By: Rashid Sami

A significant difference between the out-going century and the in-coming one is the technology. The most important aspect of the human race, its entity and growth has been communication. With the invention of merse code, telephone radio, television and its innovated forms, the world is now termed as a global village. This village does have geographical boundaries and may restrict physical accesses but through the internet and television, races and cultures are now more familiar to one another than ever before.

Television, undoubtedly, has been a tool, not only in bringing forms, images and thought to an everlasting visible motion, it has also brought information and entertainment to a majority of people, it was John Logic Baird, a Scot, who launched television on January 26, 1926 at The Royal Institute, London. England was the first country to start television transmission in 1936. Japan and America followed in the year 1938 and 1941 respectively, whereas Libya was the first Islamic country to have set up the technology in the year 1954.

This was the time when the British Raj still reigned over the waves and used television as an effective tool, justifying and strengthening the grasp on their colonies.

In the Indian subcontinent, I 1959, television started operating in Delhi, India with a limited network. In 1964 Pakistan became the 92nd nation globally, 20th Islamic state and 17th Asian one to introduce television.

In 1955, a few days before the commencement of the 3rd International Exhibition in Karachi, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, a small studio was built and television sets were displayed at the American pavilion. Programmes telecast included Khwaja Moeenuddin’s Taleem-e-Balghan.

In 1964 Nippon Electrical Company if Japan in collaboration with Wazir Ali Engineering Karachi started television operations in Pakistan. It was suggested in the initial report that two pilot television stations should be launched in Lahore and Dhaka on 90 days a test period. As a post-launch arrangements, an office and studio for the television pilot project was put up at the compounds of Radio Pakistan, Lahore. The price of the TV sets was increased from Rs. 900 to Rs. 2500-3000. the second pilot project was launched in Dhaka on 25th December, 1964.

Television proved to be a useful tool as morale booster and information medium in the 1965 war and hence gained popularity as a useful news medium.

On May 6, 1966, Central aata was the first serial with eight episodes telecast on December 27, 1964. Ashfaq Ahmed wrote this serial.
In the beginning it was the literate always which migrated from radio and theatre to television, Z. A. Bukhari, Aslam Azhar, Iftikhat Arif, Fazal Kamal, Doctor Anwar Sajjad, Salim Ahmed, Ashfaq Ahmed, Bano Qudisa 80s and even the 90s, in 1976 colour television made its way into Pakistan.

This was also the time when Ghazanfar Ali launched private production dramas through Combine, formed in 1981. Initially private production started in the morning transmission. Music Channel was the first pop music programme by private producers in PTV and covered by Eastern Eye, a BBC programme on Eastern music.

1991 was the year when a first private television channel was launched by the private sector. Tahir A Khan with a background in the advertising industry launched NTM with the introduction of NTM people living in selfish power masters who repeatedly failed us and could never see beyond their baradari or personal booty in the last fifty-two years.

In the early 90s, CNN brought international electronic journalism to our mini-screen followed by series of other news channels at our fingertips and our craving for escapism from reality gave way to a further mistrust in our system. The bureaucratic stagnation and the satellite enhanced our identity crisis. Whereas India, with its ominous ambitions, poverty and all its ugly realities stood out as the most liberal and progressive nation, thanks to visit media and its 38 channels supported by an advertising revenue of over 7000 crores. A lone PTV2 (now renamed PTV World) cannot counter the massive media onslaught now going beyond our region into America and Europe. The Indian army in Kargil did not defeat us; it was our media masters at that time that tailed us within and outside our borders.

The present managing director of PTV may have managed a substantial comeback in the monetary aspect but a 1one marketing genius cannot run the affairs of a sensitive media organization in an equally volatile situation. Foreign channels aside, PTV with its 9,200 employees with 340 producers at PTV could not meet the challenge by Weekend World and Teleworld who superseded the state owned network in viewer-ship rating.

Zee refutes allegations as being biased against Pakistan and yet terms Kashmir as an Indian part. Now After the Hindi, Marathi and Bengali channels, the Indian’s plans are to surge ‘Zee Urdu’ into our system. With its insurgent intentions this channel, if supported by the power players in Islamabad, would wipeout even the remains of a cultural and media identity.

It is on records of a school in Defence Housing Authority that while taking his Islamiyat test a ten-year-old describes Wahi as to have vishwas in God.

The only solution lies in liberalizing our policies and supporting the private sector. If Sri Lanka has 6 channels why can’t we have more channels. The government should scrutinize organizations with expertise, experience and the infrastructure and support them inside and abroad. Up-linking station should be put-up in Pakistan and financial institutions in the media business which at present has a revenue of over 400 crores to support it.

Let’s enter the new millennium such a positive approach.