Friday, January 29, 2010

Sunset at DawnNews

Ok folks, so, I fear we may be over-doing the whole Dawn / DawnNews thingy with yet another post on the same. And some of the epithets hurled at the latter (YawnNews, I'm thinking of you) may begin to rub of on to Cafe Pyala. But what do you do when the (dawn)news just keeps on coming?

And this is a big one, trust me.

So, according to our insiders who kindly informed us, Dawn Media Group head honcho, Ms. Amber Saigol, addressed the workers at DawnNews yesterday on the floor of the newsroom and basically informed them that she wanted to simply shut down the channel because of the losses it had been incurring since its birth. But that she had been persuaded by the management (which would include her daughter Nazafreen Saigol) to give the channel 'one last chance.' So that is what she was going to do.

That last chance would involve restructuring the channel as a hybrid Urdu-English channel and a bunch of sackings. We hear that from February 15, DawnNews will broadcast Urdu bulletins from 9 to 12 in the morning as well at prime time, i.e. 9 to 12 in the evening. The English bulletins and programming would make up the rest of the day, primarily focused on audiences in North America.

 Naveen Naqvi and Nadia Zaffar: Dawn and out

Now, not only does this mean that some prime time programmes such as Saima Mohsin's NewsEye would eventually face the axe (since they clash with the time allotted for Urdu), but that a number of people working on the English programming would also become redundant. A big round of sackings took place almost immediately. So far some 40 people have been issued their pink slips across the country, including 27 from Karachi alone. Among the 'big names' retrenched include anchors Naveen Naqvi and Razeshta Sethna, and senior producer Nadia Zafar and anchor Mariam Zaidi (whose only claim to being a 'big name' was admittedly that she said she was in an interview in latest issue of Xpoze magazine). The entire Current Affairs / 'Infotainment' department under Mazhar Zaidi has been demolished (though he remains) with even his senior producer Nofil Naqvi choosing to walk rather than accept a pay cut.

'It' girl no more

According to our moles, the criteria for the sackings is simply the cost of the personnel. Those anchors with salaries below Rs. 60,000 - 70,000 have been retained while the rest have been let go. A number of cameramen have also been retrenched, with only those with salaries below Rs. 25,000 retained. A number of personnel, such as Creative Department head Alia Chughtai, had already resigned earlier.

As for the rumoured move to shift the newsroom to Islamabad, it seems this is still under consideration, though production would still continue to happen in Karachi. The only explanation anyone can seem to come up with such a bizarre idea is that the current head of news, Mubashir Zaidi, who shifted to Karachi from Islamabad a few months ago, would like to move back. Suffice it to say that, if these rumours are correct, this would be a bigger disaster than DawnNews currently.

Now, I'm no expert on restructuring television channels, but it would seem to me that this will not work out, for a number of reasons:

1) A language-hybrid channel is unlikely to develop a brand loyalty and is likely to simply confuse its viewership.

2) It seems DawnNews is chasing after viewers who watch other Urdu channels such as Geo, Express, Aaj and ARY. But why should they switch to DawnNews for a mere 6 hours a day?

3) Those personnel who have chosen to stay with a pay cut have probably only opted to do so as a stop-gap measure, until they are able to secure a better-paying job elsewhere. The remaining staff are likely to be feeling equally insecure and demoralized and will probably jump ship as soon as they have the chance.

4) You get what you pay for. When you get rid of your celebrity presenters / best cameramen and feature producers (by far the best thing on DawnNews was its documentaries) how would you create your niche in the glut of television channels? Are you then not ensuring that the restructuring does not stand a real chance?

5) No business enterprise (and I'm not just talking about television channels here) has ever survived with half-hearted measures that in reality become a case of 'throwing good money after bad.' DawnNews was probably a losing proposition to begin with in the manner it was conceived.

And how long would Ms. Saigol give for her 'last chance'? Apparently four to five months. No wonder many within the channel are of the opinion that DawnNews will be shut down by the end of the current fiscal year.

A shame, but there you have it.


Anonymous said...

The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy. The bosses are the enemy.

Anonymous said...

The bosses may well be the enemy, as anonymous above in an ever-so-subtle way informs us, but wasn't the preening and posturing staff of the channel (remember Ali Mustafa?)their own worst enemies from day one?

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to The First Blast?

Nabeel said...

this is CRAZY. i hope they don't pull all their archives off youtube!

Alpha Za said...

Wow, culling the talent hardly seems like the smartest idea in the world, but I guess Saigol is tired of bleeding Dawn Newspaper. I agree that making a hybrid channel is probably a strange way to differentiate themselves. Pity this isn't the US; Dawn could use a bail out.

I think this is pretty great for the other news channels as they can get Dawn's 'Stars' at a discount and Dawns newspapers group is likely to suffer as staff may jump to Express Tribune for the relative stability (their not going to shut down a paper that hasn't launched yet).

Alpha Za said...

Maybe they need their own version of the Daily Show or SNL. Something to make it more entertaining and less informative...

Mars said...

a darn shame. seriously. I have shared my disgust for the entire episode and linked back to your informative post here :

dawn news in urdu? hard to imagine.

Anonymous said...

This was clearly a failure in the management / SALES area- that being said, all of us reading this blogpost are in a rather limited market niche, which
brands don't consider a costworthy audience. Whether it was out of naïveté, bosses did give us a chance to work on quality programming, but then allowed stupid mistakes like hiring people who turn up at their dinner parties as department heads, rather than tried and tested professionals.

Anonymous said...

the documentaries are still going to continue- the features producers who were sacked were the ones producing shitty shows like 'open frequency' etc They have retained documentary producers... so no one's really going to lose sleep over that really.
also, alia chugtai is back because no one else in the industry was going to hire her.

Anonymous said...

Did I mention...the bosses are the enemy?

Omar R Quraishi said...

of course this could well give other channels a cue to do the same just as it may enable them to hire some of the talent at lower salaries

OA said...

Completely agree with the author when he/she says that Dawn News was a losing proposition to begin with. I mean, what kind of viewership are you even aiming for with such terrible and, at times, vomit inducing programming. I'm looking at you, First Blast. You too, A Taste of Fusion.

Yawn news is exactly what it is. Their coverage sucks. The anchors, minus a few, are horrendous. Mehreen Agha will put you to sleep with her unflinching single tone drawl. That spectacled guy with a moustache looks like the neighbourhood sex pest and Poppy Agha's exaggerated haughtiness isn't fooling anyone.

Having said all that, equinox, for the love of food and urban sketches will be missed.

Anonymous said...

urrrr... heads up, the Documentaries are NOT going to continue. Producers who made Kaleidoscope and Urban Sketches have been sacked. The producer who made Open Frequency was NOT sacked, but resigned.

Sami said...

@OA C'mon be nice. Those people you are insulting are actual human beings with feelings. Some of them will probably read this. Meanwhile, you sit there with safely behind the shield of anonimity. If you didn't like the programming that's your right. If you didn't like the anchors that is also your right. Being a dick about it isn't though.

