Broad­cast Me­dia in South Asia

The first South Asia Me­dia Sum­mit held in Is­lam­abad ad­dressed chal­lenges fac­ing broad­cast and print me­dia in the re­gion.

Southasia - - Media Summit -

ev­eral mis­con­cep­tions have pre­vented tra­di­tional ri­vals In­dia and Pak­istan from shun­ning an­i­mos­ity and em­brac­ing peace. How­ever, both na­tions are quick to wel­come any ini­tia­tive that brings them closer. The South Asian Me­dia Sum­mit (SAMS), jointly or­ga­nized by the All Pak­istan News­pa­pers So­ci­ety (APNS) and Ex­change4Me­dia Group in Is­lam­abad, brought to the plat­form me­dia ty­coons, news­pa­per pub­lish­ers, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers from around South Asia. The two-day sum­mit, held at Is­lam­abad’s China Friend­ship Cen­tre, drew no­table me­dia per­son­al­i­ties at a time when the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture re­mains un­cer­tain and the two sworn en­e­mies, In­dia and Pak­istan, were still reel­ing from Jan­uary’s Line of Con­trol in­ci­dent.

The ob­jec­tive of the Sum­mit was to ad­dress the chal­lenges fac­ing main- stream me­dia in an era when dig­i­tal and so­cial me­dia are chang­ing the land­scape. The speak­ers were of the col­lec­tive view that lim­i­ta­tions pre­vent the me­dia from ex­pand­ing its wings to var­i­ous mar­kets. The government also sup­presses me­dia cor­po­ra­tions through its poli­cies, which con­tra­dicts free­dom of press.

The South Asia Me­dia Sum­mit held this year re­volved around the theme “News­pa­pers in the New Me­dia Ecosys­tem.” Since the prim­i­tive years of news­pa­per publi­ca­tion, the in­dus­try has seen trans­for­ma­tions in its for­mat, struc­ture, pro­duc­tion and cir­cu­la­tion. The Sum­mit pro­vided so­lu­tions to rein­vent the news­pa­per in­dus­try. The speak­ers also dis­cussed the evo­lu­tion of the me­dia cul­ture in the re­gion and agreed that free­dom of the me­dia is an in­te­gral part of the so­ci­ety, which would also bring peace be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan. The pan­elists also agreed to set up ex­change pro­grams for me­dia pro­fes­sion­als in South Asia,

Prom­i­nent speak­ers and pan­elists at the Sum­mit in­cluded Prime Min­is­ter of Pak­istan, Raja Pervez Ashraf; Pres­i­dent APNS, Sar­mad Ali; Ed­i­tor-in-Chief, Ex­change4me­dia Group, Anurag Ba­tra; former Fed­eral Min­is­ter Javed Jab­bar, CEO, Times of In­dia, Ravi Dhariwal; Di­rec­tor Mar­ket­ing, The News Pak­istan, Saa­dia Sharif; Chair­man and MD, Vi­jitha Yapa Group, Vi­jitha Yapa; Chair­man In­ter­flow Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Ta­her A. Khan; CEO Ori­ent McCann Erick­son, Ma­sood Hashmi; CEO, Dawn Me­dia Group, Hameed Ha­roon, Pak­istan’s Fed­eral Min­is­ter for In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing, Qa­mar Zaman Kaira, and Chair­man Madi­son World, Sam Bal­sara, amongst oth­ers.

Dis­cussed in de­tail dur­ing the SAMS 2013 was the me­dia land­scape of In­dia and Pak­istan. In this re­gard, the Ed­i­tor-in-Chief of Out­look, Kr­ishna Parsad said that, “In In­dia, elec­tronic me­dia es­pe­cially is guilty of more jin­go­ism than re­al­ity.” Parsad’s per­cep­tion about Pak­istan and its me­dia changed dur­ing his visit as he felt the peo­ple of Pak­istan were sim­i­lar to that of In­dia. He fur­ther noted that the In­dian me­dia gives the im­pres­sion of Pak­istan be­ing en­tirely about gen­er­als and the ISI, which is not true. Ac­cord­ing to Parsad, In­dia and Pak­istan are fac­ing sim­i­lar prob­lems, which they can re­solve through main­stream me­dia.

Shar­ing sim­i­lar views while speak-

ing on ‘Pre­par­ing for the Dawn of a New Era in Me­dia’, CEO of Dawn Me­dia Group, Hameed Ha­roon sug­gested that free­dom of me­dia is in­te­gral to en­sur­ing civic rights and to pro­mote Indo-Pak peace. High­light­ing numer­ous gov­er­nance prob­lems in Pak­istan, Ha­roon ar­gued that the sys­tem is an­tilearn­ing and that a threat will for­ever eclipse free­dom of the press. He also fo­cused on the right to in­for­ma­tion law, which lost much of its power fol­low­ing the 2002 Or­di­nance that re­stricted me­dia out­lets from pub­li­ciz­ing any mil­i­tary-re­lated in­for­ma­tion.

