KARACHI, May 31: ‘Talk shows, breaking news and ratings’ became the most popular and well-attended session on day three of the international ‘Media Agenda 2012’ conference at the Arts Council here on Thursday.
Tracing the history of talk shows during the session, senior journalist and broadcaster Wusatullah Khan said they became more popular after the introduction of the 24/7 news channels. “Even though the channel is on for 24 hours there isn’t as much news to give during such a lengthy period. So we have talk shows. With their simple sets, software and on the spot planning, talk shows are the cheapest way to entertain the audience and get advertisements,” he said.
“Then the programmes are repeated three times in 24 hours, making stars out of the talk show hosts. There are hosts who have become stars in the West, too, such as Tim Sebastian, Larry King and Oprah Winfrey, but they work hard on doing research on their subjects before going on air,” he said.
“So I suggest that you work hard on your research and I promise you that your ratings won’t go down,” he pointed out.
On the subject of breaking news, senior journalist and anchor person Quatrina Hosain said that it was losing its importance because of its frequency. She also spoke about training of newscasters in journalism. “When I ask any of them if they’d read the day’s newspaper, they say they didn’t find the time to do so, but they do make time for their makeup,” she remarked.
Mindless live coverage was also a concern of hers. “There you are describing your and others’ location live on your channel while doing some sensitive report, and there are terrorists also watching and saying ‘thank you very much!,” she pointed out.
About ratings, she said there were a very few rating meters determining what the viewers of the entire country should see.
Senior journalist Qaiser Mahmood said that the meters were supposed to be placed with one per cent of the population but here we only have 5,000 meters. “And these meters, too, are spread over nine cities in three provinces. There are no meters in Balochistan,” he disclosed.
Senior journalist and talk show host Mujahid Barelvi chose to give his speech a slightly different direction when he raised the issue of job securities and media houses not paying journalists what they are really worth.
Summing up as the presiding panelist, senior broadcaster Raza Ali Abidi observed that from what he had heard in the conference made the news channels look more like shops with cut-throat competition. To the students attending the session, he said they should choose journalism after giving it proper thought as the glamour they see on the screen is misleading.
The other two sessions of the day comprised the morning session about the code of conduct of journalists and the concluding session where the experts praised head of the Mass Communications Department of Federal Urdu University of Arts, Sciences and Technology Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan for organising the event in collaboration with Arts Council despite shortage of funds.
Senior journalist Hussain Naqi, Editor of Nai Baat Maqsood Yusufi, social activist Fahim-uz-Zaman, Riaz Shaikh of Szabist, senior TV journalist Shaheen Salahuddin, former editor of Hurriat Farhad Zaidi, Prof Dr Shafey Kidwai of Aligarh Muslim University, India, KPC President Tahir Hasan Khan, Prof Nasir Abbas, Masood Ashar and Arts Council President Ahmed Shah also spoke.