And trust me, I'm the biggest dick on the planet so if I'm saying this then you must be really out of line.

Anonymous said...

It Dawn's fault- they went out to hire these "foreign - return" kids with virtually no other qualifications for the snob appeal I guess and look what they got.

It sad though because I remember how Dawn pulled people from other channels back in 2007- people who were getting 40 grand at their first jobs in a TV channel were hired by Dawn for 70 and 80. This caused a mass exodus out of one channel into Dawn but at the same time I remember that the management at the channel where I was working had a good laugh about how Dawn had taken all the blow hard do nothings from us and saved us so much money.

Omar R Quraishi said...

hahaha sami

anon -- foreign return or no foreign return the issue is something else -- as in lots of really good journalists in print never went overseas to study -- a good example is of aamer ahmed khan or ahmed ali khan -- the issue is not necessarily a foreign degree or lack thereof but competence

Purple Rain said...

Ho hum! What can I say? I am just an oldie, rejected by the young, competent and wise editor at DAWN newspaper after writing for the same for over 25 years! And to think that my writing and film work has recieved international and national awards, published universally, translated into many languages...Yet I was just not good enough for the esteemed news paper or the channel, despite having trained as a live current affairs broadcaster by the BEEB, no less! I send my CV to Shakil Masood in the early days when DAWN NEWS was just an idea -- I never recieved even an acknowledgment. But guess what? I'm the one laughing all the way to the bank with a great contract for international CNBC, and am writing for Express Tribune for far beyond the one ruppee per word I was being paid by the misers at DAWN!!! Ha ha ha! She who laughs laughs laughs loudest! Now DAWN NEWS should end with a programme called the Last Fart instead of the First Blast

Khurram Husain said...

Its a pity that Dawn News' moment of difficulty has to become an opportunity for some to gloat.

But lets consider this: if Dawn News is going under, should it take the future of English language broadcast media with it?

More people are now saying that an English language channel is inherently a non-viable idea.

Personally, I would like to see a continued presence for English language tv. So the question for me is, what lessons do we learn from the experience of Dawn News?

Anonymous said...

Most important lesson: Not hiring pals just because they're pals.

Hire experienced, proper journalists for important positions as opposed to making xyz section head because he was a friend who taught at LUMS for five years? Hell, he wasn't ever a journalist now, was he?!

Omar R Quraishi said...

purple rain -- hmmmm -- express tribune hasnt come out yet -- you mean you will write for it once it does?

khurram -- good question -- let's hope other channels dont take a cue from this and start their own lay offs - i think what they need to do is to focus on their strength -- which is dawn the paper -- and to consolidate that

Sami said...

yeah Khurram, the gloating and bashing is a bit much. Every twat with an agenda is out sharpening knives.

This is the same thing I was discussing with some friends recently. That the failure of Dawn will end up meaning that people will assume an english channel can't work in Pakistan. It's completely untrue. The only real lesson of Dawn is that a mismanaged channel can't work in Pakistan (although some of the entertainment channels have even proven that assumption of mine false).

What did Dawn News do wrong? It never figured out its market. They wanted to cater to either the upper upper class A++ market, but even in that the segment that was Amber Saigol's group of friends. Then they wanted mass appeal. Then God knows what. They never understood that their niche is SEC A and B+. Ages 22 to 45. Focus on them. Tell your sales team that when they talk to advertisers to explain it is a channel where any product advertised automatically gains aspirational value.

Then they never marketed themselves properly. You need either heavy out door and high visibility marketing or if you don't have the budget then go so clever and original in low cost BTL and Ambient that it gets word-of-mouth value. The best example is when I was running doing News Weakly, I asked them if they would do a poster series or a hoarding or something. They responded that the show was being heavily promoted already by running promos on the channel all the time.

"So what if someone isn't watching Dawn News? How will they find out about the show?" was my response. I got blank stares in return.

So market properly. Know your audience and get them aggressively.

The salaries issue everyone complains about I don't buy. Dawn news paid people alot sure, but in an industry where other media channels pay hard working journalists a pittance, it raised the overall bar and created a more competitive market. That is a good thing. Plus they are the only channel that paid on time and was 100% with their financial dealings as far as employees go. No one does that.

The biggest and most egregious mistake though when they forgot they were a news channel. If there is a bomb blast in a major city and I can't get coverage of it on Dawn NEWS because they are running a cooking show, something has gone wrong. They should have split programming between News and Current Affairs on Dawn News. Current Affairs should have created talk shows that were a little more viewer friendly than just old men sitting around talking most of the time. Sadly you are competing in a market where the other channels have loud voices and bombastic presenters. Your dignified calm will bore viewers. It's TV after all. Don't go Fox maybe, but atleast try for MSNBC.

Back to the NEWS coverage issue, when Dawn stopped being aggressive about breaking news, it lost alot of credibility. Credibility that could have been gained if they had then made up the gap with analysis instead but even that was missing. Instead News became the breather between Features. I love Features. I worked in Features as well for a short while. I still believe Features should have been on a separate channel, maybe called DAWN IMAGES. There you have your cooking shows, tech shows, movie review shows and everything else. Keep Dawn News about News. The IMAGES show could then have been the money earner if marketed and sold properly that would support the NEWS channel which would be respect for doing what it promises to do.

I am sure there are things I am missing or forgetting, but off the top of my head that's what I always maintained. The problems with the channel always came down to Sales and Marketing. You can put it on the air, but if no one is watching then what's the point.

Muhammad Ali said...

Purple Rain: Karma is a bitch, and she kicks both ways. and OQ is right, Express Tribune hasn't launched yet (he ought to know), and in the wake of these lay offs, I wouldn't be too surprised if you gigantic offer fell dramatically because of all the dawn talent flooding the market (all employers become misers in a bad market buddy). Tip btw: don't just send your resume around like its a flyer, try following it up with a call. It tends to help.

We need to realize that Dawn News channel failing is an inherently bad thing, forget for one second that everyone here likes to hate on dawn, but that with the lay offs and Pakistani job market looking bad, this means that a lot of people will be willing to take jobs for less money than expected. Besides, the goal is for the industry to grow, not shrink. People tend to forget that there are few channels that are profitable and this will give top staff the room to offer low salaries and work their people twice as hard...or maybe even shut down. I like CNBC btw, so hope that doesnt happen.

Oh and I'm one of those foreign grads whose come back to Pakistan (I work in finance) and the reason that my friends (returning foreign grads) got jobs in media (and thankfully are still employed) is because they are smart and driven (they can also spell, which can be challenging for some); success is about competence, as OQ, as he loves to tell us, is a Columbia journalism grad, and he has done well for himself.

