One of the objectives of Kerry-Lugar aid bill for aid to Pakistan is to “support for promotion of a responsible, capable,and independent media.”According to this RT TV broadcast of March 10, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UQCki_nC9c , the US government planned to spend $50 million on this objective. According to another report dated Feb. 27, 2010 by the examiner , “the Obama administration plans to spend nearly $50 million on Pakistani media this year to reverse anti-American sentiments and raise awareness of projects aimed at improving quality of life, confirms a Washington insider.”
The history of collaboration between the agencies of the US government and some “ independent “ Pakistani media organizations is old. But more recently it was GEO TV that went public with jointly produced programs with Voice of America. The following press release dated Nov. 13, 2005 ( http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/pakistan/h05111301.html) of the US Embassy in Islmamabad is self-explanatory:
VOA Launches Urdu TV For Pakistan
11/13/2005 Washington, D.C. – The Voice of America (VOA) will launch Beyond the Headlines-its new television program in Urdu-on Monday, Nov. 14. The half-hour program will air on GEO TV in Pakistan at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and on selected international satellites, including AsiaSat (Virtual Channel 409) and IOR (Virtual Channel 420).Beyond the Headlines (Khabron se Aage), a fast-paced, contemporary production designed with young and urban Pakistanis in mind, will continue VOA’s 63-year tradition of broadcasting accurate and balanced information. Programs will examine international developments, technology, politics, social issues, education, religion, sports, and entertainment.”We look forward to opening this important new channel of communication between the American people and Pakistan,” said Steven J. Simmons, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees all United States international radio and television services. Simmons is chairman of the BBG’s Voice of America Committee, and has played a key role in increasing radio and TV service to Pakistan, including Beyond the Headlines. “We’re particularly delighted with our partnership with GEO TV, the leading cable/satellite broadcaster in the Urdu language,” Simmons added. “This new program, together with our expanded radio service, demonstrates our growing commitment to reach the people of Pakistan with new, engaging programs on both radio and TV.”VOA’s Urdu Service broadcasts 12 hours a day of news and information to millions of Pakistanis and other Urdu speakers on Radio Aap ki Dunyaa. The program is distributed by medium wave at 972 kHz, digital audio satellite, the Internet and a three-hour shortwave broadcast. The launch of Beyond the Headlines adds two-and-half hours of television to the Urdu Service’s weekly broadcast schedule.The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages.”
Would Mir Shakil ur Rehman of GEO TV like to disclose how much money, if any, it has received from the US government through Voice of America since November 2005? It is critically important if GEO wants to establish its independent credentials in the eyes of its viewers that it discloses the amounts it has received from the US government through VOA or any other source.
Now let’s look into the Express TV and Voice of America tie-up. A press release http://www.insidevoa.com/media-relations/press-releases/a-13-34-2010-06-30-voa6-111610594.html ) posted June 30, 2007 on the website of the Voice of America is self-explanatory:
Joint VOA-Express 24/7 Program The Platform Debuts in Pakistan
Voice of America and Pakistani cable news channel Express 24/7 aired The Platform for the first time on Monday, June 28. The 50-minute program, airing Mondays and Tuesdays in Pakistan at 11:05 p.m., is the first English-language television talk show to be jointly produced by stations in Pakistan and the U.S. The show will also be offered on the web with both live and on-demand streaming options. The Platform focuses on key issues in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship and the fight against terrorism. On Monday, Express 24/7’s Kamran Shahid was joined in Islamabad by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin. Former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri also took part. VOA’s Niharika Acharya was joined in Washington, DC by former U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and Stephen Cohen, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.The inaugural program Monday centered on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. Guests debated the historical relationship, the possibility of granting Pakistan greater access to U.S. markets, and the current bilateral relationship.The U.S. guests agreed that Pakistan’s stability is vital to U.S. interests. Ambassador Azizuddin urged the U.S. to keep in mind that, in his words, “not every tribesman is a terrorist.”Tuesday’s episode featured a debate over the U.S. military’s use of drone airplanes in Pakistan, a topic of tension between the two nations.”
Our question to the Lakhani group and management of Express TV is the same as to the GEO TV. Would Express TV like to disclose how much money, if any, it has received from the US government through Voice of America since June 2007? It is critically important if the Express TV’s wants to establish its independent credentials that it discloses the amounts it has received from the US government through VOA or any other source.
We would hate to speculate but it is unlikely that these two TV channels are working with the VOA for free or charity! It is quite probable that monies received are trickling down to journalists and broadcasters involved. In the interest of full transparency and freedom of media (the media should be free from influence of Pakistani , US, or any other government) , the viewers have a right to know the sources and extent of funding received by the media.
Would GEO and Express TV disclose how much money they have received from Americans so far?