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WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MEDIA INDUSTRY CRISIS: GOVERNMENT OR OWNERS OF MEDIA HOUSES?

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MEDIA INDUSTRY CRISIS: GOVERNMENT OR OWNERS OF MEDIA HOUSES?

LAHORE: Is the government responsible for the crisis in the media industry. Why the newspapers and TV channels are not receiving advertisement? Why was Midas Advertising Agency Chairman Inam Akbar arrested? Facts are revealed by senior analysts, journalist organisations and people affiliated with the advertisement industry.

Senior journalist and owner of the Pakistan Today newspaper Arif Nizami says the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arbitrary laws for arrest. “It summoned Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif in the Saaf Pani case but arrested him in the Ashiana Housing Scheme scandal,” he elaborates. Former Federal Information Secretary Taimoor Azmat Usman says a large number of people lost their jobs when the Waqt TV channel was shut down. “The government should have looked into the issue. The situation does not favour anybody,” he added. Former Information Secretary Rashid Chaudhry said Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry wanted to eliminate the role of advertisement agencies between the government and media houses. “However, he must understand the Press Information Department (PID) lacks capacity to fill the role of the advertisement agencies,” he added.

Renowned investigative journalist Asad Kharal says Midas Advertising Agency Chairman Inam Akbar had a tussle with Naveed Qamar, son of the then NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman, who run an advertisement firm, and as a result, Inam Akbar was arrested by the NAB. “Naveed Qamar had taken away many ads from Inam Akbar’s firm and when the latter resisted to another advertisement, he was arrested,” he explains.

Senior journalist Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami says if owners of advertisement agencies were arrested without any reason, their businesses would be affected. “In the situation, who will fill the gap and provide advertisement to the media industry?” Noted journalist Umar Cheema reminded the government of its promise to provide 10m jobs. “Instead, it has deprived thousands of people of their jobs in the media industry by targeting owners of media houses and advertisement agencies,” he regretted.

Renowned journalist Zaheer Babar says Inam Akbar was arrested in a fake case. “He was implicated in a case, in which many others were also involved. All should be arrested or he be released,” he demanded. Former Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan believes the media industry was suffering from weaknesses in its base and it would suffer more losses in future. Noted analyst Orya Maqbool Jan says the new policy of the government would force an accountant of a newspaper to spend the whole day in the AG office to get cheques signed.

Noted anchor Asma Sherazi said many people had lost their jobs in the media industry after the government slashed advertisements. “The government should have taken measures to prevent people from losing their jobs,” she added. Senior anchor Junaid Saleem said the government could probe corruption in government ads in days but it should not have arrested innocent people because of corruption of politicians.

Senior analyst Arif Hameed Bhatti says the media houses would shut down if the new advertisement scheme of the government was enforced. “The media houses will have to pay over 60pc of advertisement payment to the bureaucracy. It will worsen the media industry crisis and result in more job losses,” he added.

Known analyst Siddique Jan said most owners had set up media houses to cover up their crimes and evade taxes. “When the PTI government opened their files of corruption and tax evasion, they started sacking people from their business to crease a crisis-like situation,” he observed. Former Lahore Press Club President Azam Chaudhry said Bol media group chairman Shoaib Sheikh was arrested without any proof and later he was released by the FIA. “The same is case with Inam Akbar. These incidents have not only damaged their reputation in society but also the media industry,” he observed.