Omar R Quraishi said...

well said muhammad ali -- though i have never studied journalism -- and like i said there are many good and successful journalists in pakistan who never went abroad to study -- hell some of the best and most competent people i have had the privilege of working with -- ahmed ali khan (quite incomparable), tahir mirza and ZIM (Zafar Iqbal Mirza who used to write A Letter from Lahore for Dawn) or my former boss at Dawn, M A Majid, never studied in a foreign land - in many cases people who come from abroad want to do too many things right away -- and that's not how it works, or at least supposed to work -- you have to put in your years, generally speaking of course

Qasim Tareen said...

Alarming that something which rested on mostly young Pakistani shoulders is falling. Says something about the relationship between the younger and older generation. Communication breakdown. Oh the irony.

Muntaha said...

@Sami: well analyzed. I agree to most of the things you have said. Marketing department sadly never existed at Dawn the way it should have. And a confusion in the target audience kept coming up. Dawn started off with "The Legacy of trust" but couldn't materialize it. The channel launched with a very young and hip feel to it, a different brand altogether from the paper and so the audience that was reading the paper got a bit confused to start with. Then there came a stage of experimentation which did not go too well with the audience because everyone thought the channel is confused which is never a good thing for a news channel.
Having said this, I respect everyone who has worked honestly for the channel.Whether it worked or not, Dawn did make a difference in the Pakistani media and we should not forget that.

XYZ said...

Wow. I'm actually impressed with the level of debate in the comments (aside from the usual anon bashing). Good stuff.

@Sami: excellent points, backed up with examples of your own experience. Yes, I think one of the biggest problems at Dawn News was its decision to ignore breaking news. You cannot expect people to watch a news channel that thinks features and cooking shows are more important than the news that people are tuning in to find out about. Of course the other (Urdu) channels have taken the 'breaking news' idea to the extreme, making all sorts of piffle worthy of tickers and butt-in news, but you cannot compete with that by going to the other extreme.

The language issue, is, however, not a small issue either. Quite aside from the small market of people who speak English on a regular basis at home, even English medium types (who can speak Urdu) watch Urdu-language channels because its seems much more authentic hearing quotes from people in the news who are not struggling to express themselves in English. Not to mention the fact that Dawn News was a crazy mix of all sorts of global accents from the anchors, so even people who are fluent in English found it difficult to get their ears attuned to what was being said. There is a difference also between people who read English papers (a much larger group) which give them time to digest what's written and those who feel comfortable listening to and conversing in English.

Omar R Quraishi said...

let's hope the management is able to divert itself from this in the middle-term and understand that it needs to focus on its main asset and brand -- which clearly is the newspaper

Omar R Quraishi said...

yes v informed debate - and for a change not many people hiding behind anons -- sami esp incisive and good --

OA said...

@Sami 129: Come on yourself. Theres no need to sugarcoat things. I laughed when you wrote about everyone in the MMA being fugly. Or when you labelled all lawyers as being crooks and liars led by a lazy eyed twit, or something to that effect. See, you get to be a dick under the cover of comedy. I get to be one behind the shield of anonymity. I think we're even.

Khurram Husain said...

I think Dawn News reflected - and struggled with - the peculiar place of the English language in our society. Hence the schizophrenic contrasts between the breaking news and the cooking shows, the shallow cacophony of the accents. It wasn't just that many key newsmakers would have to struggle to give a comment in English, but many of the English speaking anchors struggled to figure out a relevant question to ask from key newsmakers.

I also think the channel struggled to find a foothold in the architecture of the news. Geo casts itself as the channel out to unmask the misdoings of the incumbent regime. Express is out for speed and the "human interest" story. Dawn News tried to do the "fair and balanced" approach, but it wasn't possible with a thinly spread news gathering system, and desk staff who had only started reading newspapers at the age of 25. Hence we had an extended period where the headlines consisted of statements by ministers, in descending order of rank, exactly like PTV in the old days. We had another period where 2-3 stories in the headlines were taken from the wires and so on...

Now keeping this sort of thing in mind - that an English language news channel is going to end up reflecting the milieu it hails from and speaks to - I wonder what sort of things can be done to make English language broadcast journalism a viable proposition in Pakistan?

Anonymous said...

how much money are these guys losing a year? anyone have any idea about the numbers?

HK said...

As a Mass Media Marketer who learnt whatever little he knows on the job at various Pakistani television channels through the boom years, I find that Production and Creative Personnel, like Sami here, find it all too easy to demand a national advertising campaign for every program they launch or lay the blame on Sales and Marketing every time their programs don't fare well.

Maybe that Outdoor Campaign never happened because the program was not big enough or good enough; maybe the Marketing Department didn’t have enough of a budget; maybe the program didn’t warrant any more investment; maybe the person gave you a blank stare because you were trying to suggest that somehow a small outdoor campaign will accomplish more than the most visible and potent medium of promotion, the television screen.

As for how will people see the promo if they don’t watch Dawn News, how will people see those posters if they don’t walk down that street? Especially since most of the people who watch Dawn News don’t usually walk down any street.

Augmenting a medium with another in a plan is always a good idea but not always a good possibility. Secondly, your program might be the most important thing in the world to you but Marketing Departments have to deal with dozens of Producers who think exactly like you while trying to manage their own performance metrics and stated goals.

I have never worked at Dawn News but am fortunate enough to be friends with some very hard working and capable individuals there, both in Marketing and Production, from a talent pool that was once the envy of the entire industry.

I find it hard to believe that I am about to defend Dawn News since I have never been a very big fan of what they stand for but I'd like to remind everyone that Dawn News has not failed, it’s not a Marketing and Sales failure, it's a readjustment to the ground realities.

Restructuring and rightsizing, as it is now known, is a fact that every business has to grapple with. Just last year nearly a 700 people across the industry were laid off from far more ‘successful’ channels such as Geo, ARY and Aaj. No business enjoys laying people off in a highly competitive market; the sooner people who lost their jobs at Dawn News realize that the sooner they’ll come to terms with it.

The current Pakistani television market is drastically different to the time Dawn News was conceived and launched. After rolling out a business plan it is often very difficult to roll it back and I think the financial planners at Dawn News were terribly optimistic about the prospects of the industry, hence we stand here today.

Omar R Quraishi said...

hmm given the level of analysis and writing here it would be a shame to miss this opportunity -- guys if you want to reach a national audience and want to write analyses and/or commentary for a forthcoming national paper drop me a line at

cafe pyala eds -- i hope you let this one go :)

Aamna said...

I think and have experienced that good writers are rarely appreciated at newspapers Omar. They're better-off on blogs LOL!

Anonymous said...

Very informed comments I must say. But did anyone notice that all those writing obituaries for English language channels in Pakistan never once brought up the name of that other Angrezi venture, Express 24/7? I can understand why given its utter lack of ambition and imagination but at least it is still(kind of) running. Or was it actually dead at birth?

Nadir Hassan said...

Regarding the point made by some commenters about Dawn News and foreign graduates, I think is a problem that afflicts all English-language news organizations (and I say this as someone who studied abroad). Employers often make the mistake of assuming that someone who has a foreign degree automatically has perfect English, when that is certainly not the case. Some of the smartest people I've worked with have come from the Karachi University Mass Comm. department.

