State manipulation of the media on political basis is nothing new, especially when it comes to government tools such as PTV. The question at this point is, does the state really think it can get away with it given the rise in political awareness amongst the electorate and the digital realm where not just anyone can share but there is a democratisation which is empowering enough for people to use as a means of accountability?
In either situation where there is no lack of journalists or where there a small group of journalists who are considered ‘credible’, the industry as a whole suffers because either there is an excess which risks compromise on quality or we end up with the same faces, same names with little opportunity for merit or growth.
Add to the mix state intervention which does not seek to push for further development or growth of a tool of communication which essentially is necessary for democratic growth and you have a cycle where the State really has no one to blame but itself for its consistent failure.
Such a situation applies in the recent noise surrounding Mohsin Raza Khan and Aoun Sahi. While there is no need to draw a comparison between the two there is a need to highlight how the media really can be its own worst enemy.
In a meeting dated 12.06.2023, chaired by the then Minister of Information and Broadcasting during the PDM regime, a document emerged showing that PTVC Service Rule Clause 5.08 had been bent for the appointment of Mohsin Raza Khan. Khan, a senior journalist, was appointed as Senior Coordinator for Current Affairs Show.
Shocking! Rules were bent for Mohsin Raza's lucrative hiring in PTV. Soon, details of DARj dealings in PTV Flix and SRBC affairs would expose the real and dirty face of former Secretary Information @SohailAKhanInfo Brace for shocking revelations.. @murtazasolangi @anwaar_kakar pic.twitter.com/ion5dJn2kC— Usman Manzoor (@usmanmanzoor) November 9, 2023
Apart from the obvious compromise on the rules as ordered by the previous Minister, the other issue that arises is why after five years of PTI rule where the media was muzzled, felt the need to appoint a person who most likely was out of touch with an electorate that was not just politically awake but young?
Were there no other media professionals who could serve the position and actually do it in a way which served the state and developed the industry further?
Why such a heavy compromise? And in a digital day and age, to think such an act would go unnoticed when so much had been ‘shared’ social media sites, when will ‘senior’ journalists learn that such acts cannot be conducted anymore?
Did no young journalist under the age of 60 face illness, depression, hardship during the past few years that such an appointment could not be made for them?
سابق سیکرٹری اطلاعات جو موصوف کے کلاس فیلو تھے ان کی وجہ سے رولز کو نرم کرکے صاحب کو پی ٹی وی میں ایڈجسٹ کیا گیا،جناب ایک ہی وقت میں پی ٹی وی اور ایک نجی ٹی وی دونوں سے تنخواہیں وصول کرتے رہے- اب جب جناب کے پاس کوئی قابل ذکر ادارہ نہیں تھا، حکومت وقت کیخلاف پہلے تو زہر اگلتے رہے… https://t.co/cLMpp8Ywlw pic.twitter.com/HTAgmIpKpg— Fahim Akhtar Malik (@writetofahim) November 9, 2023
And now this brouhaha over the appointment of Aoun Sahi has brought out the ugly truth which frankly does not help because not only does it further fragment an already broken media industry but also shows that previous regime players are not quite committed to media freedom as hoped.
ایک سابق سیکرٹری اطلاعات اشتہارات کی من پسند تقسیم، رات گئے پی ٹی وی میں وقت گزارنے کی وجہ سے پوسٹنگ سے محروم ہوئے۔پس پردہ رہ کر دوسروں کی کردار کشی کرا رہے ہیں کو جواب میں کوئی پھول پیش نہیں کرئےگا۔سنا ہےجناب کے بڑھے پیٹ پر ازاربند ڈھیلا رہتا ہے جس وجہ سے پوسٹنگ سے محروم ہوئے— Farooq Faisal Khan (@ffkonee) November 9, 2023
Conducting a social media campaign against current PTV Director of News, Auon Sahi, only exploits the fissures in an industry that could do with the presence of professionals who have more to teach and set new standards of professionalism in an industry that has been compromised to a state of debilitation.
کل سے سوشل میڈیا پر پی ٹی وی کے ڈائریکٹر نیوز عون ساہی کیخلاف ایک منظم مہم چلائی جا رہی ہے ! جو لوگ نا جانتے ہوئے بھی اس مہم میں اپنا حصہ ڈال رہے ہیں انکی اطلاع کیلئے عرض ہے کسی پراپیگنڈہ کا حصہ پہلے زرا سی تحقیق کر لیں ! عون ساہی ہے کون؟ کئی ملکی اور غیر ملکی نشریاتی اداروں کے…— Adeel Sarfraz (@AhmedASarfraz) November 9, 2023
Sahi’s appointment could very well mean a breath of fresh air in an entity that has been relegated to the sideline for far too long. Despite past attempts to haul it into the modern era in what can be best described as two baby steps forward and one adult step backward, any journalist can see the benefits of having a Pulitzer prize winner at the helm of a state owned media entity.
It must be Great Honor and Respect for PTV to have a Professional Journalist like @AounSahi sb as his Head. Defamatory Campaigns cannot stop Professionals from Working.— Aamir Saeed Abbasi (@AmirSaeedAbbasi) November 9, 2023
It is high time defamatory campaigns, especially those that are conducted on a personal basis, were understood with regards to the damage done to an industry that has suffered where the capital city of the country sees the most violence conducted against journalists. Without a credible media industry, there can only be a hollow democratic process and as we have seen, the price is far too high to pay.