This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
2. TELEVISION IN PAKISTAN
2.1 HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
No other medium of mass communication gained popularity
in Pakistan as rapidly as did television.
experimental transmission on 26th November, 1964, from Lahore.
since then the commissioning of full fledged television stations
continued upto December
1974 when the fifth and the last
station at Peshawar was inaugurated. Micro-wave link was estab-
lished in 1975 and colour transmission began in 1976.
A chronology of important events is as under:
oct. 1963 Government of Pakistan decided to introduce TV.
Nov. 1964 Experimental transmission starts from Lahore.
Dec. 1964 Dacca pilot station began its transmission.
Private limited Television Company Government of Pakistan holding shares (other partners were Nippon of Japan and the Thomas Television the United Kingdom.
was set up with the controlling Electric Company International of
Jan. 1967 Rawalpindi commissioned.
May 1967 A public limited company i.e. Pakistan Television Corporation was established.
Karachi Television Centre was inaugurated.
First booster started operation in Murree Hills (Today there are 25 boosters allover the country).
Dec. 1972 Satellite Earth station at Deh Mandro (near Karachi) became operative.
Pakistan became the first south-Asian country to transmit a programme to Europe through satellite.
PTV Centre at Quetta started operation.
Dec. 1974 PTV Centre at Peshawar started operation.
Mar. 1975 All five television centres were synchronized through
a micro-wave link.
July 1976 Colour transmission started.
June 1990 Second channel (PTN) started operation. Twenty seven years of television in Pakistan, have been
the period of significant technological development as almost all
of facilities of production of programmes are
Table 2.A, shows the rapid growth of television in
TAB L E - 2A
Years I No. of I Set count I stations I
Population I No. of covered I viewers
1964 2 N.A. 1.0% 9.32% N.A.
1970 3 123,000 10.0% 32.00% 985,600
1975 5 405,000 18.07% 54.89% 3240,000
1980 5 937,500 31.35% 77.55% 7500,000
1985 5 1436,610 34.61% 81.77% 11492,800
1990 5 1504,200 35.47% 86.39% 12033,600 from PTV Facts & Figures 1981 and PTV Basics 1989.
2.2 TELEVISION IN PAKISTANI SOCIETY
Television has been an immediate success in Pakistan.
Within a short span of time, it became a topic to chat about everywhere. Newspapers and the radio which so far enjoyed the status of prestige and respect, had to vacate the place at the top for the newcomer. Several television programmes, in those closing months of 1964, command respect even today and are mentioned with admiration and nostalgia.
After the inception of television a full scale war broke out between India and Pakistan in September 1965. The 17-day war saw the zenith of popularity of television in Pakistan as it so easily managed to raise the morale of the nation high. Later on, as the element of the newness of the medium faded, people began to evaluate the impact of television on the society. Today, there is no newspaper worth the nanle, which does not carry sUbstantial TV coverage with weekly review column. In these review columns quality of the television programmes is discussed and incisive comments are made about them.
One area which has remained under fire year after year, is that of rigid governmental control on television. Since Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) is owned by the Government of Pakistan alone, television is used for the benefit of the government whoever is at the helms of affairs. As mentioned rather sarcastically in a letter, printed in daily Nation, the issue is perhaps the most intricate one. Writes an observer:
"Credibility has always remained an issue with our television. When did it first lose it is quite untraceable (or did it even achieve it). But credibility, rather a lack of it, has been a bone of contention between the viewers and the government owned PTV". .
In an editorial, The Nation, lamented.
" ..•• There is no denying the fact that despite tall claims of democratising the media, PTV is being used as an instrument of crude propaganda for the ruling party". .
The practice of using the television for government's benefit is now eight regimes old  and perhaps too solidly entrenched to change. Yet a welcome trend did surface (though it was very short lived) during Benazir Bhutto's twenty month term
as Prime Minister when Pakistan Television allowed some to opposition parties also. Although this coverage was
more than an eyewash, the names of opposition leaders were, however, heard on PTV for the first time. As a healthy sign, the trend is still intact and different political parties are getting some coverage in the news bulletins. This was unheard of in the days of Ayub and Yahya Khans or even during the days of elected government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Because of the partisan policy of Pakistan Television,
its news has been termed "no news"
(4) and even a separate
provincial television network has been tried for [5). On the other hand the quality of television news has always been looked upon as unworthy of trust. This lack of credibility touched the lowest ebb when in January 1990, in a quest to show that a strike was not successful, Pakistan Television Khabarnama (News bulletin) telecast a film showing meat shops open on the fixed meatless day. The uproar against this political manoeuvre became so loud that government had to take notice of the bungling of the careless PTV news department.