What's far more crucial than the degree a journalist holds (or whether he or she even has a degree) is the training that's provided to them. I'm lucky to work under an editor who's taught me pretty much every thing I know and I wonder if Dawn trained its employees with the same passion and commitment.

Dev AM said...

Well said HK..

Dawn news had a good chance of making it big.. but to start with the name wasnt right.. if an english radio channel can be sucessful in Pakistan then why cant a TV channel?

Dawn as a brand stands for something its something that my parents cant live without but they have no associations with Dawn news..

dawn news as a brand extension did not have the same brand values as the newspaper..thats why it got everyone confused and eventually not a lot of people could relate to it..

i hope its a lesson for, they should either change the name
or change the identity.. because it would face similar problems sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

Nadia Zafar was an ass kisser that did no work and just politicked her way to the Senior Producer position.

She should have been let go ages ago.

karachi khatmal said...

i don't want to delve into the reasons behind the failure of the channel, or foretell the future of english language journalism in the country.

i do want to say something to the various anon commenters, and especially purple rain. you are obviously a big shot having had your work translated and what not. you must be very important. you must be very talented and successful. and your favourite feeling must be schadenfreude.

it must be enjoyable to laugh at contemporaries and your kitty party guests, of whom there were hundreds in dawn new, and to damn them with your pity.

but a failing channel is also comprised of camera men, editors, sound and light people, receptionists, guards, janitors, secretaries, drivers, IT staff, canteen workers, accountants etc etc. these are all hard working, middle class people with families, who are not going to ever have the ability to mail CVs and wait for tantalizing offers. no new channel, or old one, is going to give them the salaries and benefits that people of our class can lay claim to. no company car ever came to pick them up and drop them to their tete-a-tetes. no one blows them air kisses, and no one gives a fuck for them.

i am not going to act like some gandhi and claim that all my friends came from this group, these 'subaltern' i speak of. no one becomes more interesting or fun because they are richer or poorer,

but people do get fucked over if they are poorer. and at the end of the day, this is the vast, silent majority of unwashed masses for whom the fall of dawn news, or any other place, spells the worst form of fate.

as someone said, we all take joy in other's failings. if the Jamaat-e-Islami were to go bankrupt tomorrow, i would be laughing too. so i'm not any better than you. but still, maybe a little bit more empathy and a lot less bitchiness behind the comfort of anonymous blogger profiles would be in handy. perhaps you can't be human, but at least you can be courageous.

Omar R Quraishi said...

yes nadir -- true -- i can say that with the paper it depended a lot on whom you worked with though there was no formal training given as such -- in print the best training, or at least in my view, is what you get while on the job

Dubai Dude said...

Dawn News sucks just like Dawn the Newspaper. Express 24/7 is much better. Come on, this is not bloody England so why fake accents and import hosts? Its destined to doom.

Ms. Saigol, there's no such thing as a last chance. Its now or never.

Sami said...

@HK: You raise some good points. I'm not naive and self-important enough to believe that my show would have saved the channel, but while I may not be a "Mass Media Marketer" but I have experience beyond Production and Creative. I've worked in advertising for several years before Dawn and am back in the same industry now, so I have some experience with launching and establishing brands. An outdoor campaign wouldn't have saved the channel but it certainly would have helped it. Not for any specific shows but maybe for the channel itself would help. Hell, if NEWSEYE is your flagship show, advertise it as such. I think the recent return of Ayeshah Alam to Breakfast at Dawn was the perfect example of a wasted opportunity in marketing. You are right, people in our SEC don't walk around the city for a poster to work anywhere, but they do frequent certain areas quite regularly and predictably. You have a niche audience with established and documented routines. It's easier to find them then it is to advertise to the masses. I know enough people who resigned from the marketing dept. at Dawn over the same points I am making. It may not have saved the channel, but again, it couldn't hurt.

Lets not fool ourselves into thinking this is some strategic restructuring that will benefit the channel. Every place has some dead weight, Dawn News was no different, but this time around they have genuinely done more than just trim the fat. It must not have been easy to do, I know Dawn management well enough to know that they personally cared for everyone who worked there and this must have hurt them alot to do. Just saying that there are many many things that could have been done different (that goes without saying actually) and a better, more focused marketing and sales strategy would have helped.

@Nadir: Dawn News trained all of us, something for which I am imminently grateful. We had excellent instructors and fantastic hands on experience. Those foreign grads that everyone seems to hate worked just as hard as local ones. In the end it doesn't matter where you studied if your work doesn't hold up, something we all lived and died with.

@Anonymous: Nadia Zafar worked just as hard as anyone else there. In a 24 hour news channel. Use your real name if you have to bash on someone. Flinging poop while hiding in the dark is cheap.

@Dubai Dude: I never met anyone at Dawn with a fake accent. People who spoke with accents tended to have them for real. Besides, why is this such an issue? Some people move to Pakistan from foreign countries. Some study there and acquire accents. Some don't. If that's a deal breaker for you then go jump of the Burj Khalifa because your life must be full of petty frustrations.

Right. I am off to bed. Thanks for the fascinating discussion everyone! Sorry if I offended anyone (unless you are an anonymous poster, in which case your cowardice grants me the right to hope you contract venereal diseases from your mother).

Dubai Dude said...

@Sami: Seems I kicked a butt when I mentioned fake accents.. hmmm?

Saw Naveen Naqvi's tweet that she's looking for work. Wondering maybe Geo can do some cherry picking here.

Sami said...

@dubai dude: To tell you the truth even I have a fake accent. Unfortunately mine is Jamaican.

Dubai Dude said...

@Sami: So now you better start practicing Urdu in Lyari accent. Maybe you can get a segment in Nadia Khan Show :)

XYZ said...

@Sami and Dubai Dude: Please stop now. Or take it somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

@Sami: you're not even funny so what r u trying to do here? advertising your humor on a blog since there's no channel like DawnNews to pamper u? Please stop making us count how wonderful things were during the time when u were in the channel and how it was bad since they didn't have the right marketing 'strategy' according to u. I mean, u urself, are one of the symptoms of the disease which DawnNews got afflicted with. The disease is called mediocrity. Anyone with a stupid face and a squeaky voice could be considered as funny by YawnNews, and for that reason alone u were able to bag a show. That is also the sole reason y ur show bombed-so don't blame the marketing or the sales team for your own failures. Be a man and admit the fact that you just weren't good enough.

Omar R Quraishi said...

anonymous -- be 'a man' and post under your actual name

Anonymous said...

Actually ORQ, I'm a woman. But u know what, I'm 'the man' even when I post anonymously, while u still sound sissy when posting with your actual name. So, from now on please don't give the 'be a man' advice to anyone, unless of corse u want people to laugh at your face.

irfan said...

