Print media able to survive in competitive environment: PM
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf Wednesday said that being opinion makers, journalists are better positioned to remove misunderstandings and help build an atmosphere of peace and friendship among the countries of the Saarc region.
Addressing the South Asia Media Summit at Pak-China Friendship Building, the prime minister complimented All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) for organising the event. He welcomed the delegates and practitioners of media from the Saarc countries. He said since digital revolution swept, there has been a debate on whether print media will be able to remain competitive and relevant in a world where news is disseminated instantaneously.
“I believe that this moot is of enormous importance. The selection of the summit’s theme ‘The Role of Newspapers in an Evolving Media Ecosystem’ is apt as it has afforded a unique opportunity to the icons of media to share their ideas and experiences and related challenges,” he added.
He said that globalisation has woven different regions and continents of the world in a global village. “We have far greater stakes in our collective well-being than was the case in the past. Being integrated regionally as well as globally is not a matter of choice but of necessity. Globalisation of thought and culture has altered the way we look at the world around us,” he maintained.
He opined that unresolved political disputes are undermining the potential of region to emerge as a robust economic grouping. He said that if the people and their welfare are at the heart of public policy, it is important that process of conflict resolution is initiated in line with people’s aspirations and canons of international justice. “Heavy responsibility rests on the shoulders of leaderships of the region to show statesmanship, vision and courage to resolve the differences,” he added.
The PM said Pakistan attaches great importance to Saarc and has fervently supported the principles and objectives of its charter. “We believe that Saarc has a great potential to become a model of regional cooperation. We have played our role in this regard and are ready to go the extra mile,” he opined. He said media not only represents the values of a society, defends and projects them but also contributes to its intellectual development.
“It has the ability to change perceptions, attitudes and beliefs of the people that consequently empower their minds to develop rational and realistic responses to the challenges in their lives. Media has become a soft power with the potential to embrace all aspects of the lives of the nations,” he added.
The prime minister said media is a bulwark of fundamental rights and human liberties and acts as a watchdog against any excesses by the government. “It should, however, remain within the bounds of moral and professional ethics, respect social values and adhere to the regulatory mechanism in place lest it encourages chaos in the society,” he suggested. “Media can enjoy its freedom only in a democratic dispensation and democracy can flourish in an environment where media enjoys independence. They are indispensable as well as integral with each other,” he added.
The premier said the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has an abiding commitment to freedom of expression. “The process of facilitating media in Pakistan started during the first government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto when the system of newsprint quota which was used as a ploy to gag the media was done away with,” he maintained.
He said the present PPP government, immediately after taking over, annulled the black laws promulgated by the outgoing dictator designed to curb media freedom. He said media enjoys complete freedom in Pakistan and is contributing to the strengthening of democracy in the country. “I would like to assure this distinguished gathering that the present democratic government would continue to protect media freedom and facilitate it in every possible manner,” he assured.
The prime minister appreciated the role played by APNS in promoting people-to-people contact among South Asian countries and hoped that the visiting delegates will enjoy their stay in Islamabad. He hoped that they will take back pleasant memories. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira was also present on the occasion.
Former Information Minister Javed Jabbar stressed the need for media to bring closer the people of Pakistan and India.
“The people of both the countries loved each other but their media is still hostile. It should not be the case as the media can reduce the distances and differences,” he said.
Javed Jabbar was of the opinion that trade is not enough to resolve conflicts. “Trade between two countries is must but other conflicting issue should also be resolved.”
He praised Amn ki Asha initiative by Jang Group and Times of India group and dubbed it a positive step to reduce gaps between the two peoples.
Jabbar said: “Now the media is not fourth but the first pillar of state.”
In his opening remarks, APNS President Sarmad Ali said the summit was delayed because of long march of Dr Tahirul Qadri. He said media was the largest growing industry all over the world. He said in Pakistan, media was living in today while they need to change this mindset and start thinking for tomorrow.
Subash Chandra said now print media, electronic media and online media believe that they are the best but should remember that everyone have their pockets and should work together for a better goal.
“If you don’t do it today, you will be left behind,” he said. He emphasised on the speed and accuracy which is very important in journalism and if any media does not realise its importance, it will become a tale of the past.
Subash said in 1992 he started ZEE TV and then never look back and kept on working till making it the largest network of the world.
Annurag Batra said ideas were always powerful and they could bring a change.
Times of India Chief Executive Officer Ravi Dhariwal said the youth wanted to remain abreast of information. He said importance of the print was growing day by day. “The newspaper does not belong to the publisher or the editor but the reader. Any publisher or editor was never more important than the reader. The issues that media takes up make it important,” he said.
J Gopi Krishan, Saadia Sharif, Vijitha Yapa, and Umar Shami took part in the discussion on Redefining the role of Newspaper, moderated by Chitralekha Group President and Publisher Mitrajit Bhattacharya.
Shami said a study has indicated that 2.5 billion people read newspapers. He said Google is one of the biggest publishers in the world. He said readers wanted to be part of news, giving their feedback on different matters.
Saadia Sharif, Director Marketing of The News, said mobile phones were new means of information and not replacement of other media.
Vijitha Yapa said some newspapers give importance to photos and now this trend is being adopted in Asia.
Taher A Khan, Masood Hashmi, Masood Hamid and Ravi Dhariwal took part in discussion on You Only Live Twice – Innovative Marketing Tools, moderated by Krishna Prasad, editor-in-chief of Outlook.
The panelists said newspapers should adopt all marketing tools for advertisement.
Ravi Dhariwal, Times of India CEO, said readers like innovations in the advertisement.
Audience witnessed lively panel discussions on “Redefining and Recognising the Role of Media through the Eyes of the Youth” and “Are Regional Newspapers Better Equipped to Stave off Threats from Other Media.”
Dr Jabbar Khattak, who is Editor-in-Chief of daily Awami Awaaz, said the regional papers in Sindh in Sindhi language were very effective and had very good circulation.
Syed Fasih Iqbal, the publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Balochistan Times, pointed out that while big media groups were in large cities and some non-professionals are also joining the field, the regional papers had to rely on the federal government for ads. He recalled though there was a time when he published even ads of a Swiss watch.