Apart from subservience to government and toeing of official policy line, Pakistan Television has been deemed a good means of entertainment. In the fields of teleplays, music and sports it has been exceptionally successful and the print medium has always applauded its efficiency in this area.
As such, impact of television on Pakistani society may be understood by keeping a broad classification in view. Masses, in general, are satisfied by the dose of entertainment PTV provides them. They are not generally perturbed over the crude bias in the presentation of news and other programmes of current affairs. As for news, people either turn to the newspapers or to foreign radio stations.
Literate and sophisticated elite on the other hand, are not satisfied. They are quite critical of the PTV programmes and many of them write articles, letters to the editor and columns in national newspapers. Almost all of these critics, strongly condemn the governmental control over PTV and dislike such
exercises by the corporation which mean nothing but self praise
U LLJ 'J)
.L..I J z '...LI ct::
writes a critic.
II the silver jubilee show (on 26-11-1989)
was nothing but ignominious, opprobrium and
sUbstantiation of the maxim "charity begins at
coverage and debunk it as one who thinks that "All is Well" .
There are many who ridicule the PTV's quality of
Such people believe that media have to be freed in Pakistan .
Some of them lament that rural areas get no or only dismal cover-
age in pakistan . Others think that PTV is wasting its
resources  because it has disconcerned itself from the duty
to educate the nation .
2.3 PTY PROGRAMMES
Usually, PTV transmission starts around 4 P.M. and
~continues upto 11 P.M. A morning transmission of about one hour, ~six days a week, has also begun from 1988. On special occa~sions, like a hockey or cricket test match or annual budget speech from the national assembly, transmission time is extended.
The same has been the practice on the eve of election results
after the polling.
From 1970 to 1990, there have been five
general elections in the country and PTV has been the principal
source to inform the people about election results. On all these
five occasions PTV presented a marathon transmission spanning
twenty four hours without any break.
On Fridays, the morning transmission is extended to
several hours and four to five programmes of general interest are
According to "Advertising Scene 1990", 1I ••• five PTV
stations in the country manage more than 56 hours of telecast per
week" . Actually it is more than sixty hours per week.
During the transmission a mix, containing different
kind of programmes are presented. According to PTV publication Basic Facts 1989 , the d~ation of different programmes,
with percentage of time, has been given in Table 2.B (Ranking
worked out by this author)
Table - 2.B
Rank Nature Percentage
I Foreign Films and 16.39
II News 12.58
III Religion 7.96
IV Plays 7.70
V Announcements 7.69
VI Current Affairs 6.79
VII Repeat Programmes 6.71
VIII Feature 5.98
IX Sports & Festivals 5.30
X World cup cricket 4.53
XI Music 4.46
XII Commercials 4.21
XIII Children 2.52
XIV Quiz 1.59
XV Educational Television 1.58
XVI Youth 1.10
XVII Variety 1.01
XVIII Poetry 0.76
XIX Women 0.58
XX Urdu Feature Films 0.56 23
Although different categories have not defined in the Basic Facts, the above table does nature of PTV programmes. It also brings out syndrome in the Pakistan Television Corporation. the break-up tells us that women, in spite of
been clearly indicate the the priority For example,
importance in today's world, do not get more than a mere 0.58% of time. Likewise, time devoted to educational television, youth and children is next to nothing.
If one adds up all the time given to entertainment and non-entertainment programmes of PTV, leaving the announcements and commercials etc. to a third neutral category, then emerges a better picture of PTV. It is telecasting programmes which fall in the following categories.
Entertainment Non-entertainment Mixed
51.39 % 28.91 % 18.70 %
time time time
Over emphasis to entertainment is liked by the masses and particularly by the younger people. Others believe that informative and educational character of television is being grossly underplayed.