This is probably the most fascinating Pakistani blog that i have ever read. Fake accent or accent-less in print, the contributors on this blog exude a passion which is contagious. Can't wait to pitch in ....

While those who have lost their jobs will certainly want to blame their misfortune on others - be it a party pal or a phoren returned angrezi speaking dude with no prior journalism experience - at the end of the day, if their combined work was unable to generate enough advertising income, reality has to kick in. The Saigols may have the moola but they did not get it by squandering it on loss making enterprises. The umbilical chord has to be cut. The child has to face the rough and tumble. It cannot rely on the milk of human kindness to survive. It is a dog eat dog world out there. If Dr Shahid Masood or Kamran Khan can establish themselves as the Barbara Walters of Pakistan, DAWN News should have also created its own stars. Not self proclaimed stars but stars whom people HAD to watch. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

I do not believe that it is the English language that is to be blamed. When DAWN News was launched, I am sure the financiers of the channel knew that this would never be a mainstream channel. What percentage of our population speaks English? If DAWN News could manage to reach and retain the English speaking audience of Pakistan, it would have achieved its goal - and i am confident that advertising would follow. As someone earlier said, it is an aspirational channel and advertisers have a budget for this.

I would tend to agree with one of the previous bloggers who mentioned that DAWN News could not adequately fulfill the breaking news desires of its viewers by interviewing people who were struggling to communicate in English. Hey, don't all of us in Pakistan also speak or at least understand Urdu? Why not make it easy on the guy by allowing him to speak in Urdu and get us the information fast? I don't particularly feel that a prime time Urdu and non-prime time English language Dawn News will survive. Just mix Urdu and English together. Allow people who are comfortable speaking in Urdu to speak in Urdu. The anchor or the compere can speak both languages and let the program flow. We do it every day.

And finally a small plug since this blog has a good parha likha audience! We have recently launched an English language travel website - - and would love to be contacted by anyone interested in writing for it. Travel articles, city guides, or your travel Q&A on our Travel Blog are all welcome. Please contact editorATchuttiDOTpk. We pay our writers ...


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dubai Dude said...

Geo is responsible for the mess Dawn is in today. Along with all the religious extremist, TTP, ABC, XYZ and not to mention NFP.

How's that for conspiracy theory?

KH said...

Clearly counseling should have been part of the severance package.

Sami said...

@XYZ: My apologies. It was harmless jest, no ill will between either of us.

@KH: Ha! You have no idea how true that is!

@Dubai Dude: What, no blackwater? Incomplete theory!

Various Anon commentators who then try to justify their anonimity with poorly written sentences that make little coherent sense: I am the first person to admit my shows were mediocre. Which is why I repeatedly clarified that the marketing of my shows is not what I think the channel needed, but overall marketing. Hell, both my shows were mediocre. But that doesn't mean the channel overall needed more marketing and sales focus. FM89 has a fantastic marketing team and see the success that it has brought the station.

@Irfan: You know, Play is a music channel that mixes english and urdu I think. Much as my parents hate it, Minglish is a fact of Pakistani life. Maybe that is the right way to go?

Samina said...

For what it's worth, Sami, I don't think your show was mediocre. There were problems with it but it was not mediocre.

Now The First Blast, that is a different story altogether.

As for the bias towards phoren-returned graduates, I think a lot of it is just hogwash. As someone who went to KU and has been in this profession for over five years, I have never been discriminated on the basis of where I went to college (except once). For some reason, many local graduates tend to feel intimidated by their foreign counterparts even though they have no reason to feel that way. I think it's a case of insecurity but then again, who isn't insecure these days? Still, no reason to let it prey on your mind like this.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with you guys? Has the world not just gone through a recession? On average -300,000 jobs have been lost every month since the last year and a half in the states. Don’t you guys have friends / family members / acquaintances that have lost jobs abroad? This is not something that just Dawn News had to do. Give them a break. Support them through these hard times instead of stooping so low and bashing them in every possible way. The Dawn Group took an initiative that no one did; they came up with an English language television channel. Is in their fault they tried to add value to Pakistan, that they tried to bring Pakistan to an international platform in a way no one had done so before? Is it their fault the market hasn’t mature enough to accept an English language channel? The group had been with Pakistan for 62 odd years. They are a legacy. You guys, being Pakistani’s should support them. Instead you guys are laughing and having a field day over this. Is this what we’ve become? It’s a shame. Do you really think they wanted to do this? People all over the world work for free in dire times with hope that in a matter of time there will be light at the end of the tunnel, they don’t turn around and start spreading malicious rumors about everyone. I know people who have worked at Dawn TV and will vouch that it is the best possible organization to work for in Pakistan. Given them the benefit of the doubt guys. They didn’t launch the channel with any other agenda but to serve the Pakistani people and to give them news and information they can rely on. It’s only with your support, the support of the nation that any local organization can thrive. They’ve served us and given enough us more than any monetary amount over the years, lets at least be mature and respect that.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I watch DawnTV regularly and any1 else who does will realize that their content has only tried to make a difference in our lives for the better. They didn’t sit there and prostitute themselves or compromise on their ethics for money like numerous others have. Complete admiration for them and I hope to things will turn around for them.

Omar R Quraishi said...

anonymous -- i don't see anyone really laughing here -- and clearly you didn't get that i used your own phrase which you used for sami shah -- point still remains -- woman or man or whatever, post under your own name if you want to run down people here --

Omar R Quraishi said...

wow -- lowest of the low -- commenting on someone's physical disabilities -- that basically kills any room for debate when anons resort to that

TT said...

I am a student at City School and would like to say that Dawn News TV is a very good organization. They came to our schools and would get us involved in cleaning up the city, painting a wall to beautify the city, they got is involved in donating to tcf schools, they would show us documentaries on meaningful issues & would bring the producers along so we could meet them. No one else had done this for us. Inshallah the urdu will also work for them and one day I will also work for them.

Omar R Quraishi said...

cafepyala management -- surely you have some kind of policy with regard to completely personal and uncalled for attacks on people's physical attributes here -- clearly the comment by anon on internal workings of the channel needs to be deleted -- freedom of speech is never absolute -- plus it doesn't mean you hide behind a shield of anonymity and make disparaging remarks that have nothing to do with the issue at hand

Dubai Dude said...

The news broken on this blog is now being resonated across Pakistani blogosphere. Here's one link:

Anonymous said...

"Seth ka khilona toot gya!"

Faiza said...

Please, PLEASE start moderating the comments on this blog, Cafe Pyala! If you must allow anonymous comments (since you're blogging anonymously, I guess you have to) then at least have a policy of filtering out the offensive ones. Might mean a little extra work for you, but quality matters. It's pure torture sifting through the junk to find the serious discussion here.

Ali said...

While I'm not trying to blame anyone here - I think another glaring and connected issue has been the lack of synergy between Dawn assets - between tv, online and print - which any old Tom, Dick or Harry could surmise by looking at each one at any given day.

