Electronic media in Pakistan can be divided into two eras: pre-nineties and post nineties. From its infancy till its so-called present maturity, the media has witnessed two extremes.

The pre-nineties era witnessed extreme strictness. Women were shown wearing dupattas all the time on TV. Whether it was some scene in the mountains, in the kitchen, or sleeping, the dupatta never came off. There were times when one had suspicions that men would be seen wearing dupattas, too. Under government’s tight control, Pakistan Television Channel was the only channel and the sole source of entertainment from 60’s to the 80’s. Unfortunately, PTV did not offer much entertainment to its viewers and showed little more than the standard PTV Khabarnama at 9:00 every day, a few dramas, Qawali programs etc. It was a ‘marriage of convenience’ since the viewer had no other choice.

Probably the only exciting event was on Saturdays when a program called ‘Saturday Night Special’ was aired which was supposed to show an English movie. People waited the whole week for 'the movie' which was badly ripped apart by the ever so vigilant censor board, laying it a victim to its members’ “broad mindedness”. The airtime included more ads and 'Intizar Farmaye' than the movie itself.  Most viewers were patient enough to put up with this cruel test.  

The 90's saw the debut of a few local private channels such as NTN, STN etc., along with a few international news channels. This was a welcome change for the people of Pakistan and the list of channels grew steadily. As the list grew, the quality of the programs nose-dived. Both TV and the cinema industry became victims to commercialism, one of the contributing factors for the downfall of both the industries. The introduction of an uncouth, illiterate class of producers and directors in the industry with their financial stakes, did not help the industries either. Hence, the result.

Nowadays, there is no such thing as entertainment. There are so many channels to choose from, yet so few. All the channels air almost the same kind of dramas, with the same faces who can’t even act and with the same pathetic, miserable, un-intelligent storyline. Where has our intellectual lot gone?

Now for electronic journalism: news channels aren’t playing their part, either. The true essence of journalism does not seem to exist in their work. A journalist has to be unbiased and impartial but very few fall within this category. Throughout the day, discussions and interviews are aired on every channel. Most of the participants end up fighting and cursing at each other, without any intelligent and sensible outcome from the programs. It seems such programs are merely a venue for people to come and let their frustration out.

Instead of addressing issues and finding their solutions, the only agenda such programs seem to fulfil is political victimization of rivals on behalf of others. A highly paid, well-strung, over excited and over confident anchor person is placed as a host, who in most cases is a rude chatterbox who knows nothing, and answers his questions himself, most of the times. Most of the anchor persons seem to be serving the interests of others. In fact, these talk show and interviews have become a basic platform for propaganda warfare in favor of or against certain state and non-state actors.

The crux of the matter is: the electronic media after the 90’s has neither fully matured nor is it being used properly to play its part in educating, entertaining and informing people. Under Martial Law, all media is restricted and curtailed to an extreme, while during democratic governments, it’s merely used as a psychological weapon. People from good family backgrounds, strong moral characters, new ideas and, most of all, with manners and etiquettes should come to the forefront and join the media, either as venture capitalists or directly in any other capacity. We need new faces with a vision to take the country ahead by educating the masses through different kinds of media.  The media, if guided properly, can actually shape the destiny of our country.

As Abraham Lincoln once quoted: ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’. The same seems fit for the media: ‘Media of the people, by the people and for the people’.