Since alternate means of entertainment have been scarce in Pakistan, viewership of PTV programmes kept growing at least upto the induction of second channel, the PTN in June 1990. Yet journalistic writings reveal that response to PTV programmes has changed quite significantly from 1964 to 1990. General feeling
today is that IIPTV's past was better than its present" , and
the average viewing time has declined
2.4 DEARTH OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
Communication research is deplorably underdeveloped in Pakistan. Although, almost all the mass media suffer a great deal due to the hoard of unsolved problems, attention is not paid to scientifically investigated solutions. And TV, as the most popular and pervasive of all the mass media has suffered likewise. In its initial years, it did attain a high level of
Further improvement required research as the provider
of recommendations but it was not used. Daily Dawn, summarized the situation as under.
as the years worn on, the momentum began slow down, and soon a plateau was
reached TV became and has remained all these years an agency which upholds and glorifies the status-quo in almost all important aspects of national lifell .
To break the barrier of the status-quo, PTV has an uphill task and so far it has not responded according to the need. Its academy, known as PTV Academy (Islamabad) is meant for professional training only, and it does not, as a matter of policy, undertake research to solve some problems pertaining to limited effect .
Various departments of social sciences in the universities, howe,ver, have shown some interest in the media research. Departments of Mass Communication and Journalism in the universities at Punjab, Karachi and Dera Ismail Khan undertake small research projects in this area and they have with them a large body of research data which however, is not exchanged properly because there are no arrangements of printing. A limited exchange of research material, therefore, takes place on personal basis.
Department of P~ycho1ogy, University of Peshawar is also one seat of learning which has shown interest in TV research, and one major study was completed by Dr. A1ay Ahmad in 1978. Titled as "Effect of Television Programmes and Commercial
spot Messages on Children", this enquiry explored TV preference and its causes, viewing hours, learning programmes and advertisements, meeting place of the frequency and nature of communication with the family
programme from TV family, members
while watching, reactions to the visit of friends during watch-
ing, preference between movies and TV programmes" .
compared "total amount of time spent on meeting friends outside TV hours, play, radio, hours of sleeping and rising, home study, effects of TV upon reading habits of magazines, books and newspapers and English vocabulary between TV and non-TV children [20J.
In the case of TV children, the following variables were studied:
TV programme preference, and its causes; TV viewing hours; learning from TV programmes and advertisements: meeting place of the family: frequency and nature of communication with the family members while watching TV programmes: reactions to the visit of friends during TV viewing; preference between movies and TV programmes.
Both the TV and non-TV children were studied in respect of the following variables:
Total amount of time spent on meeting friends outside TV hours; play; radio; hours of sleeping and rising: home study effects of TV upon reading habits of magazines: books; newspaper; and English vocabulary.
Results show that social drama was most favoured by the girls. Crime and violence programmes were most favoured by the boys. Their fathers, however, regarded crime and violence as unsuitable programmes for their children. Documentaries and interviews were the least favoured programmes for both. The TV children preferred programmes having partial-fantasy contents. Humour was the major factor of programme preference. Children watched TV for an average of 18.09 hours weekly during winter and 18.01 hours weekly during summer. Another interesting observation was though the entire family watched TV programmes together, there was hardly any verbal interaction among its members. Results also indicate that interactions with visiting friends are inversely related to the degree of programme preference. Results
show that TV children preferred TV programmes as compared to movies.
Furthermore, results show that televiewing reduced hours of meeting with friends, play, radio and study. TV viewing also adversely affected the reading habits of magazines, books and newspapers. As compared with non-TV children, the TV ones were found to be late bed-goers and late risers and the latter sleep for lesser time.
A large majority of fathers of TV children reported that the latter had learnt some undesirable behaviour from TV programmes and spot messages. At the same time, however, they as well as their children thought that TV had a positive effect on general information and vocabulary. The latter was also confirmed through the WIse Vocabulary Scale.
This pioneering study, however did not undertake to explore all areas of TV effect, as it was impossible for a sole researcher to indulge into all related fields. It did not, for example, investigate the world of heavy viewers and their scholastic achievements. other areas which were kept out of the purview of this enquiry were~
i) identification of children with the personalities of history, politics, television and sports
ii) reasons of their attraction towards television
iii) factors of possible passivity disseminated by TV
iv) effects of ethnicity on viewing
v) effects of socio-economic status on viewing
vi) effect of the content of violence in TV programmes
vii) effect of TV's fictional reality on their sense of reality.
