Meher Bokhari and the Future of Pakistani Media

Jan 25th, 2011 | By | Category: PEMRA, Samaa TV

Meher Bokhari

Meher Bokhari’s story should be a permanent fixture in journalism school as a warning to those future media stars who might be tempted to sacrifice all consideration of ethics, responsibility, and the safety of others for a boost in ratings and personal careers. The final chapter in Bokhari’s story has not been written, though, and how it plays out could have lasting effects on the media industry.

Meher Bokhari has found drawn a bit of attention to herself, though probably not for reasons she had dreamed. The Samaa TV talk show host raised eyebrows during her interview with Salmaan Taseer last November during which she fought with the Governor, accusing him of undermining justice and fanning the flames of religious hatred by questioning the blasphemy laws. Meher even read a fatwa against the Governor on the air.

Two months later, Governor Taseer was shot to death by one of his guards in Islamabad who claims he committed the act because of the Governor’s criticism of the blasphemy laws. Bokhari infamously followed the Governor’s murder with a programme on 5 January that asked if the confessed gunman Mumtaz Qadri is hero or terrorist.

It should be noted that this was not the first time that Meher Bokhari had projected extremist views, rather she regularly hosted guests including Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi who is a leader of banned terrorist organization Sipah-e-Sahaba.

On 11 January, PEMRA imposed a fine of Rs.1 Million on Samaa TV for projecting terrorists. One week later, Meher Bokhari was conspicuously missing from the set of last night’s News Beat, Farieha Idrees appearing in her place. This did not go unnoticed by media watchers, and some are saying that News Beat host has been sacked by Samaa TV, though we have not been able to obtain official confirmation at this time. There are also rumours that Bokhari has been offered a show at Express along with an increase in pay, but again these remain only rumours.

Rumours notwithstanding, what eventually happens with Meher Bokhari is of interest, however, as it will send two important signals to Pakistan’s media groups: The most important being whether PEMRA is a watch dog with no teeth, but also whether the media chiefs are willing to reward a TV anchor who exploits religion to boost ratings. Depending on the signal sent, we could see significant changes in the way media approaches sensitive topics.

If Meher Bokhari gets a raise following a large PEMRA fine, TV anchors will see her as an example of how to advance their careers: pander to the extremist gallery and exploit religious sentiments while shouting your way to the top. Media chiefs likewise will see that the government’s regulatory body is toothless and will ignore warnings and fines as they attempt to boost ratings by outdoing each other with more and more outrageous programming.

On the other hand, Meher Bokhari could serve as a warning for up and coming journalists and producers who learn that there are red lines that are not crossed in civilized discourse. Any temptation towards fatwa baiting would have to be weighed against losing one’s job and reputation in the industry and we might even see the public discourse come to settle at a more moderate level.

As Meher Bokhari’s story continues to be revealed, its final chapter will tell much about the future of Pakistani media.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment »

  1. […] more from the original source: Meher Bokhari and the Future of Pakistani Media | Pakistan Media Watch This entry was posted in Media and tagged being-whether, bokhari, media, meher, meher-bokhari, […]

  2. Meher Bokhari merely did her job: questioned and probed the late Governer’s stance on blasphemy laws.
    If you see her show again and carefully and without prejudice and malicious hate this time -you
    Will understand and be able to appreciate the fact that she infact was simply asking the questions that they masses were asking and
    She did NOT do anything that other noteworthy anchors did not in fact do themselves in their respective interviews with
    The late Governer. The famous show with Qdari’s tagline on Jan 5th was again a rhetorical question and a free analysis
    Of what the masses were thinking. It was in NO way her own opnion. That being said: Meher Bokhari is an upright and honest anchor and Pakistan
    Should be proud to have such people in its media industry. She has NOT been fired from Samaa TV and that is valid truth which will come out.

  3. Whether the Media is doing the right job today? I think no, Exaggeration of the news is constantly done by some in this field just to gain advantages over their competitors. They are giving “breaking news” just for the sake of giving without entering into this vital question; will it be useful for people? Sometimes, just for minting money insignificant news is given so much priority by some channels that the real news is not even brought into the notice of the public. It was unfortunate that the part of media, a profession of passion, has now converted itself into a corporate entity that understands the language of economics only. I think a responsible and honest media builds a healthy society. Its a fact that media is the most powerful weapon in today’s time to expose and let people know about any wrong political economic or social deed but currently, the way media is dealing with all these factors it would not at all be wrong to say that “media has become irresponsible”. I am not saying that media is keeping us in dark by not letting us to know the truth but it is being projected in front of the society without keeping in mind the ethical value, is really a matter to ponder upon. However, we live in such an era today in which both journalists and the public even in the most developed countries like UK and United States are still struggling to reach a consensus on what constitutes good journalism. It’s no longer enough for journalists themselves to think they are doing a good job.

  4. After getting freedom from Musharraf regime, up till now, media could not frame any policy or even highlighted the basic principles for any policy. Even after this hue and cry of media the common people have seen no effects and relief. Pakistani media will have to change its perspective. Otherwise the way Pakistanis prefer to watch Indian channels and movies, they will also prefer to listen to others voices. Pakistani media must keep it in mind that now the world is a global village, once Pakistani public viewpoint is changed the world media will rush to Pakistan to capture the market of advertisements.

  5. […] we have looked at two subjects that might seem unrelated, but actually have quite a bit in common: Meher Bokhari’s treatment of Salmaan Taseer and the theory of ‘Amusing ourselves to death’. These two seemingly unrelated items are […]

  6. […] and offered even larger jahez for the tainted bride’s hand. This blog wrote at the time that such an event would send a negative signal to media. If Meher Bokhari gets a raise following a large PEMRA fine, TV anchors will see her as an example […]

  7. In most cases, like this one you discuss, Pakistani media materializes the phrase ‘yellow journalism’.

  8. […] اور محر بخاری کے اس رؤیے کو پاکستان میڈیا واچ پہلے ہی ایکسپوز تو کر چکا ھے مگر سوچنے والی بات یہ ھے کہ اس طرح کے تنظ […]

Leave Comment