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Why did Pakistani media censor a reality TV death in Thailand?

Here is a report by BBC Urdu.com revealing a ‘capitalist’ censorshp self-imposed by media in Pakistan regarding the death of a Pakistani in a reality TV show in Thailand.
Obviously, commerical interests associated with Unilever and other multinational companies are more important than the so called freedom of speech. Shame on Daktar Shahid Masood, Kashif Abbasi, Hamid Mir and Talat Hussain and other so called flag bearers of Azaadi-e-Sahafat in Pakistan.
The ISPR (i.e. priority of pro-Taliban interest over pro-Pakistan interest) and capitalist interests (i.e. priority of commerical interest over public interest) are two key ingredients of the freedom of speech in Pakistani media.
Shame on Jang Group, Geo TV, ARY and all other print media and TV channels in Pakistan.

خبر نہ چھپنے نے موت پُراسرار بنا دی

سعد خان

پاکستانی اخبار روزنامہ ڈان میں سعد خان کے بارے میں شائع ہونے والی تعزیتی پیغام کا عکس

تھائی لینڈ کے شہر بنکاک میں اگست کے وسط میں ایک ریئلٹی ٹی وی شو کی ریکارڈنگ کے دوران شو میں حصہ لینے والے ایک پاکستانی شہری کی ہلاکت نے جہاں ایسے ٹی وی شوز کے لیے کیے جانے والے حفاظتی انتظامات کے بارے میں سوالات پیدا کر دیے ہیں وہیں پاکستانی ذرائع ابلاغ میں اس خبر کا ’بلیک آؤٹ‘ جیسا انداز خود اپنی جگہ ایک خبر بن گیا ہے۔

کراچی سے تعلق رکھنے والے چونتیس سالہ بینکار سعد خان انیس اگست کو کثیر القومی کمپنی یونی لیور کی اشتہاری مہم سے متعلقہ ریئلٹی ٹی وی شو کی ریکارڈنگ کے دوران پانی میں ڈوب کر ہلاک ہوگئے تھے۔

سعد خان کو پندرہ پاؤنڈ وزن اپنی پیٹھ پر باندھ کر ایک تالاب میں سے تیر کرگزرنا تھا تاہم وہ اس کوشش کے دوران ڈوب گئے۔ مذکور ریئلٹی ٹی وی شو کی ہدایات کے لیے ممبئی کے ایک فلم ڈائریکٹر کے خدمات حاصل کی گئی تھیں اور یہ شو مختلف ٹی وی چینلز پر دکھایا جانا تھا۔ تاہم اطلاعات کے مطابق سعد کی موت کے بعد شو کو آن ائر کرنے کا منصوبہ فی الوقت مؤخر کر دیا گیا ہے۔

یونی لیور کی ترجمان کا کہنا ہے کہ ان کی موت کی تحقیقات ہو رہی ہیں اور کمپنی سعد کی موت کی ذمہ دار نہیں ہے۔ کمپنی کی اطلاعات افسر فرشتے اسلم نے بی بی سی سے بات کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ ریئلٹی ٹی وی شو کے دوران تمام حفاظتی انتظامات کیےگئے تھے۔ اس سوال پر کہ کیا ہلاک ہونے سعد خان کے خاندان کو کمپنی نے کوئی زرِ تلافی ادا کیا ہے فرشتے اسلم کا کہنا تھا کہ ان کی کمپنی اور سعد کے خاندان کے درمیان بعض معاملات حل ہونے کو ہیں اور دونوں فریقین نے فی الوقت خاموش رہنے پر اتفاق کیا ہے۔

کثیر القومی کمپنیاں پاکستانی میڈیا کو کروڑوں روپے کا بزنس فراہم کرتی ہیں اور یہی وجہ ہے کہ میڈیا مالکان کی نظر ان کے اشتہارات پر زیادہ اور ماڈل کی موت جیسی خبر پر کم پڑتی ہیں

حسین نقی

سعد خان کے ایک دوست بابر جمانی نے بی بی سی سے بات کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ سعد کے اہلِ خانہ بھی تھائی لینڈ میں جاری پولیس تفیش اور دیگر قانونی مراحل مکمل ہونے کے انتظار میں ہیں اور فی الوقت میڈیا سے گفتگو کرنے سے گریز کر رہے ہیں۔ بابر کے مطابق یونی لیور کمپنی کے خلاف سعد کے خاندان کی طرف سے قانونی چارہ جوئی کا انہیں کوئی علم نہیں ہے۔

