[아시아엔=나시르 아이자즈 <아시아엔> 파키스탄 지사장] 지난 15년간 파키스탄의 언론산업은 전례 없는 성장을 이루었다. 그리고 파키스탄 언론은 지금 정부에 대한 감시·비판 역할을 주도하고 있다.
이런 괄목할 만한 성장은 주로 디지털미디어에 집중되어 있다. 1947년 독립 당시 파키스탄에는 영자신문 2개와 우르드어 신문을 제외하고는 전부 사기업 소유였으며 라디오방송국은 정부가 운영하였다. 1967년 처음으로 국영 TV방송국이 개국했으며, 2001년까지는 민영방송국이 한곳도 없었다. 따라서 파키스탄 국민들은 민간기업이 발행하는 신문은 접할 수는 있었지만 그보다 훨씬 영향력이 큰 TV에서는 독립적인 뉴스 정보를 얻을 수 없었다.
2002년 무샤라프 장군의 군사정부 출범 후 처음으로 민영 TV채널이 등장하면서 이후 주요 언론사들은 우후죽순격으로 TV채널을 갖기 시작했다. 파키스탄에서 정치문제를 다루는 채널 영향력은 매우 크다. 시청자들은 24시간 방영하는 채널을 통해 원하는 정보를 언제든지 얻을 수 있다. 이에 따라 정치인들은 국회에서 대정부 질의나 법안 발의보다 TV 출연에 더 목매고 있다.
영향력이 막강해진 언론 덕분에 파키스탄 사회 역시 긍정적인 변화·발전을 이루고 있다. 소수 엘리트에 유리하게 적용되던 제반 사회 시스템이 이제 일반대중의 이해관계에 주목하고 있게 됐으며, 정부는 보통사람들의 요구에 보다 귀를 기우리게 된 것이다.
파키스탄의 독립언론 출현은 투명하고 공정한 사회 실현에도 매우 긍정적으로 작용하고 있다. 하지만 이제 시작에 불과하다. 파키스탄 언론이 넘어야 할 산은 한두개가 아니기 때문이다.
파키스탄 언론 개황
현재 파키스탄 미디어는 비즈니스에 주력하는 한편 일부 권력지향적인 면도 드러내고 있다. 신문사들은 낮은 가격으로 판매부수를 늘리는 대신 부수는 줄더라도 신문값을 높이는 방향으로 전략을 세우고 있다.
TV채널의 경우 타 방송국의 프로그램을 베끼는 일이 잦아 시청자들의 불만을 사고 있다. 게다가 제대로 훈련 안 된 앵커나 리포터의 등장으로 신뢰를 잃는 경우도 있다. 신문 콘텐츠의 질은 점점 떨어져 팩트 확인이나 정확한 인용 없이 주장이나 의견을 내보기도 한다. 과거 신문들은 뉴스는 정확한 팩트에 근거해 기사의 형식으로 보도됐으나 지금은 개인의 私見을 마치 사실인 양 둔갑시켜 보도하는 경향이 늘고 있다. 뉴스의 객관성·공정성·형평성의 위기가 지금 파키스탄의 저널리즘을 훼손하는 주범으로 꼽히고 있다.
불과 10여년 전 만해도 파키스탄 언론은 정부의 통제 하에 있었다. 특히 군사정권 시대에는 국가 정체성 확립과 통일된 정부 입장 표명을 위한 수단으로 활용되곤 했다.
하지만 그러한 난관 속에서도 파키스탄 언론인들은 2001년 개정된 언론 관련법을 통해 보도의 자유를 누릴 수 있게 됐다. 그것은 이후 공권력에 맞서 정치적 영향력을 키우는 밑거름이 되기도 했다.
현재 파키스탄에는 민영 위성방송국 89곳, FM라디오방송국 115곳이 있다. 우르두어, 신드어, 펀잡어, 파시토어, 발로키어, 시라이키어 등의 언어로 뉴스에서 드라마, 코미디 쇼까지 다양한 프로그램을 방영하고 있다.
Pakistan Media Landscape
By Nasir Aijaz
The last one and half a decade has seen an unprecedented growth in the media industry in Pakistan. Today it has become a powerful actor and is playing the role of a watchdog keeping an eye on the pillars of the State.
This explosive growth had been mainly concentrated within the electronic media. At the time of independence in 1947, the country had only few radio stations run by the State while the print media was owned by private sector except one or two English and Urdu dailies. In 1967, the TV stations were first time established by the government. Till 2001, television in Pakistan was solely owned by the government. The dissemination of news and information was the prerogative of the State broadcaster- Pakistan Television (PTV). Pakistani viewers had little or no access to independent news sources, with the possible exception of newspapers that were privately owned and reported independently; but their reach was significantly less than that of television.
