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Performance of News Channels

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Freedom and objectivity of the media, especially which telecast national and international news, are crucial to the development of any society. Keeping this in mind, Gallup Pakistan has questioned its respondents on the subject on several occasions. This allows Gallup to assess the trust that people have on the media as well as their opinions regarding media regulation and control.
In a survey conducted in November 2005 regarding the media, 52% of the people felt that the media was not objective enough, 49% stated that they did not trust journalists, 53% trusted small media organizations more, 56% felt that media organizations were more concerned about making money and 34% asserted that they did not trust international media chains. Also, 57% of those questioned were of the view that news from across the rest of the world affects our opinions, 50% considered the media as a force for the good and 45% said that they only trusted the media which relayed opinions similar to their own views. 58% also expressed a desire for more in-depth analysis of the news.
One very important news story that the media in Pakistan covered in 2005 was the October 8 earthquake. The public’s views about the media coverage of this tragedy are an indication of the faith that they place in the media. They also tell one about the specific media’s effectiveness in delivering timely and authentic news.
92% of the people found out about this incident through television, 4% were informed by friends, 3% first read about it in newspapers and 1% found out through the radio. As far as television is concerned, most people seem to have relied on local channels rather than international ones. When asked about the channel(s) on which they had heard about the earthquake, 69% named PTV, 73% indicated towards GEO, 50% identified ARY, 27% pointed out Indus TV and 25% named Aaj TV. Relatively, only 15% named CNN and 19% identified BBC. 17% had heard about the news on the radio as compared to 83% who had not, suggesting that the radio is not a very effective medium when it comes to delivering breaking news.
Local channels also seemed to have gained an edge over international ones when the authenticity of the news was questioned. 67% of those questioned were of the view that the media was providing authentic and timely news about the earthquake and its aftermath as compared to 30% who disagreed with this opinion. When requested to name specific channels that they considered as authentic, 75% of the respondents named GEO, 59% identified PTV, 43% opted for ARY, 38% indicated towards Indus TV and 29% pointed out Aaj TV. Comparatively, 32% named BBC and 26% identified CNN.
In a survey conducted in 2006, 71% of those questioned said that they trusted television channels when seeking information, 18% trusted newspapers and magazines, 3% laid their faith in the radio, 4% believed in the internet and 1% depended on their friends.
Questions were also asked about the objectivity of the media in 2006. In response, 68% of those questioned felt that the media was not objective enough, 42% did not trust international media chains, 52% trusted small media organizations more, 43% thought that media organizations were only interested in making money and 57% claimed that they did not trust journalists. 58% of the respondents were of the view that news from across the world affects our views while 53% wanted more in-depth analysis of news. 49% considered the media to be a force for the good.
One of the possible reasons that Gallup has been able to identify for the people’s lack of faith in the media is the government’s interference in the media, resulting in the media’s lack of independence. In a poll carried out in 2007, 70% of the people strongly felt that the media should be completely independent in contrast to 19% who thought that it should function under government policies and regulations. 11% of those questioned were doubtful. However, 15% of the people believed that the media in Pakistan had too much freedom, 50% felt that it had sufficient freedom and 35% were of the opinion that it lacked necessary independence.
The people also seemed to feel that the government had a tendency of interfering in the media’s functions. The respondents were also questioned about the attack on GEO TV by the Punjab Police during the Chief Justice crisis. 88% were aware of this incident and amongst them, 73% held the government responsible for it as compared to 26% who thought that the government was not involved in the attack.
While the people’s trust in the local media seems to have revived with the onslaught of domestic private news channels, there is still much left to be desired. It seems that both the government and the journalists need to work to establish their credibility and the existing channels to need to come up with a more comprehensive and effective plan for delivering authentic and timely news.
These surveys and polls were conducted by Gallup Pakistan, an affiliate of Gallup International, on a sample of over 1100 respondents in urban areas of all four provinces of Pakistan. This sample was statistically selected across all ages, income groups and educational levels. The error for a sample of this kind is estimated to be +/- 5% at a 95% confidence level.

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