Are Medialogic Pakistan and Express News washing dirty linen in public?
By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Two peculiar events are talk of the town and talk of the social media of twin cities. First is about brutal treatment of Islamabad Police to lady doctors at Red Zone and second event is disturbing disclosures of CEO of sole Television Rating and Ranking system firm in Pakistan about how his system was allegedly abused by a television channel to get better rating. Interesting, both stories have a touch of brutal policing in Pakistan with different dimensions.
Manipulation of rating is a big joke with television viewers, advertisers and a disastrous act for television anchors and owners who cannot compromise on principles and do not want to Buy ratings.
The sole Media Rating firm of Pakistan Medialogic Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd says that it has a system working in 20 cities to collect viewership data from 1,000 households where it has fixed metres and these metres according to my understanding are actually television sets to collect data about which channel and which Television show is being viewed at what particularly time.
Medialogic Pakistan says that its system is based on advanced technology from Kantar Media UK to measure TV. This all data collection is actually based on viewership of those television sets that are placed by the company at over 1000 households and this is the first sources of data collection and the first window of manipulation for television rating.
During his press conference, Chief Executive Officers (CEO) Salam Danish admitted that his data collection, research and releasing rating was being polluted as one particularly Television channel— Express News was playing with metres— the first sources of data collection. He claimed that Express Television channels got fake results of media rating and ranking by manipulating system of his company. He shared information with viewers that Medialogic had earlier served a notice to the Express Media Group, accusing it of indulging in malpractice and bribery to Medialogic staff for getting increase TV ratings.
“They were bribing Medialogic employees to increase their TV ratings,” said Danish, while presenting cheques and drafts received by Medialogic employees from individuals allegedly connected to the Express Media Group. Salman Danish also claimed that the TV channels had profited by upto Rs450 million from the altered TV ratings at the behest of the entire electronic media industry. Alas this alternation was done by his company although his company was not officially involved but ratings were of course released with signature and seal of his company.
On the other hand, Express Media Group has a different story. Mouthpiece of Express Media Group —the Express Tribune in one of its story claimed that Medialogic demanded Rs450 million as bribe from Express Media Group. Express Media group kept silent about how could it be a excellent rating News channel in past without bribing the company if this company really works and provides better rating through bribery?
The focal figure of this on-going allegation war is one former employee of Medialogic— Shaista. She was at Express news talks shows along with her family for hours, blaming that Medialogic used her as scapegoat. Her family claimed that their lives were in danger and Rawalpindi Police were harassing them. Shaista names Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) officials in Rawalpindi for harassing her and her family and even abducted her family members.
A blogger Hussian Ali in his article identified some interesting aspects of Media Rating system of Pakistan. He believes the sole Rating company has uneven numbers of rating metres in the country and metres are mere people who can be asked to watch one particular channel at particular time to get better rating for a particularly time slot or for a particular television anchor.
He claimed in his story that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has its own monitoring system at Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications but this system has not been utilized by private television channels and setting up of Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications was delayed for years due to alleged pressure on certain bureaucrats and politicians in past from Medialogic and top televisions and newspapers owners because Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications could be a competitor and could break the monopoly of Medialogic.
Who is right and who is wrong can be a long unending debate but situation indicates that there should be a thorough investigation and review to know who is at fault and how a better system can replace faulty system that is open to manipulation.