The military regime of Gen. Musharraf opened up the Pakistani airwaves after coming to power and the first privately-owned and operated TV channel was launched in 2002. Since then, there has been a mushrooming of channels, with almost all major media houses and newspaper owners establishing their own TV outlets. The genres of channels include news, entertainment, music, sports, cooking and even health.
But the news and current affairs channels have had the most profound impact on national politics. With round-the-clock news, views and analysis beaming into millions of homes, Pakistanis are now bombarded with information every minute of every day. This constant flow of information has had a tremendous impact on increasing awareness among the population and has provided them the opportunity to hear every point of view. It has also brought governments under scrutiny as live broadcasts relay information across the country and exposes official shortcomings, blunders and excesses without fear or favour.
The result is a much more transparent system where anything and everything is open to question and scrutiny. Media competition over attracting a larger viewership has led to the pursuit of increased accountability of politicians, as well as state institutions, who are answerable to the public for all doings.
A majority of Pakistanis now get their news from television. In many ways, politicians now prefer to come and speak on TV rather than deliver speeches in the parliament or political rallies. In fact, TV has become the strongest opinion-forming platform and political parties and state institutions have realized that it is through this medium that they must build perceptions and market their performance. As a consequence, political stakeholders have been forced to adjust to an age where they are increasingly becoming answerable to the public. Media, it seems, is now driving the national agenda.
In every respect, the rise of a strong media is a healthy development for Pakistan. It has strengthened civil society, held traditional power centers accountable, has given voice to the silent majority and reined in any excesses of the State. The media has brought certain equilibrium to a society which was traditionally skewed heavily in favour of the elite. It has altered national discourse in favour of the common Pakistani and directed the State’s attention to the needs and compulsions of the common man on the street.
Through the rise of the independent media, we are seeing the contours of a new and evolving society demanding greater transparency and a level playing field for all, regardless of their official status. It may take a while to achieve this, but the journey, it seems, has begun. The media is the engine that is forcing this welcome change in Pakistan.
Today media is dominated by the electronic medium instead of print, and people use to form their opinions through what is shown on television and other electronic media. Thus they have a formed opinion even before the print media reaches them leading the print media to ape the electronic. Interestingly, this dilemma has been resolved by making the electronic media a monopoly of print media whereby all major electronic channels have their own newspapers.
Today’s media is either more commercial, business-oriented or power oriented. The newspapers now competed on the number of pages they printed and their aim had shifted from mass circulation through low prices to lower circulation at higher prices resulting in a greater reliance on television as advertisement rates on television were much higher than in newspapers.
Media should draw upon the intellectual and creative resources in society else it would have a very narrow base to work with. This explained the narrow base of Pakistani media as it had failed to draw upon literature, academics and intellectual pursuits. To make matters worse, all television channels had started copying one another without considering their individual requirements and creative input. For instance, if one channel started a talk show, everyone else would also start one without considering whether it suited the objective and purpose of the channel. Additionally, lack of proper training of anchors and reporters had also been detrimental to electronic media’s performance.
There had also been a steady decline in the quality of newspapers as number of commentators in a newspaper had become the benchmark of its success. Opinions were stated without factual basis or proper referencing. No newspaper except one in Pakistan had a reference library in comparison to 1963 when all had reference libraries. The old school of thought in Pakistani media was that all news had to be factual and opinions were to be found only in opinion columns. Today’s newspapers however contained opinions in the news columns leading to biased and subjective reporting. Another reason for the decline of quality of analyses in newspapers was that the reading public had gradually become less discerning and critical about content.
Historically, Pakistani media’s relationship with the state had been “one of intimidation and control”. Broadly speaking, Pakistani political landscape consisted of the military, civilian bureaucracy, and provincial leaders with the military being the most dominant power. Media had been a tool for the government, especially for the military to build a national identity and propagate “a unified national position on domestic and foreign policy issues”. In addition to the political ties, the media’s financial structure makes the industry vulnerable to their control, as the industry relied heavily on government and private sector advertising revenue.
Despite all the shortcomings, Pakistan has a vibrant media landscape thanks to the media reform law that liberalized the sector in 2001. Since the reform, the media has been establishing its reputation as an alternate political force in Pakistan by providing a platform for public grievances on many issues. According to the data, Pakistanis currently has 89 privately-owned satellite television channels and 115 FM radio stations. These channels air diverse programs from news and soap operas to political satire/comedy shows in different languages including Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto and Siraiki.