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Describe all normative theories and suggest a normative theory or

combination of normative theory for Pakistan

Normative Theory
Normative theory is related to the social norms and traditions of society, which actually talks
about the operations of media, that how media should operate in the society without crossing the social
norms of society.

There are seven theories which explains the phenomenon of normative theory

1. Authoritarian Theory

2. Totalitarian Theory

3. Libertarian Theory

4. Social Responsibility Theory

5. Free Market Place of Ideas

6. Development Media Theory

7. Democratic Participant Theory

1. Authoritarian Theory

Authoritarian theory was developed in 16 and 17 century in England, this theory supports the
role of media in promoting the policies of government in power. According to this theory media is
controlled by one person or authority like Zia-ul-Haq.

Authoritarian Theory states that all forms of communication should be under the control of a
governing elite or authorities. Authorities justified their control as a means to protect social order.

In most of countries, Kings have this control and they granted royal charters or licenses to media
practitioners. These practitioners could be jailed for violating charters and charters or licenses could be
canceled, media goes through censorships.

The duty of media is to support the policies and actions of the state, and its authorities. The
media should do such things which results in social solidarity and national unity. The state has the right
to control media in national and public interest.

The authoritarian view was prevalent in 17th century Europe where publishing came under the
prerogative and censorship powers of the monarch and church. The authoritarian theory is embraced
today by many leaders of non-democratic states.
The major points of this theory are

• Media should not challenge the writ of the government.

• Direct governmental control of the media.

• No printing that could weaken the established authority

• No offense to existing political set up.

• The government may punish anyone who questions the state's ideology.

• Media professionals are not allowed to have any independence within the media

• Registration of the media by the state.

Analyses on Authoritarian Theory in Pakistani Perspective

In my point of view the model which Authoritarian Theorist suggests cannot be applicable in the
societies like Pakistan because here media always challenge the writ of the government. Pakistani
Government only own one state channel which cannot compete the private news channels due to its
weaknesses. After reading the content of Pakistani newspaper one can only assume that our government
is going to dissolve in few days. The most important topic under discussion in news talk shows is NRO,
because NRO is related to PPP and this political party is in power. In Pakistan if government wants to
punish any journalist because he questions the state`s ideology, government cannot do anything against
him because journalists unions starts protest in the name of freedom of expression. In Pakistan, I think
media professionals are more powerful then the owners and policy making of any media organization.
Only last point is applicable because in Pakistan private news channels can only work if they have
PEMRA License.

2. Totalitarian Theory

Media is used by political party and they have their own ideology and manifesto. This approach
was developed in the Soviet Union, though some of the same things were also done by Nazis. The
purpose was to promote Soviet Socialist System.

After Russian Revolution, Marxism was practiced, and model was structured for media to
promote Communist ideas. The model which was made for media to promote Communist ideology was
structured on these features

• Closely tied to the communist ideology.

• The media is collective agitator, propagandist and educator in the building of

• No private ownership of the media.

• The government is superior to the media institutions.

• The media is supposed to be serious

The soviet theory does not favor free expression, but proposes a positive role of the media for the
society and the world.

Analyses on Totalitarian Theory in Pakistani Perspective

This theory is only applicable in those societies where political parties are strong and have one
ideology and manifesto. In Pakistan political parties are not organize, here member’s loyalties change in
every election, and journalists’ loyalties also change. Therefore this theory is not applicable in Pakistani

3. Libertarian Theory

Libertarian theory was adopted in England and US after 1688, the purpose of this theory is to
inform, entertain, sell, as well as discover truth and check on government. This theory supports private
ownership. This theory takes the philosophical view that man is rational and able to distinguish between
truth and falsehood and, therefore, can choose between a better and worse. This theory provides right to
people to choose what they want to choose. This theory emerges after industrial revolution, which talks
about human rights, women rights, and enlightenment.

Libertarian theory argued that there should be no laws for governing media operations. They
support free media without any regulations. Early Libertarians argued that if individual is freed form
restrictions imposed by Church and state then he will engage in public debate and share his ideas with
others for mutual consensus on anything. They believed strongly in the power of unrestricted public
debate and discussion to create more natural way of structuring society.

According to AEROPAGETICA, a powerful libertarian published in 1644 by John Milton which

states that:

“In a fair debate good and truthful arguments will always win out over lies and deceit. If this is
true it followed, then a new and better social order could be forged using public debate.”

