In the last post, I gave our readers a brief intro of the media scene in Pakistan. Now IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll like to have some dissecting actions taking place on the media industry of Pakistan. Before embarking on a long and arduous journey on analyzing the TV industry, let us have a go at the Radio scene, FM Radio to be more precise, in Pakistan. The traditional AM radio was literally dead in Pakistan by early nineties. The urban listeners were fed up with the old-fashioned type of entertainment that was and still is the hallmark of Radio Pakistan.
Braving all the above mentioned grim realities of radio scene in Pakistan, the first FM channel of Pakistan, FM 100, was launched in 1995. This channel revolutionized the radio scene of Pakistan. Targeting the young and urban population, FM 100 gained massive listeners base in a few months. The people who were sick of traditional radio switched over to FM because the a) the content was new and pop-oriented (b) the interactive style with live call in really caught peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attention and the DJ phenomena was also warmly accepted by the urban masses
To cut the long story short, the bureaucracy at the Radio Pakistan decided to launch a Sarkari FM channel, FM 101, in 1998 to curb the growing popularity of FM 100. Since 2001, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen a massive growth of FM channels all over Pakistan. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been estimated by the government that there will be more than 140 FM channels operating in Pakistan, by the end of this year. Now FM listening has become a habit of many Pakistani urbanites irrespective of their economic standings. In fact itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s become almost impossible to not listen to FM channels while driving. The FM mobiles have further broadened the listenersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ base of these channels. I must say that urbanites have become sort of addicted to FM mania.
As they say, quantity and quality are two opposite sides of a coin, so same is the case with these FM channels. Only a few of them stand out in quality. First letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s have a look at the sub-categories of these FM channels. The most popular ones are indeed the entertainment FM channels. The second one deals with community based channels. The community based channels mostly cater to the educational institutions and NGOs. We also have some sectarian based FM channels (of course operating illegally) in the tribal areas, which are a great mess for national security.
This post mainly deals with the entertainment based channels. Although weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen a tremendous growth in this industry but there is still a huge room for improvement. As per the international norms, Pakistani FM channels also cater to different social and economic groups of Pakistan. First we have the hi-fi FM channels which mostly cater to the elite and the professional classes. City FM 89 is the most notable one with its crisp programming and popularity among the target audiences. Some of its programs especially Cloud 89 has garnered international repute for their socio-political content and innovative concepts. There are some critics too who think that the moderator of the program, Hameed Haroon a.k.a Red Baron tries to force his own ideology on the interviewees. Radio Active 96 is another elite channel catering mostly to the young generation.
Radio One FM 91 is a channel with broader listenersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ base. It caters both to the desi as well as vilayati music lovers. The content and style makes this channel one of the most popular ones among all the urbanites. Then there are other channels which mostly play Pakistani and Indian music like FM 100, FM 101, Apna Karachi 107 (famous for its traffic updates), Hum FM, Must FM and others. Their quality ranges from good and average to being gross. The old channels especially FM 100 and FM 101 have now lost their significance and major chunk of listeners due to their scruffy programming.
Now letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s have some dig at the advertisement trends of these channels. Unfortunately, Radio Pakistan still takes the big portion of the cake, followed by the oldest FM channel of Pakistan. One wonders why the advertisers still prefer the Ã¢â‚¬Å“grand daddiesÃ¢â‚¬Â. I think the sole reason is the extensive coverage of these channels which attracts the wallets of these advertisers. The advertising revenues of these FM channels can be seen here (Please note that these revenues are in millions, not in billions as written over there). The quality of advertisements is quite appalling on most of the channels. I am surprised at even the elite channels like City FM 89 and Radio One playing the same ads of candies and phone entertainment services. At least they should prefer quality over these nasty ads provided that they are owned by business tycoons.
On a final note, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s quite satisfying that FM channels, despite their shortcomings have revolutionized the listening trends in Pakistan. Most of these channels have sprung up in a few years and needs time for evolution. One can hope that with the passage of time, the process of Ã¢â‚¬Å“natural selectionÃ¢â‚¬Â will take place and the sub-standard FM channels will be discarded by the listeners. I am giving you two links which further describes the FM phenomena in Pakistan here and here. Regards