Each asset it seems has been treated as a substantive entity - independent and separate and therefore the media group, it seems has failed to extend, generate or even syndicate brand loyalty across all these assets in a cohesive manner even though they all fall under the same brand umbrella.

For example - why isn't the Dawn TV news site - integrated with the Dawn.Com - which is the best vehicle to attract new audiences in and out of Pakistan. Why does Dawn TV have its own site - which is no more than it seems than a glorified TV listing.

Also - why is logo and branding different for Dawn News, Dawn.Com, Dawn - how can any audience understand instantly what the Dawn brand is?

Why not take sections from the newspaper and recreate them on the TV show - lifestyle: images( i know someone mentioned this) - books and authors, etc? Extend brand loyalty from print into TV. Online obviously does this automatically with print -and then some very well.

You can't call yourself Dawn without reflecting in some -form or extent all of Dawn's assets strategically and visibly.

From a business proposition, I believe DawnNews shouldn't have been called DawnNews. As firstly - the name implies English language and according to the powers that be, now that the proposed Urdu programming is coming to place - it's obvious they're chasing the market shares of the other desi language news channels - which they should have been doing from the beginning. In fact a rebranding - may go in their favour - as the Urdu element could mess with their other English language only assets - confuse people.

Also as for the matter of 'returned' graduates from other countries, the channel presented a strong statement. By choosing vaguely glamorous, pretty, young, NRPs with foreign educations and in some cases of foreign nationality, the channel was trying to attract and appeal to the same target market - which is fair enough. Lots of news channels try this approach. Yet it seems in the process, it hasn't been diverse enough in its 'casting' decisions to appeal to different demographics who watch English language. There should be 'faces of dawn' not just one face of dawn. A foundation stone should be competency, expertise and more importantly experience to establish integrity. This is a news channel not a Louis Vuitton ad campaign.

Dubai Dude said...

@Ali: I agree with your analysis about lack of synergy and interaction between Dawn the newspaper and Dawn TV. However, I do not agree about having a single website for both entities. Take the case of Jang and Geo, both have their separate websites. However, one may notice that is not as personality-specific as is, like a "glorified tv listing", as you have rightly said.

And certainly having pretty faces with foreign accents is not a winning combination. Taking example of Express 24/7 who is mostly using local talent and doing pretty well with that.

Dawn TV also tried to market itself through the web and social media but whether it is Twitter or Youtube, the approach was half-backed and mediocre.

IMO, Dawn has to come out of its phobias, get rid of seth and brown-sahib mentality. Frankly, they should first do a poll as of what percentage of Pakistani audience really want to watch a local English News channel.

XYZ said...

@Omar R Qureshi: Agreed re: personal attacks based on physical attributes, gender, sexual orientation or class.

@Anon625: Sorry, whatever valid points you may have wanted to put across, you lose your right with your absolutely vicious and pathetic personal attacks. Your comments are deleted.

@Faiza: While I agree with you re: the unfortunate rubbish that often ends up in the comments section, we also do believe in the free flow of relevant and valid information. Although we have attempted to reduce spam (which had begun to plague the comments) we have generally chosen not to moderate the comments:

1) To preserve the right of freedom of expression
2) To make the blog more interactive
3) To keep the flow of info easier
4) To reduce the lag times associated with moderated comments and to reduce the burden on ourselves.

Of course this assumes a certain amount of responsible behaviour on the part of those commenting. (It is also sometimes a difficult job to choose between pure rubbish and rubbish with a valid point.) But realizing that not everyone is as responsible or unbigoted (esp under the cover of aliases), we do sometimes step in (as above) to delete completely abusive comments. Depending on our work loads, however, this can happen very quickly or may take a little bit of time.

We really do not want to moderate the entire comments section of the entire blog but it would be nice if Blogger allowed comments on particular posts to be moderated. As far as I know it does not at the moment.

So, apologies but you may have to put up with this format for the time being at least.

Omar R Quraishi said...

thanks xyz -- makes sense

Hamza said...

Someone has asked this question earlier on, but how is Express 24/7 doing? Dubai Dude mentioned that they are doing better due to their usage of 'local talent'. This might be the case but is it a fair comparison to make? In my admittedly limited knowledge of the two channels, I had the impression that Express 24 was a more limited undertaking, i.e., no documentaries, no features, no 'star' anchors, etc. They marketed themselves as focused on the 'breaking news' cycle and seem reasonably content to remain that way. Would other people who know more about them agree? If they're doing well, isn't their model of an english language news channel worth replicating?

Perhaps Dawn should have started that way and gradually expanded into a broader market. Having said that, I have no idea if Express 24 is actually a financially profitable venture. For all I know, they could also be losing money, and are subsidied by Express News/the broader backing of the Lakson group.

Alireza said...

Interesting post with interesting theories and I thought, being an ex-Dawn Newspaper employee, I should also put in my two pence.

I still remember, being very young in the company, I heard Shakeel Masud saying something like Dawn News will be bigger and better than BBC and CNN and I thought, wait a second... this dude is flying very high. I am not discounting the fact that, to achieve something big you have to aim high but the flip side of the coin is you have to demonstrate the right skills at the right time. People are mostly blaming anchors, producers, sales & marketing etc but I think the real problem lies with the "Saith attitude" and top management. We all know its a Saith company and having been a part of it, I would say it is a very good company. Dawn Newspaper established its market and reputation on a span of more than six decades and they banked on this success so much that they overlooked basic business fundamentals and took it as an opportunity to grant favours to people.

I have always thought of Shakeel Masud as a good administrator but never a good manager. If it is a blame game, which we always like to play, I would also like to blame the saiths (Mrs Saigol and Hameed Haroon). It was their responsibility to choose the right people for the right jobs. They had all the resources to hire worldwide professionals in order to become a benchmark in the industry but they took it very lightly thinking success is just waiting outside the door. I agree to most of the comments about fake accents, nepotism etc. I feel it is not the employees' fault but the management's.

Running a show with no concrete strategy and experimenting with young people, as we say very aptly in Urdu "juma juma aath din kay bachay", was not an ideal start to begin with especially in such a competitive industry.

The concept of an English News channel was great but the execution was pathetic.

Salman said...

For those asking about Express 24/7. It isn't very profitable, it hardly receives any advertising, and its viewership is less than Dawn's. But the owners don't seem to care about adverts for now and are aiming for mediocrity.

The Express 24/7 model is to try and make use of Express Urdu's current resources as much as possible so as to minimize extra costs. So 24/7 has no bureaus of its own. Instead the 24/7 and the Urdu bureau function as one unit. They share the same cameras, cameramen, video editors, DSNGs, and office space.

Express 24/7 has its own reporters, but that's about it. Most of the news is just translated and recycled from Express Urdu.

This doesn't make for an amazing TV channel, but it will bring you the news in English.

As a former employee, I can tell you it is not the ideal place to work for serious journalists. So that is why none of the employees have any long term plans of staying with the company and are just waiting for an opportunity to leave.