Speak­ing on the sub­ject of ‘Chal­lenges and Ex­pec­ta­tions from the Me­dia across Bor­ders’, former Fed­eral Min­is­ter, Javed Jab­bar said, “I know that both In­dia and Pak­istan are fac­ing chal­lenges while de­cid­ing on poli­cies for me­dia with re­spect to their neigh­bors. Me­dia is so pow­er­ful in both the coun­tries that it can re­duce the dis­tances and dif­fer­ences be­tween the two.” Ac­knowl­edg­ing the ef­forts of the me­dia he said that, “Me­dia has been the fourth pil­lar of democ­racy, but now it has be­come the first pil­lar of the State.” More­over, Jab­bar praised the Aman ki Asha ini­tia­tive by Pak­istan’s Jang Group and The Times of In­dia Group and called it a pos­i­tive step to­wards bridg­ing the di­vide be­tween the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

In a spe­cial ad­dress, Pak­istan’s In- for­ma­tion Min­is­ter, Qa­mar Zaman Kaira re­it­er­ated the government’s com­mit­ment to win­ning the war against ex­trem­ism while as­sert­ing that rad­i­cal­ism im­posed on the Pak­istani so­ci­ety was an im­ported agenda. Kaira al­leged that peace in Pak­istan is vi­tal for a peace­ful In­dia, and vice versa. He also pointed out that Pak­istani view­ers watch In­dian chan­nels and movies with and with­out government per­mis­sion. Re­gret­tably, the In­dian government and the me­dia own­ers do not give a sim­i­lar space to Pak­istani me­dia prod­ucts.

The SAMS 2013 pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for the speak­ers to pro­pose strate­gies to re­shape the news­pa­per in­dus­try. In this re­gard, Chair­man and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Madi­son World, Sam Bal­sara noted that news­pa­per pub­lish­ers should fo­cus on col­or­ful lay­outs to in­duce young read­ers. Gen­eral Man­ager, Mind­share Pak­istan, Fouad Hus­sain, stressed on the need for news­pa­pers to mod­ify their pro­duc­tion ap­proach. He cited lack of in­ter­est as the main rea­son as to why news­pa­per read­er­ship is less than tele­vi­sion view­er­ship. Sim­i­larly, Aly Mus­tan­sir, Ex­ec­u­tive VP and Head of Mar­ket­ing and Brand Man­age­ment, Habib Bank Lim­ited, urged news­pa­per pub­lish­ers to recre­ate their con­tent to en­dure the on­slaught of so­cial me­dia. He said, “Print me­dia faces a tricky sit­u­a­tion, and if ads are to be placed on the ba­sis of re­la­tions alone, then news­pa­pers will ul­ti­mately die out.”

Also high­lighted and dis­cussed at the SAMS was the is­sue of read­er­ship man­age­ment sce­nario in Pak­istan. A trans­par­ent sys­tem is the need of the hour for the news­pa­per in­dus­try to grow. Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Ip­sos Pak­istan, Ab­dul Sat­tar Babar, said that, “There are se­ri­ous ques­tions about the au­then­tic­ity of cir­cu­la­tion data of ABC. For in­stance, a news­pa­per with a cir­cu­la­tion of 20,000 could show hav­ing a cir­cu­la­tion of 0.12 mil­lion to get more ads.”

Pan­elists dis­cussed the mi­gra­tion of print to on­line me­dia and its im­pact on the in­dus­try. Ac­cord­ing to Adil Ahmed, Di­rec­tor, Sym­me­try Group, “If you want to be part of the dig­i­tal word, then you need to start with re­fresh­ing your dig­i­tal think­ing.” Faisal Sher­jan, Dig­i­tal Me­dia Head, Geo TV, rec­om­mended that me­dia own­ers un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of distri­bu­tion, which is equally im­por­tant for the dig­i­tal me­dia as it is for any other medium. With distri­bu­tion it is also nec­es­sary to an­a­lyze the rev­enue streams for on­line con­tent. Ad­dress­ing this is­sue, Anant Goenka, Head of New Me­dia, In­dian Ex­press, felt that news­pa­per pub­lish­ers should opt to reach ex­ten­ders by pro­vid­ing ben­e­fit through on­line edi­tions and should de­velop rev­enue models for dig­i­tal me­dia.

The South Asia Me­dia Sum­mit 2013 con­cluded on the note to ad­dress chal­lenges loom­ing over the me­dia in­dus­try in South Asia, es­pe­cially Pak­istan and In­dia. The speak­ers were con­fi­dent that their sug­ges­tions would fa­cil­i­tate their re­spec­tive gov­ern­ments in tak­ing prompt ac­tion to make the broad­cast me­dia in­dus­try trans­par­ent and ef­fi­cient.

Former Fed­eral Min­is­ter Javed Jab­bar and Pres­i­den­tAPNS, Sar­madAli.

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