ISLAMABAD -  Politicians may be thinking that a few glib punch-lines and smooth-talking will pull them closer to the target audience and, in return, TV channels may be hoping to rope in maximum viewers to boost their rating.

Of late, a new trend has been observed in the electronic media as several politicians and office-bearers of leading political parties have started appearing on different TV channels as “host-cum-anchors” with the PPP in the lead.

Most of these politicians have been hired on hefty monthly packages by satellite TV channels.

The first show of former President Asif Ali Zardari was aired on BOL TV last Sunday night. It has also been decided by the channel that Zardari will appear on BOL TV at 9.30 every Sunday night as an analyst with the name of show “Pakistan Khappay with President Asif Ali Zardari”.

BOL news is also airing Zardari’s promo.

Fawad Chaudhary, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), who belongs to a political family of Jhelum, introduced the trend as politician–cum-TV anchor.

Fawad started his career as anchor and analyst for the marathon ARY transmission, which mostly tilted towards the PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), during their sit-ins in 2014.

Later, he hosted a current affairs programme along with senior TV anchor Dr Moeed Pirzada on Express TV. The programme of Fawad and Pirzada was popular among the people and also had a good rating. Later, he joined Neo TV and started current affairs programme in the prime time slot.

Insiders in BOL TV told The Nation that Zardari visited BOL TV office last month and went to different departments and “appreciated BOL’s new trend in the Pakistani media”.

They said that during his visit to the BOL TV office, Zardari told the channel’s administration that “we would work together for strengthening democracy in the country”.

In the first episode of the show, Zardari appeared live from Bilawal House Karachi and responded to questions regarding current affairs and regional issues.

Zardari also expressed his concerns over the absence of a Foreign Minister and issues related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project,

BOL insiders also claimed that many politicians have approached the BOL administration to “create job opportunities for them”.

Fawad launched a new programme on the same channel with a name “Tarjuman” two weeks ago and has added two political persons — PPP Information Secretary Punjab Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and spokesperson for Prime Minister Dr Musaddaq Malik — to his show, he is getting a good amount of money from the channel.

Talking to The Nation, Fawad said that his appearance on the media as TV host benefitted him in the last by-election in Jhelum and it was one of the main factors in securing good votes.

He lost the election to the PML-N candidate only from 2000 votes.

Replying to a question, he said that he was the pioneer who turned himself as TV host from politics. He said that the new trend of the electronic media would not have an effect on professional journalists.

“Only non-professional journalists are worried due to the politicians’ current affairs programmes,” he said.

After Fawad's “successful programme”, different private TV channels have started to approach and convince prominent politicians to start TV programme on their channels.

BOL TV has ‘hired’ three senior politicians — PPP Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira, PTI senior leader Shafqat Mehmood and PML-N leader Shiekh Waqas Akram — on hefty packages for a programme “Abb Pata Chala”.   

BOL television has also signed up former President Pervez Musharraf for a weekly show named “Sab Se Pehle Pakistan with President Pervez Musharraf”.

According to a post on the channel’s Facebook page, a show “Dr Qadri Kay Saath” will also be broadcast every Saturday evening.

A senior leader of the PPP while wishing not to be named expressed his disappointed over Kaira and Khokhaar’s “joining” a private TV.

He said that the party position was worst in Punjab but “top provincial office bearers have booked themselves for TV shows five days a week”.

He questioned the performance of the PPP Punjab chapter and said it has failed to prepare a ground for the next general elections.

He urged his colleague to focus on next elections instead of conducting TV shows.

PPP sources confided to The Nation that Kaira has got permission from party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to “appear co-host” the programme.   

Talking to The Nation, Kaira said that “it’s a little bit difficult to spare one hour four days a week for recording a programme. However, he said that his political activities would not get affected by the TV show.

He also said that his role in the said programme was not of an anchor or an analyst rather he would just represent his party and present his party’s point of view.

He will be getting a stipend for sparing time for the programme.