Lopsided TV coverage to ‘favourite’ political parties
ISLAMABAD- Notwithstanding the government’s claim of holding free, fair and impartial elections, the state-owned electronic media is giving maximum coverage to election campaign of Pakistan Muslim League (Q), followed by five parties’ religious alliance, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, an independent study said.
The PML (Q), whose election meetings are graced by Punjab governor Khalid Maqbool, got more time and prominence than the combined coverage received by two former ruling parties, People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (N) at PTV.
The PML (Q) got a total of almost 15 minutes on the PTV during the period from Sept 10 to 23. During the same period PPP, which has fielded the highest number of candidates (230) on 272 general seats of National Assembly for the Oct 10 polls, got only five minutes and 53 seconds.
The report published by Liberal Forum, quoting the final list published by the Election Commission said PML(Q) has fielded candidates on 193 seats.
Although there is no set criteria that how much coverage any single party should get on the public service medium, in functional democracies due weightage is given to the parties that had a strong presence in the previous parliament, it noted.
However, it observed that in Pakistan the elections are being held after three-year of military rule, the number of candidates fielded by any party can serve as the yardstick.
The Grand National Alliance (GNA) and its’ constituent parties got four minutes and 54 seconds.
Among others PML (N) got coverage for four minutes and 31 seconds, Muttahida Qaumi Movement three minutes and 26 seconds, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf two minutes and 44 seconds, PPP (Sherpao) two minutes and 26 seconds, Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party together with Balochistan National Party two minutes and 20 seconds, Awami National Party one minute and 34 seconds, Pakistan Awami Tehrik one minute and 23 seconds, Pakistan Muslim League (F) one minute and 11 seconds, Pakistan Muslim League (Zia) one minute and three seconds, Tehrik-i-Istaqlal 45 minutes, National Awami Party, 39 seconds, Alliance for Restoration of Democracy and Qaumi Jamhoree Party 36 seconds each, PPP (Shaheed Bhutto) 26 seconds, Balochistan National Congress, 25 seconds and Pakistan Gharib Party seven seconds.
The candidates from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) got two minutes and 45 seconds. The only independent candidate Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad from Rawalpindi was able to make it to the Khabarnama for 49 seconds.
The candidates belonging to minorities and women got coverage within the time accorded to the above-mentioned political parties. In the last fortnight the PPP also got adverse coverage on the PTV.