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Sensationalism in Pakistani News Channels: A downside of media deregulation?

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One of the most dynamic in South Asia, Pakistan’s vibrant and outspoken media is de facto credited to the media liberalization policies of 2002 by President Pervez Musharraf. Yet, the country’s media landscape, particularly the private news channels, are known to be sensational for their exaggerated reporting style. Using Pakistan’s two mainstream news channels, Geo News and BOL TV, as case studies, this research digs deeper into the history and establishment of private TV channels to show how 2002’s media deregulation is connected to the present sensational nature of the country’s broadcast industry. The paper discusses socio-political motives behind Musharraf’s privatization of media and uses critical cultural studies to examine the industry and messages of Geo and BOL. The paper concludes how the rapid mushrooming of private TV channels in Pakistan created an industry that had little time and resources to train its media personnel or establish a set code of conduct and ethical journalistic practices. As reflected through Geo and BOL, the fierce competition among the fast growing TV channels to be first and highest-ranked has pushed them to adopt vivid aesthetics of yellow journalism, use audacious content and format, and blur the line between entertainment and news. While socio-political motives behind Musharraf’s liberalization policies are commonly discussed in existing scholarship, this paper connects them to the content and format of Pakistani news channels. The research exhibits unique ways in which the deregulation of media, often brought about by globalization and democratization of the industry, can result in undesired consequences.

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  • 04/20/2018
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