LAHORE - There is influx of TV channels. They all cater to the audience of grown up people. None of the Pakistani private TV channels has children from the age of three to 15 in mind as target audience. None of the channels are producing content for children.

In this scenario there are some foreign channels whose programmes are dubbed in Hindi that are viewed by the children. These include Cartoon Network, Nick, Pogo TV, Hungama, Disney, Baby TV and Chu Chu TV. Since no dubbing of cartoons in Urdu is done in Pakistan the Hindi dubbed channels are popular with children. Instead of getting acquainted with our own national language the children are fast learning Hindi language that has many words purely from Sanskrit. For example small children can often seen talking words like shakti (for power), shanti (for peace), padhariay (welcome), mahraj (for mister) and so on.

Pakistan’s state owned TV channel has allocated one hour transmission for children during which different programmess for children to shape up their personality are presented. The TV channels race is for Television Rating Point, TRPs. The situation is same with regard to literature for children.

Former executive programme manger of PTV Sajjad Ahmed sees absence of local content despite being technically equipped as ‘lack of seriousness’ of people in power. “Recently, when Burqa Avenger was launched it became a commercial success. It was a win-win situation for media houses and quality content for the children too,” he said. Sajjad who has to his credit several hit drama series for children suggested the situation will not change unless PEMRA actively play its due role to ensure TV channels allot air time for children.

“Our children will never know about our classics and end up with alien after watching foreign content. A comprehensive policy needs to be chalked out to save the next generation,” Sajjad said.

“Upgrade your original content and tell your stories to your children, and come out of the fear that investing on children programmes lead to a situation where ‘money is not returning’, Sajjad emphasized. He said private sector and multinational companies should start sponsoring children programmes and in few years the situation would change. “Western societies are not foolish to invest so much capital, use their best minds to create animated and other children content. Why are we not producing such content despite having the capability!

Musharraf Ali Farooqi, writer, storyteller and folklorist, sipping cup of green tea in coffee bar talking to The Nation said he envisions the situation where no policy for children’s aftermath would be complete alienation of children from local culture and national narrative. “There are so much Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, English nowadays but where is your national language Urdu in this linguistic shipyard,” Musharraf said.

“One of the biggest challenges is that children comprehend Urdu as boring and prefer to read other literature and watch other TV channels. No noticeable work has been done so far at provincial levels except Punjab where somehow the pace of writing for children content is gaining momentum.  “Children learn from characters, if we just simply start telling our local sorties to children, they would better perceive and look at their surroundings in different way,” he said.

“I think as a nation we are just pretending that we love our children, but that is not the case. If this was the case, we would not let them watch adult programmes. “You (parents) are not talking to your children and perhaps that is the reason he is watching cartoons on TV. Just start talking to them. Otherwise they will learn what they are watching and reading and start inspiring from other countries heroes.” Musharraf said.

Phool Editor and Pakistan Children Magazine Society’s (CMS) President Muhammad Shoaib Mirza said that children’s literature is being produced in Pakistan all we need is government’s support. “Around 35 to 40 children magazines from all over the Pakistan are registered with CMS but we see there is rarely a government ad and children literature awards in public sector,” he said.