As the study was planned and carried out in Peshawar (N.W.F.P.) and a sample of 144 children belonging to educated middle class families residing in the Peshawar University campus, was the basis of findings, any kind f generalization was not probably in view.
Another study was conducted by Dr. Fazal Rahim Khan in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan. Titled as "Violence on Television in Asia: A Case of Pakistan", this enquiry was completed in 1989. The study was part of a larger project involving eight Asian countries. Purpose of the work was to generate comparative data on violence in Asian cultures.
For this study, Dr. Khan content analysed twenty one dramatized entertainment programmes of PTV during 12 18 February 1989. In all, he coded 73 violent incidents with 3.5 per programme and 6.3 per hour of broadcasting. According to the study 85.7 per cent of the sampled programmes contained violence and 68.0 per cent of characters were violent in it. The study shows that males, non-Pakistanis lower-class persons of age group 20-29, involve in violence. It also showed that extent of
violence in PTV programmes is much higher (15.4%) of broadcasting hours than it is in the U.S.A. (1.7%) .
Apart from these two studies no other major study has been taken up in the country or at least it is not commonly
known. Various departments of Mass Communication, Sociology and
Psychology in different universities require their students to
complete a research report for partial fulfillment of their M.A.
As these reports are of a minor scale, these are not
Business Research Bureau (B.RoB.), a Karachi based
marketing research organization has, however, explored the market
to find some viewing patterns needed for commercial enterprises.
According to its latest report, based on the survey conducted
between 18-24 August, 1989, some findings are as under:
(a) Regular TV viewers in all Pakistan 77%
(b) Non-regulars 23 %
(c) Viewing pattern of Males & Females
Bhoolay Bisray Naghmay (old songs)
Kiran Kahani )Neelamghar I (drama serial) !(quiz ShOW)!
The findings indicate that 23 per cent people in
Pakistan are non-viewers of TV. An overwhelming majority of the
viewers are hooked to entertainment programmes, mainly teledrama
and musical shows. Gender differences are also quite pronounced as more women than men are among the viewers of all entertainment programmes. This difference is all the more marked in case of Neelamghar which is a quiz and entertainment show. This programme is regularly watched by 20 per cent more women than men.
References and Notes
1. Shahab Zafar PTV's Credibility, letter in daily Nation, of 4-12-1989.
2. Editorial, daily Nation, 9-1-1990.
3. Editorial, daily Nation, 27-11-1989.
4. Khalid Ahmad, PTV News is No News, daily Frontier Post, 29-9-1989.
5. See legal draft for Punjab TV & Radio, daily Frontier Post, 22-12-1989.
6. M.B. Naqvi, Case for Freeing the Media, daily Dawn, 6-2- 1990.
Maxim Favouritism or Misjudgement:
Awards, daily Nation, 8-12-1989.
8. Asha'ur Rahman All is Well, daily Frontier Post, 26-1- 1990.
9. See interview of Ahmad Saeed Awan, daily Frontier Post, 20- 4-1990.
10. Asha'ur Rahman, All is Well, daily Frontier Post, 26-1- 1990.
11. Fatima Hasan Zamir,PTV Wasting its Resources, daily Business Recorder, 10-5-1990.
12. Sumera Saeed, Educate the Masses, daily Dawn, 15-6- 1990.
13. See Advertising Scene 1990, published by Advertisers, Karachi.
14. PTV Basics 1989, published by Central Sales Office, pakistan Television Corporation Ltd., Karachi.
15. See Daily News, 28-6-1990.
16. Survey finding, monthly Herald, June 1989, pp: 74-78.
17. Editorial daily Dawn, Karachi, 5-12-1989.
18. Shahida Mirza, Television Journalism: A Handbook of Journalism in Pakistan, Institute of Social Sciences, Karachi, 1989, p: 14.
19. Alay Ahmad (Dr.), Effects of Television Programmes and Commercial spot Messages on Children, (abstract), De partment of Psychology, University of Peshawar, 1978.
Fazal Rahim Khan (Dr.), "Violence
Asia: A Case of Pakistan,
Dera Ismail Khan, 1989.
on Television in Gornal University,
22. See Media Report 1989, Business Research Bureau (Pvt) Ltd., Karachi