This idea referred to as MILTON’S SELF-RIGHTING PRINCIPLE, and is still cited by

contemporary media professionals. However, the author of Declaration of Independence, Thomas
Jefferson believed in the Self-righting principle so strongly that he once said:

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or

newspapers without government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.”
The writing of Milton was developed in the North American colonies, the writing of John Stuart
Mill supported Milton idea, he argued on Liberty, that

“The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race,
posterity as well as the existing generation, those who dissent from the opinion, even more than who
hold it .If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if
wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of
truth produced by its collision with error.”

These libertarian principles were also adopted in the “Bill of Rights” the first 10 amendments to
U.S. constitution. According to which every individual have natural right and no government,
community, or group can interfere in his freedom

The Libertarian System of News Reporting

The Libertarian model is more popular in Western media, according to this system media enjoys
endless freedom; without any restrictions by the government, by society, or by any media laws.

In Libertarian system, news reporting is not biased as in an authoritarian society, which fulfills
the government's interests, but it is still controlled by its financial dependence. Like Western media,
particularly television stations depend on advertisers for money, and therefore news reports are design in
such way that they support financial supporters.

Also, because of the deregulation movement, Congress and the FCC have allowed freedom
within the telecommunications field, and also made relaxations in the laws that were designed to ensure
social responsibility and ethics in the media.

Today, a large percentage of Western media especially in America, are part of media
conglomerates, companies which focus on increasing their profits every year.

The liberal theory argues that a free marketplace of ideas, which may cause harm in short
term, but best safeguard in the long run for a free and liberal society.

Major points of Libertarian Theory

• Media enjoys an absolute freedom of expression.

• Competitive exposure of alternative viewpoints.

• Attacks on the government's policies are accepted and even encouraged: the media as a

• Journalists and media professionals ought to have full autonomy within the media

• There is no explicit connection between the government and the media.

• The press is free from censorship

• It is accountable to the law for any consequences of its activities that infringe other
individuals ‘rights or the legitimate claims of the society.

• The protection of dignity, reputation, property, privacy, moral development of

individuals, groups, minorities, evens the security of the state no infringement accepted from media.

Analyses on Libertarian Theory in Pakistani Perspective

I think Libertarian Theory is relevant to Pakistan because here media is enjoying absolute
freedom of expression. Our news media criticizes the policies of government on regular basis and
government members are not ashamed of this. They called it as a beauty of democracy to have criticism.
In Pakistan, journalists and media professionals have full power in the media organization, like in of
GEO News, Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan enjoys full powers within the media. Pakistani media always
have bad relations with government due to various reasons. Pakistani press is not freed from censorship
therefore this point is not applicable for Pakistan.

4. Social Responsibility Theory

The social responsibility theory describes social responsibility theory as a 20th century
development and critique of libertarian theory. It attempts to balance the liberal stress on the freedom of
the press. It argues that such freedoms of a powerful news media must be balanced by social
responsibilities. Journalists have a duty to provide well-contextualized news in a comprehensive manner.
They have a duty to provide a diverse forum of views and values. They have a duty to go beyond
entertaining news consumers and to provide a core of in-depth analysis on the most serious issues.

The Social Responsibility System for News Reporting

In the social responsibility theory of the press, the media is driven to benefit the public. It
expects journalists to answer society's need for truth, requires an open and diverse debate on public
issues, and honest updates of current events.

In this model, media ethics is automatic because the press is free to serve its purpose for the
public, as opposed to special interest groups or advertisers. Another condition of the social responsibility
model is that, news reporting cannot be dependent on groups that may encourage bias and unethical
practices in exchange for financial support.

The British BBC news and the American NPR news are both excellent examples of Western
media outlets which fall into the social responsibility category. They depend on their public audience for
compensation, not advertisers, and therefore are not worried about corporate interests. They both share a
focus on education, instead of merely trying to entertain their listeners and viewers. They have to focus
on social responsibility and respect media ethics in order to satisfy the public.

This theory supports freedom of press but at the same time puts lot of responsibility on media.
As discussed in the beginning that the media is not just seen as an enterprise like others in the business
sector of any society, but due to its unique nature, society expects a particular role which media must
play in getting rid of social evils, educating people, criticizing government policies and exposing other
wrong doings in a society.

The sense of responsibility has been emphasized more in this theory as compared to any other.

