Related article: Do you have a media policy, PPP? – By Sikandar Mehdi
Since coming into power, the PPP has undoubtedly done a good job in holding its own in the political arena despite all the baggage from previous governments. The way these 3 1/2 years have been spent in keeping the nation united and the democracy stable are a testimony to the mettle of the top leadership of the party. However, when a popularly elected government is about to finish its tenure for the second time in the country’s history, the ruling party becomes increasingly and hopelessly unpopular in the urban population centres.
The reason to this is media and fake civil society (FCS) propaganda, and disinformation. To counter this, the party needs a strong, organised and advanced approach to the media policy. The current media policy, or lack thereof, is costing the party an arm and leg! There is no clear indication on who is to comment on what and how. There HAS to be a clear system on how the talk shows and interviews are to be held.
One of the main factors proving themselves as extremely damaging to the party’s credibility is the Current Affairs TV Talk Shows. It is common to have 3 guests at a 1 hour show, and at least 3-4 different topics are discussed, rarely with the relevant people. In the 1 hour show, 20 minutes are typically advertisements. This leaves 40 minutes. Out of those, the host speaks for roughly about 8 minutes. This leaves 32 minutes. These 32 minutes are than divided into the 3 guests, which comes down to roughly 10 minutes each. In these 10 minutes, each guest is expected to cover all 3 topics, which gives roughly 3 minutes per guest per topic, which is clearly not adequate time to advocate any stance. Most of this time is spent in shouting over each other, and ending with no one being able to make a point.
The party needs to push hard for a Code of Conduct, which would have to be followed by all the Current Affairs shows in the media, thus reducing the media misuse factor. This code of conduct must include the maximum number of guests, the minimum runtime, follow up shows for unresolved matters, a time limit on the speaking time of the host, a previous understanding of the topics to be discussed, a limit on the number of topics to be discussed, the guests to be relevant with the topics to be discussed and a clear code of debating between the guests, which would eliminate the unenlightened habit of shouting over each other, all of this resulting in the show becoming a more pleasant and informative experience.
An example of a talk show, which is well designed and planned, can be the 17 March, 2011 showing of ‘Aj ki Khabbar’, played on the Aaj News channel. This show covered the topic of the the Raymond Davis case after his release, and the show was given an onscreen time of 80 minutes, which means a 2 hour show instead of the typical 1 hour show. In this particular viewing, but the time the show concluded, nothing had been left unsaid; everybody was allowed to make their statements and comments.
The main factor being the length of the show, in which claims could not be buried in shouting matches, and by the time the show concluded, the viewer had very clear picture about the whole affair. If all shows were like this, there would be a lesser misunderstandings and the average viewer, who is in all probability never going to do any personal research on the matters discussed, at least comes away with a clear idea of what either side is advocating. Thus, an informative experience instead of the typical Talk Shows, which more often serve the purpose of entertainment instead of information.
The following is the link to the show:
Therefore, in my opinion, the party should push the agenda of a mandatory Code of Conduct for all shows of the nature, as it will serve the interest of the party, of the democracy, and the most important of all, to the sanctity of knowledge.