The Pakistan Electronic Media Authority’s (PEMRA) move to send a notice to NewsOne over the abuse hurled at Marvi Sirmed, an analyst by Hafiz Hamdullah deserves a mixed reaction.PEMRA has charged the channel responsible for failing on two counts.
On one level, the host is deemed responsible for failing to control her guests intentionally.
And on the other, the show was not aired live, and hence did not need to feature the altercation.
The first charge may be a bit harsh, considering the footage does show the host trying to calm the situation, but it also shows her failing, to a point where Ms Sirmed could have been physically attacked, which is absolutely inexcusable – not to mention to verbal expletives that were hurled in her direction.
For this, the TV channel must have an answer.Channels have a responsibility to protect their guests, and not look to increase ratings at the expense of their physical or emotional harm.
Hafiz Hamdullah’s actions and words have proved beyond a doubt that he is a misogynist, prone to defending to clerics even when they are in the wrong purely out of spite, if nothing else.
While the recording could definitely have been moderated, allowing the public to see it opens their eyes to the reaction of the clergy every time they are criticised.
It also gives Ms Sirmed incontrovertible proof of the abuse and threat of assault levelled against her in the most unexpected of places, considering that principally, the objective of these shows is to debate, and not literally go for the jugular each time an opponent scores a valid point.
But all of that having been said, PEMRA, as a regulatory body is justified in wondering why this fight was aired if the show was not live.
What happened in this show is unforgivable, but also not unexpected given the nature of the talk shows that the public is almost addicted to as well as the patriarchy’s embedded violence.
Talk show hosts regularly invite people that spew vitriol given the least opportunity, and then pit them against their vocal opponents with little or no moderation.
The brutal truth is that the media thrives on such content, and relishes the opportunity to add drama to affairs that should be discussed in the most serious of ways.
PEMRA’s duty then should be to look to restructure this inherently flawed system, instead of charging channels after the instance of misconduct has already taken place.The objective should be to prevent, not react.