched show’ hardly attracts a few advertisers; whereas shows with satiric performances and sense of good humor got popularity and hence command high rating over the so-called political shows.