Pakistan - Annual State of Media Report 2005-06

Pakistan

Internews Pakistan (http://www.internews.org.pk) compiles an annual State of the Media in Pakistan report. The one for the year 2005-06 has recently been launched. Welcoming the report, Hasan Rizvi, one of the pioneers in ICTs and development communications guru in the country commented that "The report is somewhat sketchy, especially in terms of media's coverage/access (geographic, demographic, ethnic, as well as thematic), the issues related to plurality, gender and the vast under-privileged sections of the society. That's hardly surprising for it is compiled from media practitioners point of view, and as such, the citizens' perspective is missing " .

Internews Pakistan (http://www.internews.org.pk) compiles an annual State of the Media in Pakistan report. The one for the year 2005-06 has recently been launched. Welcoming the report, Hasan Rizvi, one of the pioneers in ICTs and development communications guru in the country commented that "The report is somewhat sketchy, especially in terms of media's coverage/access (geographic, demographic, ethnic, as well as thematic), the issues related to plurality, gender and the vast under-privileged sections of the society. That's hardly surprising for it is compiled from media practitioners point of view, and as such, the citizens' perspective is missing " .

The report has three chapters: Chapter 1: The Year of Reporting Dangerously; Chapter 2: Electronic Media: The Good the Bad and the Ugly; Chapter 3: Chronicles of Violations against Media.

The full report can be accessed at:

http://www.internews.org.pk/stateofmedia2006.php

Covering the Radio Sector, the report informs that the year saw an exponential growth in the commercial FM radio sector where the number of licenses granted by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) grew from just over 40 to 86 during the period. As of May 3, 2006, there were over 50 commercial FM radio stations on air. The highlight of the latest bidding process was a Rs. 3 million (or $50,000) plus bid for a commercial FM radio station in Peshawar, the highest ever, made and won. At the moment, total of 12 public sector universities currently hold Campus Radio licenses across Pakistan and more are joining in from the private sector.

The report emphasises the fact that the earthquake resulted in a huge information gap in the affected areas and responding to lobbying, including by Internews, PEMRA issued within a few weeks 10 emergency area non-commercial FM radio licenses, 8 of them operational. In April six more FM licenses for the affected areas were granted – this time commercial – taking the total radio licenses in quake areas of Kashmir and NWFP to 16. The "state" in this glossary). As a general rule, "government" should not be capitalised.

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has also invited private parties to establish terrestrial local TV channels in Kashmir . The government also allowed establishment of two commercial FM stations in the country's Northern Areas.

The report further elaborates that there are many challenges facing the fragile private radio sector in Pakistan. It is the world of the richest because a rich man in Karachi could win a bid for a station in Quetta and therefore, the station would not be a community radio station, one that should ideally be owned by the local community. PEMRA is yet to come up with a real community radio station definition and policy.

Titled “Media in Pakistan: The Year of Report Dangerously,” the report says making bad news worse is the fact that there has been a dramatic increase in the level of violence and intimidation against journalists and media organizations this year. The good news though is that the impetus of expansion in media space has kept up from the previous three years – particularly in the radio and TV sectors where more licenses have been issued to private media .

The report highlights that “The government authorities and functionaries emerged as media's greatest adversary being involved in arresting dozens of journalists and attacking and beating up hundreds besides banning publications, media reports on electronic media, TV channels and Internet websites, shutting down radio stations, raiding presses, instituting cases against journalists, restricting media from going about their duties including aggressively keeping journalists out of large swathes of territories, particularly the tribal areas in the northwest bordering Afghanistan”.

According to the report's authors Adnan Rehmat and Matiullah Jan, the chronicles of violations against media freedoms in Pakistan this year make for grim reading: at least three journalists killed; two abducted; 206 attacked, beaten, tortured and shot at; 65 arrested; four jailed; five threatened; 19 publications, 32 TV channels and 16 websites banned; 13 newspaper presses raided; one FM station sealed; 12 journalists and media organizations slapped with court cases; 21 prevented from covering official functions and seven newspapers denied state-sponsored advertising from public funds for being critical of government policies – making all this one of the worst years of journalism in Pakistan in recent years.

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