But from the owner's point of view, running an English channel like this makes sense.

Faisal.K said...

Its sad to see that a channel which actually "reported" the news failed because all we want is sensationalism

Interesting post tho..

Anonymous said...

Just got done watching some of the WAS episodes on Youtube. Agreed with some of the comments, research was lacking and it showed through.
(p.s. am posting as anon because what i am about to wrtie next is most definitely going to get me into trouble with the military)
This is more of a swig at our Proud Army in general rather than you Wajahat but important pointers for you too:

- For any one who would undertake the research effort to find out the weapon used by our infantry and its up sides and downsides, you should have been actively been comparing weaponry with that darn soldier from the Multan regiments rather than take his bureaucratic bull for it. Following military trends, the GS G-3 (even the one manufactured by the Pakistan Army under license from H & K Germany), is by all means an impractical weapon. Its too big for one. lacks a proper mount for scope. Lack of a range undermines its effectiveness in the field. Pak Army could really have done with keeping the AK 47 as the main rifle. Slow rate of fire makes the G3 the worst main battle rifle for any army to carry in their arsenal. Here is the reason why many armies have switched to the 5.56 round compared to the 7.62 NATO. the 7.62, made famous by the AK 47 and then by the vietnam war where its complete destructive power came to fore. the ability to penetrate through trees while the 5.56 failed miserably. However, the recoil from the 7.62 is a real downer. The heavier lug also limits its range. the 5.56 has good repeat accuracy over longer ranges meaning that the US made carbines, the M4A1 and the M16 are great for field and close quarter usage thanks to their reliable auto and semi auto modes. The STEYR Aug, already being employed by the Marines, is infact a better weapon given it comes with a builtin 2x and 4x magnification scope varitations.

The LG 42, a world war II relic. the machine gun that chopped down row upon row of soviets and allied forces. However, while having a decent rate of fire, it suffers from barrel over heats which need to be replaced or rested after short intervals. Compared to some of the newer machine guns out there especially the FN versions and the SAW and the Chinese Mini Guns with rpm's of over 2000 bullets, offer good ammunition power to fire rate ratio with fewer problems. Verdict : LG 42 is a good weapon, but there are better models, on the market to replace it with.

The MP5 is a fine CQB weapon - no arguments or complaints there. 9mm at a good rpm coupled with stability, low recoil, fantastic weapon. just wish they utilise the MP5 SD as well for the Special Ops.

Anonymous said...

Now lets come to the main battle tank (MBT for short). Our MBT - the much publicised Al Khalid and Al Zarar tanks are based on the outdated T55 tanks. A relic of the 70's, this was the MBT for the soviet union before they made the monstrous and more powerful T72.

Over 40 years old, the T55 has lost its legs for a modern day battle. Its top speed is somewhere around 40 mph. Compare this with the Abrahams M1A2 which can easily reach speeds upto 72mph on a complete tank of gas, armour, personnel and ammunition.

The T55 also carries a smaller gun with a 105 mm compared to the 120 mm standard on the MBT of most countries.

The APC's are fine. they are built for a specific job and by and large manage to pull that off.

The Air support where we again fall weak. We invested heavily in the light assault helicopters in american made Cobras. Another piece of machinery mothballed by the Americans ever since they got the more versatile and powerful Apache AH 64. We, though are stuck with around 60 cobras. All this when we could have just as easliy have gone for the better armoured Soviet Hind. Now the hind beats any US AH hands down due to a couple of features. 1. Brute Strength - carrying the most armour than any other attack helicopter in its class. 2. Power - a whole array of arsenal at its display, from a deveastating 50 mm machine gun to rocket pads. 3. Speed - its surprising how some thing so heavy and so large could be so fast. the Hind actually has the record for the fastest attack helicopter, a record which it held for a number of years till the British Lynx came to the fore in the 80's. To add to this flying tank, it can even carry troops - this is one complete helicopter and its russian - like almost everyhting else in our army.

The Navy has been arming it self fine, while the Air Force should really have focussed on building a harrier jump jet fleet for the quick response / pre emptive strike, but i guess the JF 17 would do well.

The Army should really be made to fight for all the toys that it likes to play with. Public opinion on what the army is equipping it self is important. No the army does not always know whats good for it. People, especially since we are paying for all their toys, should have a say in what the Army should be equipped with.


Anonymous said...

p.s. if only you had gone through a few programmes on Discovery like Future Weapons, and Heavy Metal which compared various fire arms and main battle vehicles and some World War II programmes, read some books on strategy like Charles von Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, read books on battle strategy and the analysis of famous wars / battles, you really would have been in a good prosition to do this series. For the looks of it, you were fed crap by the Army and you took it as Gospel.

Mehr A. Khan said...

I have not read all that is written above but I have to admit that am happy for DAWN......why? because am sure the group launched it without any prior research.

As far as their Urdu news in February is concerned, I tend to disagree....they have no resource from Urdu background such as production team, anchors, editors and a lot more. If they somehow manage to come for Urdu news, it will be definite surprise for me.
They were so proud of their "Vilayat Palat" team, that they forgot the target market. News Channel does not cater what an up-market designer does to a niche market. Channels are for masses after all.

DAWN will soon be DOWN!!

wyseguy said...

@ Mehr, what kind of a weird psychopathic vulture are you?

Read what Karachi Khatmal says you annoying bitch, if Dawn News goes down a lot of ordinary people lose their jobs as well. I assume that cameramen and line staff are part of the "masss" you're screaming about.

Vulturous Bitch.

wyseguy said...

@ Military Anon @ 5:56pm

I will agree with you that WAS was certainly an uncritical look at the Pak Military. And I don't think that you should be scared about making the criticisms you've made, any body with an internet connection (or who's lived in Pakistan) can tell that the AK-47 is a much more environment resistant weapon than the G-3. In fact much of the criticism you have made about the military are more or less well known. Even wiki is enough for to find out what you said; minus the part about the tanks.

The reason I bring this up is because I liked the idea behind W.A.S, that at least somebody should lay out the basics of what the army is, where it's posted and what is the equipment it uses.

Once somebody gets the basics to the public, then we can all analyse and criticise.

I will agree with you on what you've said about the Cobra and the Al-Zarrar. However the reason we probably didn't take the Abrams was because if you recall the day Zia died he was going to see a test run on the Abrams and the M1A1 performed miserably in the desert environment around Bahawalpur.

So the Abrams might not be suited to the desert that well (despite it's operation in Iraq, I think it only saw battle against Saddam's outdated Soviet tanks for only 36-48 hours and travelled in large convoys along Iraq's main highways in the 2003 push).

Now The Hind. You do know Pakistani history right? We haven't procured stuff from the Soviets. Plus we were the ones who taught the Mujahideen to take down Hinds in the 1980's. You don't think we haven't reverse engineered some of those stingers?
So in the Pak military mind the Hind and the Abrams are out of the running.