The major points of Social Responsibility Theory are

• Media has certain obligations to society:

• It must show truth, accuracy, objectivity, and balance

• The media should be free but self-regulated (codes of conduct, and ethics)

• The media is pluralistic: diversity of society, various points of view, forum for ideas

• The media ownership is a public trust. The journalist is accountable to his audience /

Analyses on Social Responsibility Theory in Pakistani Perspective

In my point of view this theory is not applicable in societies like Pakistan where media is
immature and where media doesn’t accept it social obligation for society. Pakistani news media always
have biasness in news reports, and here media always show one side of story through which media can
sensationalize any issue. Pakistani media tries to make people fool all the time and everything is left on
innocent and uneducated public which does not have any sense they are controlled by media as puppet.
In Pakistani media organization where majority of journalists are uneducated how come this can be
possible that they should be self-regulated with codes of conduct and ethics. In our talk shows only those
guests are invited who supports the view point of host, in Pakistani media diverse views are not
welcome. In Pakistan, majority of journalists have no patience for criticism from the audience because
they think themselves as super heroes and innocent from all type of mistakes.

5. Free Market Place of Idea Theory

According to Free market place of ideas, media provides information to the consumers. Anything
which brings you money, you can show it on media. They have change news and media to
“Commodity” which bring money. In this thing your religion, culture doesn’t matter if program have
good rating. In present day Infotainment Programmes are best example in which there are self made
characters in news reports.
For Example

In the case of War against Taliban, our media is portraying this war as a narrative story in which
Taliban is Vilan, General Ishfaq Pervaiz Kyani is hero, Pakistani Sovereignty is heroine, and Taliban
Father is friend of hero.

Analyses on Free Market Place of Idea Theory in Pakistani Perspective

I think this theory is more applicable in Pakistani society because in our media many a
programme are shown only due to this reason because they have brought good money from advertiser.
Capital Talk is good example because this programme is a high ranking programme but the content of
this programme is against basic ethics of journalism.

6. Development Theory

According to this theory, media should work for national development objectives. As in
developed nations media is playing very important role for developing purposes. In developing countries
media is also playing role for the development purposes like family planning, malaria and most
important of all struggles to keep them united in all sort of crisis.

The model selected for developing countries was “Economic Development” Martial Plain under
which development in media and communication sector was made. Because their view was that media
can be used as agent for development.

Till 1970 this was used through which indigenous cultures destroyed in the name of

In 1970 New World Economic Order came, according to which in developing countries there is
no balance flow of communication which resulted in cultural imperialism.

After that MacBride Report came according to which the local media of developing countries
should be developed, and there should be horizontal flow of communication. As foreign media is
promoting external culture, then local media should be strong to prevent from cultural imperialism.

This idea was opposed by USA, and UK. Because they thought that in developing countries
media is not independent, and if foreign media will also be stopped then people will be deprived of

According to development theory there are some National Development Objectives like poverty,
women rights, terrorism, and etc.
There are two types of development

1. Tangible Development

2. Intangible Development

There is only one drawback in this theory, according to which media should avoid criticism on
government in order to prevent from political instability.

Analyses on Development Theory in Pakistani Perspective

I think to some extent this theory is applicable in Pakistani Society because our media is actually
doing a good job in public awareness campaign like family planning, polio, women rights, and etc.

7. Democratic Participant Theory

According to Democratic Participant Theory, there should be local media which should be
governed by local community and preserve local and regional culture and local people should sponsor it.

Analyses on Democratic Participant Theory in Pakistani Perspective

This theory is not applicable in Pakistan because we have no such local media which is
controlled by local community. Our media organizations are owned by big families like Meer, Nazamis,
and Lakhanis. So they use it as a weapon for their purposes and it does not reflects people’s ideology.

Where Pakistani Media Stands

After studying seven theories of normative approach and Pakistani media I come to this
conclusion that Pakistani media need good communication model through which Pakistani media
can play important role in the society.
Communication Model (Theory) for Pakistan

The theory which I am suggesting for Pakistan will comprise of following features.

• Media should be owned by local community and they should determine

their local objective.

• Journalists should be accountable to their audience.

• Media should give preference to social issues like poverty, HIV, and etc

• Freedom of expression should be given preference while keeping in view

freedom of expression must not harm anyone’s feeling.

• Steps should be taken to decrease media’s reliance on advertisement.

Because in this way bigwigs control media directly or indirectly, so some other ways of
earning must be explored.