سعد خان کی موت کی خبر کا ایک اہم پہلو یہ بھی ہے کہ قریباً ہر چھوٹی بڑی خبر کو ’بریکنگ نیوز‘ کے طور پر چلانے والے پاکستانی میڈیا نے ابتدائی طور پر نہ صرف یہ خبر ’ڈراپ‘ کر دی بلکہ بعد ازاں صرف ایک نجی چینل پر سرسری طور پر اس کا تذکرہ سننے میں آیا۔

پاکستان کے سینئر صحافی اور میڈیا کے نقاد حسین نقی کا کہنا ہے کہ ’پاکستان میں یہ خوش فہمی میڈیا کی خود بنائی ہوئی ہے کہ میڈیا آزاد اور سچ بولتا ہے‘۔ بی بی سی سے بات کرتے ہوئے انہوں نے کہا کہ اس ریئلٹی شو کے دوران پاکستانی شہری کی ہلاکت کو پاکستانی میڈیا نے اتنے سطحی انداز سے رپورٹ کیا ہے کہ کسی کو پتہ ہی نہیں چل سکا کہ دراصل کیا ہوا تھا۔

انہوں نے ماڈل کی موت کی خبر کو غیر اہم بناکر پیش کرنے کے پس منظر پر بات کرتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ ’ کثیر القومی کمپنیاں پاکستانی میڈیا کو کروڑوں روپے کا بزنس فراہم کرتی ہیں اور یہی وجہ ہے کہ میڈیا مالکان کی نظر ان کے اشتہارات پر زیادہ اور ماڈل کی موت جیسی خبر پر کم پڑتی ہے‘۔

اس حوالے سے جب پاکستان میں ٹی وی بزنس سے وابستہ گروپوں کے مالکان اور شیئر ہولڈرز سےبات کرنے کی کوشش کی گئی تو ان سے رابطہ نہیں ہو سکا ہے جبکہ رابطہ ہونے پر نجی پاکستانی ٹی وی چینل ’ہم‘ کی سربراہ نے صرف اتنا کہہ کر فون بند کردیا کہ وہ اس موضوع پر بات نہیں کرنا چاہتیں

Pakistan reality TV contestant drowns in challenge

ISLAMABAD — A contestant on a Pakistani reality TV show drowned while performing a challenge for the program, a spokeswoman for the show’s sponsor said Sunday.

Pakistani contestant Saad Khan, 32, was swimming across a lake while wearing a 15-pound (7-kilogram) backpack when he called out for help and then disappeared underwater, according to Fareshte Aslam, information officer for Unilever Pakistan, the show’s sponsor.

Horrified co-contestants and crew rushed to try to save him but could not find him in the murky waters of the lake in the Thai capital of Bangkok, where the show was being filmed, according to Aslam, who was recounting reports of those on the scene.

Divers later recovered the body of Khan, she said.

The death came during filming of the show’s 10th episode on Aug. 19, but it was not publicized until Khan’s body was returned home to the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.

Thai police were investigating to determine whether the death was an accident or caused by negligence, Bangkok’s Kom Chad Luek newspaper reported earlier this month. Police could not be contacted Sunday to say if the investigation had been completed.

Unilever Pakistan accepts no liability for Khan’s death, Aslam said, but added that the company is in discussions to provide for Khan’s wife and four children “out of rightness.”

A close friend of Khan’s, Babar Jumani, said by telephone that the family was not ready to talk to the media, and he declined to comment further.

Khan had already been eliminated in the as-yet-unnamed show’s previous rounds, but had returned for a special challenge to earn a spot in the finals.

Plans to air the reality show — intended as a promotional tie for Unilever’s Clear shampoo — were on hold. Aslam said Unilever Pakistan, a division of the multinational soap and cosmetics maker, was not involved in the production of the show, which was handled by a director and crew from the Indian entertainment capital of Mumbai.

Reality television shows often subject contenders to harsh physical challenges.

In May, a contestant of the Bulgarian version of “Survivor” died of a heart attack while filming on an island in the Philippines. Noncho Vodenicharov, 53, collapsed after finishing an unspecified activity for the contest, Philippine police said.

Associated Press Writer Ashraf Khan in Karachi contributed to this report.

Poor security blamed for drowning on reality show

Ayesha Nasir, Foreign Correspondent

  • Last Updated: September 05. 2009 1:03AM UAE / September 4. 2009 9:03PM GMT

Saad Khan, left, who died during a Unilever-sponsored reality TV show in Thailand, with his friend Fahd Siddiqui. i Courtesy Fahd Siddiqu

LAHORE // Hours before he died, Saad Khan, 32, was chatting with friends on Facebook from his hotel room in Bangkok in between getting the place ready for his wife who was arriving that evening from Pakistan. He was excited, say friends, about his re-entry into a reality television show being sponsored by Unilever, the largest manufacturer of consumer products in Pakistan. The show, in fact, was being shot as part of a promotional campaign for Clear shampoo, with the winner being crowned “Clear Man”.

