ISLAMABAD – According to a Monthly Research Study conducted by Gallup Pakistan Media Research Service, in the talk shows analyzed ‘Politics’ was the main topic under discussion (34%), while the majority of the guests were politicians (67%). PTI, PML-N and PPP were the political parties with the most airtime, each with a participation of 24%. The duration of the analysis is July 2015.
Content analyses of 8 popular current events talk shows (Off the Record; Capital Talk; Meray Mutabiq; Sawal Yeh Hai; News Eye; Aapas Ki Baat; Nadeem Malik Live and Tonight with Fareeha) consisting of a total of 119 episodes aired on different cable television networks was conducted for July 2015. The topics discussed on these shows were distilled into 7 broad categories: ‘Economy’, ‘Governance’, ‘Law’, ‘Politics’, ‘Media’, ‘Security’ and ‘Miscellaneous’. Issues that were discussed less frequently, for example sports and socio-cultural subjects, have been included in the ‘Miscellaneous’ category.
Average Number of Guests: 3 Guests per Episode
On average 3 guests appeared per episode for each show. While some guests were frequently invited on different talk shows, overall there were 96 unique guests out of a total of 356 guests in the 119 episodes analyzed. This figure that depicts repeated appearance by guests signifies the limited availability and rudimentary capacity of talk shows in attracting fresh faces. It also underlies the limited nature of fresh ideas and lack of diversity of opinion in talk shows.
Background of Guests Invited: Politicians Continue to Dominate
Furthermore, the majority of the guests were Politicians (67%), followed by Experts including professors, defense analysts and senior analysts at 18%. 6% of the guests invited were from miscellaneous occupational categories such as art, cricket, civil society and bureaucracy. Media personnel (anchors, experts, journalists) occupied 5%, while Religious experts occupied 2% and Judiciary members had a 1% share of the broadcast participation.
Air- time Share of Political Parties: PML-N, PTI and PPP at an equal standing
In July the maximum participation in talk shows amongst political parties was from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) at 24% each. Members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were also prominently featured with a 15% share in representation. 3 % of the participants were independent, with the remaining share constituted by other smaller parties.
Most Discussed Topic in Talk Shows: Politics
In the month of April, Politics yet again led the talk shows as the most discussed topic. 34% of the total time in talk shows was dedicated to discussing political on goings in Pakistan. Security was the second most frequently discussed topic at 20% while Law and Governance were each discussed 16 % of the time. Miscellaneous issues were discussed 10% of the time and only 2% was taken up by media- related topics. Discussions regarding economy were negligible, taking only 1% of the total time in talk shows.
Most Discussed Topic Under Politics: PTI Apology for 35 Panchar Allegations
The most frequently discussed topic was the PTI apology for the 35 Panchar Allegations and the future of the PTI (13%). An equal proportion of 13 % was accounted for by general political discussions. These were closely followed by conversations on Altaf Hussain’s speech against the army (12%) and the operations undertaken by the rangers against parties, especially the PPP and MQM (12%).
Most Discussed Topic Under Security: The Karachi Operation
Politics was followed by Security as the second most frequently discussed topic in talk shows during April. Within Security, the most discussed theme was the Karachi Operation (32%). Other frequently mentioned subjects consisted of the Pakistan-India relationship (14%), the security policies of the Pakistan army to eradicate terrorism (8%), the role of Pakistan in negotiations between Kabul and the Afghani Taliban (8%) as well as the confirmation of the death of Mullah Umar by the Taliban (8%).
Most Discussed Topic Under Law: Judicial Commission Rigging & Report
Law formed the third most frequently discussed category. Some of the major themes discussed under Law issues were: Judicial Commission rigging and report (38%), followed by demand for electoral reforms (26%), extension in the powers of rangers (15%) and the money laundering case against the MQM (8%).
The main topic discussed under the theme of Governance was the scandal involving corruption cases (49%). Big changes in the Sindh Government and performance of the government in relations to the flood disaster were other important topics discussed under the umbrella of Governance.
The analysis of talk shows during July reveals that politics once again prevailed over the media landscape, as has been the pattern over the past year, with very few exceptions. Its share may have fallen considerably in comparison to June (50%), but it still has a significant lead of 14% over the next most discussed category of Security (20%). This may well be attributed to the overwhelming interest in discussions surrounding the PTI’s apology over the 35 Panchar Allegations, the PTI’s future, Altaf Hussain’s criticism of the army and the efforts of rangers being undertaken against various parties. This trend also hints towards the fact the Pakistani talk shows have a tendency of discussing the immediate, short- term issues facing the country, while more concrete, long- term debates such as those on education, social problems and energy crisis are relegated to the sidelines.
Furthermore, a trend that has been persistent over the past months yet again surfaced in talk shows during July 2015. Data reveals that the gender- wise representation of guests is very unbalanced in these leading talk shows. 91% of the guests invited were males while only 9% were females. This figure is very similar to those observed in May (8 % females) and June (7 % females), thus showing only a slight improvement.