Advertisement & News Breaks On TV Channels In Pakistan

September 19, 2007

Breaking news? Latest news? Updates? And in Urdu: braking noos, taaza khabar, or taaza khabrain, soorkhian?

I don't know if there is a PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) guideline on how many commercial and non-commercial breaks a TV station is allowed per hour. And if they do, how are they enforced.

I don't know if the major players like ARY or GEO have their own internal guidelines.


I am sure of one thing: the engineer, producer or director who inserts these 'breaks' has no idea of the juncture, time, or propriety for these insertions. They display an utter disregard for the hapless viewer.

This affliction is displayed nonchalantly across the board. PTV and other licensees routinely break into Mushy's telecast. Serious deliberations on the 'deal' — alright, pontifications — by earnest sounding pundits are rudely interrupted by these irritating breaks on all channels. And the viewer, the one who was glued to to the programme is left wondering what the duck .

What is more disconcerting is that these interruptions bring only news that is seldom newsworthy of a break.

On a nationally aired programme what is the worth of a break informing of a car and truck accident in Ceechawatani in which five of a family, mother, uncle and three children were injured? Go fetch the father please!

What suspense is created when a shouting politician is interrupted in mid sentence, "Nawaz Sharif is a..." with a breaking news that repeats a 17 hours old news item, "There is still no news of the 250 Frontier Constabulary Jawans missing in South Waziristan" and this break is brought to you by Finest Stainless Spoons - -FSS nearest your lips?" And after this irritating break you return to the anchors and guests now laughing. What did we miss? Is Nawaz a joker? Or the ... Khair, janay diji'aye!

We know commercials pay for the station's subsistence. But for how long will these stations and outlets continue to ignore the viewer?

How soon will a budding entrepreneur realize there is a niche for commercial free programming like NPR or PBS? (A mix of public funding plus public subscription service?)

And would anyone know why soorkh, (meaning red) is used in Urdu as soorkhi for the heading which is usually in black and white?

love people who are in awe of words. words are the sole arbiter and the final survivor. desicritic editor, slave and slave-driver.
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September 19, 2007
09:16 PM

Well said Temporal! My cable TV connection had been having some problems off late and I was left to "watch" some of Pakistan's earlier matches in the Twenty 20 World Cup over Radio, and you can trust me that the situation there in terms of foolishly timed advertisements breaks was even worse. Actually, its rather misleading to call those draconian things advertisement "breaks", because its more like the actual show is happening in a time frame of a "break" while the commercials enjoy seemingly the majority of the airtime.

And its most annoying when you actually have the same ad running over and over again each break. I find it odd that marketing professionals haven't realized to date that such persistent marketing can actually be turning off for consumers (at least the less patients one like me!) instead of being helpful.

The worst case of such overdose is the "this time check is brought to you by XYZ company" idea. It was kind of okay when it happened for special times of the day, say one at noon, one at six, at a nine and the other at midnight, but now you have seemingly one time check every other 15 minutes or so! For a nation that is yet to learn the value of time, this is quite an ironic thing to happen.

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