“Saad had modelled in the past and was really looking forward to being a part of this show,” said Babar Jumani, a close friend and colleague. “He had always been interested in fashion and television.”

Khan, a father of four children, had a lot going for him, says Mr Jumani. “He was a totally self-made man who had risen from the bottom up and had managed to make it to the top of one of Pakistan’s largest banks,” he said. “He was doing great in his career, and had a lovely wife and four children.”

Only a few days into the show, Khan, who has been described by other contestants as the “life of the show” and “the person most likely to win the title”, was eliminated. According to the anonymous blog account of one contestant, Khan was eliminated during a challenge in the fourth round in which he had to get a ball into an elevated basket while standing on a block of ice. Khan, the contestants were told, would be leaving in two days.

But the show organisers, instead of sending Khan home, moved him to another hotel room and kept his presence hidden from the other contestants, before reintroducing him to the show a few days later.

“On the 19th we were preparing for the other task on the set of the show, when we suddenly saw a tall figure coming towards us smiling,” the contestant writes. “It was Saad bhai. We hooted and danced in excitement. Finally we got to meet him again, it was a big and a pleasant surprise for all of us. He was the life of the whole show; we had missed him a lot.”

The first challenge Khan was given upon his return entailed hoisting a 7kg bag on his shoulders and running through fire, swimming across a pond and then climbing a rope.
According to Fareshteh Gaitee Aslam, information officer for Unilever Pakistan, “Saad was swimming across a lake when he called out for help and then disappeared underwater”.

While Unilever says fellow contestants and crew rushed to save Khan, but could not find him in the muddy waters, several other versions of the story exist. Mr Jumani says despite the investigations of Khan’s friends and family, no single and credible account had emerged so far.

“Some say it was a lake, others say it was a shallow pond while still others say it was a reservoir,” he said.

“Some say there were lifejackets, others say divers were standing by while still others say there was nobody.” Mr Jumani and Khan’s family have asked Unilever to provide them with the footage that captures Khan’s death but they have yet to receive it.

When asked to explain the security arrangements at the site of the accident, Ms Aslam said security was not Unilever’s responsibility.

“We are a company which makes shampoos and soaps,” she said. “We had signed a contract for an advertising company who were responsible for filming the show. The technical team for the show came from Bangkok while the film crew was flown in from India. Our contract with the advertising concern did emphasise that adequate security preparations should be made.”

A request put forth by The National to see the contract between Unilever and the advertising company, Mindshare, has yet to be fulfilled. Calls made to Mindshare were not returned.

But an advertising insider who works at Mindshare revealed that security is never a major consideration when planning campaigns. “I am not surprised this happened because advertising companies never make security a priority,” he said.

“Stunts are now often made a part of ad campaigns but the precautions which should be taken when doing such difficult campaigns are usually lax.”

The contestant writing the blog gave an account of the accident that suggests the necessary precautions were not taken.

“Saad cleared the first stage, which was running through fire; he jumped in the pond and swam … When he reached the middle of the pond he suddenly turned and changed his style to backstroke, he looked troubled, we shouted and asked him to open his 7kg backpack, and he struggled to open it. While struggling he yelled for help and disappeared in the water. When there was no response from him, we dived in the pond to look for him, but couldn’t find him as the water was very muddy, and I came out. We started screaming and crying for help but there was no help around. After around 10 minutes his back pack came up floating on the water. The lifeguards came 10 to 12 minutes after the incident occurred and recovered Saad bhai’s body.”

Nael Ahmad, a model who once took part in an underwater shoot for a soft drink company, says there is a dearth of security standards in the advertising world. “It’s very person-dependent,” he said.

“There are no safety standards that apply across the board. If the team leader is good, the safety will be good. If the team leader is not very particular, security can be compromised.”

The Lahore-based lawyer Sardar Qasim Farooq says one reason why companies are sometimes careless when it comes to safety is because in Pakistan there is no tradition of consumers holding corporations to account.

“The law of torts has yet to become a part of our society, which means that the power of the consumer, or in this case the participants, has yet to be established,” he said.

Ms Aslam said Unilever will offer Khan’s family some financial compensation but it was up to the family whether to reveal the amount. She also said this was being done out of a sense of “rightness”, not legal obligation.

Reality shows have only recently become a regular feature on Pakistan’s television networks. A popular reality show on Geo television, Pakistan’s largest private television network, follows the efforts of a foreigner trying to get Pakistani citizenship. Another popular show does matchmaking in front of a live audience.

* The National

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