I won't defend the Cobra, but the obvious reason we could not get the Apache during it's heyday of the 90's was because of the Pressler Amendment. And as for the Lynx, I don't know when was the last time Pakistan bought British military equipment.

When it comes to the Army's equipment, the Al-Khalid seems to be a decent tank. According to Das Internet it was based on the T-90, but honestly, when it comes to tanks, it's low flat design, and a speed comparable to that of the M1A2 (check wiki) seems to make it an acceptable tank.

Plus the real reason Pakistan went for the Al Khalid is again the Pressler Amendment. We needed domestic military production facilities. And the Al Khalid is the best we can do currently.

wYSeGuy said...

@ Military Anon @ 5:56pm

In all honesty anon, a lot of your criticisms can be answered with the question, "Can we produce it in Pakistan?" There are a lot of good internationally available weapons, the problem is that they are for countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey; i.e, trusted Alllies of the west not likely to use them in a war like situation. We're always two steps from being a rogue state. The big boys, Russia and the US, will always be very careful about anything they let us have.

As for your assesment on the JF-17 and the Navy, I always try to see what the enemy thinks. The Indians and the Americans verbally run down the Army regularly, but the Indians especially are very quiet when it comes to our Air Froce.

Here's a tip when listening to Slumdog's talk about Pakistan. If they find something to criticise they'll scream it from the rooftops. Observe their current focus on our stupid cricket team. But if something is working alright for Pakistan, it'll be the silence of the grave amongst those bastards. They have only acknowledged in a tight lipped way that Pakistan can produce the JF-17 and is looking into acquiring the J-10 in four years.
And they've also merely mentioned that we've got the F22-P Zulfiqar Anti-Submarine Frigate. No criticism. That must mean it's good.

By the way, I'm glad you mentioned those Discovery series. People complained about Wajahat Khan's behaviour on screen. IMO he did not behave any differently than many presenters do on Discovery's Military Channel. They also try to "get into the action" (ride tanks, shoot guns, para-junp of planes, etc.). If Wajahat did the same, so what?
At least we got to see how short, squat and dangerous an Al-Khalid looks. We need to first bring some sunlight to our dear old military and then judge how it spends tax payer's money. As a start, I think "We Are Soldiers" was a good way to begin the public's education on this military we have paid for.
First hear what the military says then we go out and see if it's true or not.

Lastly to show that I mean every thing I said in the most sincere of spirits, allow me to quote your last sentence.

No the army does not always know whats good for it.

Mate, 100% Agreed.

Anonymous said...

I m surprised evreyone here is blaming the management, the saiths, the staff, the phoren grads for the failure of DawnNews, but no one bother to name Abbas Nasir, the part-time editor of Daily Dawn and DawnNews, for it.

gibran said...


Am glad we never bought the Apache or the Abrams. The reasons - they are just too darn expensive to buy, maintain and run. Abrams chugs 8 gallons of fuel just on a start up - not good.

Check again, Al Khalid is built on the T 55, so is the Al Zarar. the difference in the two is only the local modifications that we have done at Kamra and Wah Ordinance complexes. (Thats what the army says)Just put on explosive reactive armor on the al khalid and some flares, a bigger petrol tank separate the AL Khalid from the Al Zarar. Saddam at least had the T 72 a much improved tank, we have the T 55s, approximately 2500 of them compared to 4300 centurion tanks that India has.

T 55, AK's and the APC's Al Saad are all Soviet military machines that we bought from neutral countries and during our improved relations with the Soviets during Bhutto's Socialistic leaning regime.

Replacing the G3 with the AK will be good due to a multitude of reasons - primarily we make indigenously a host of variations of the AK already, so that is one problem solved. Also, it is an incredibly cheap weapon to manufacture and extremely easy to teach to fire and maintain unlike other complex weapons.

We can never buy British weapons because we quit the Commonwealth and our alleged tendency to go "rogue".

Now, regarding Wajahat's programme, i agree with you, its a start, but the purpose of my comparison with Discovery's programmes was only to show how poor Wajahat's research and script were. Its a good effort, definitely!

Am perfectly fine with the JF 17 and the F-22P frigate or event the Augusta B submarines, for me the Air Force and the Navy are adequately armed, though i would like to see more Turkish made speed boats and see the Air Force replace the ageing Mirage fleet with faster multi-role fighters.

My real beef with the military is that for the strategy it says it has to counter India (the traditional enemy and for which we spend millions) we do not have the equuipment needed to counter that threat. We already buy from China, we need to look at expanding realtions with countries like Turkey, and SA (Danelle - take a look into their mobile artillery units)

Cobras are, well, if it were not for their greater ability to adapt to technology are pathetic compared to the Hind. And i rate the Hind over an Apache in terms of speed and fire power any day. Apart from the better technology in the american machines, the russian counterparts far outweigh!

And one little bit more of info - all American military equipment like the Apache, Cobra, Abrams, F16 carry small computers and transmitters which relay information about the operations of the machine back to the Pentagaon - and these instruments are active in all the cobras and F16s

Mehr A. Khan said...

@wyseguy: by masses I meant the audience and not the workers...its true that closure of any organization will hurt the employment. My only stance here is that DAWN is pursuing the worst strategy.

English medium news has no place among people who prefer Urdu news. During all this time, DAWN has failed to establish its image for authenticity or breaking news or political analyst.

If they keep following their old pattern,soon the Dawn will go down.

I wonder why all the above remarks makes me B****.

wYSeGuy said...

I wonder why all the above remarks makes me B****.

Because you sounded happy and breathlessly upbeat when you first said all these things.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the case with the gora kids, the burger kids working in a beautiful office space.. i have to say that as a former employee it is, or was, the best tv channel to work in, hardly any bureaucracy, resource shortages, clean environment, it was great. Trust me!

Dawn is a failed experiment. But it did do some things well-

Features became the benchmark for programming in Pakistan without a doubt. Brilliant programming hands down, no matter how much we cribbed.

Documentaries at Dawn impressed a lot of people. Maybe a few urdu subtitles could have helped increase viewership a long time ago.

Creative became a benchmark for the cleanest, crispest, most international graphics around.

We got trained. Cameramen got trained. Editors got trained. Animators got trained.

Wherever we go we carry a little bit of Dawn News with us, and that's as asset no matter what anyone says.

Now let's just get over it and move on.

Saqib Khan said...

Businesses fail for a number of reasons. And irrespective of the industry it is in, the reasons more or less are the same. The brand name does count a lot, but in the case of DawnNews, the name wasn’t that bad to trigger a collapse. And if name was the problem as someone suggested in the comments, the channel wouldn’t have gone even this far. The branding part worked just fine.

No, dawnnews is imminent to go down for other reasons. To explain the simplest of them, let me give an analogy, albeit a rough one. The ‘News’ industry of Pakistan is analogous to the restaurant industry. People in this part of the world devour what passes for news with as much fervor as they do food. It seems that before the ‘news’ wala came along; our solitary source of entertainment was eating out.

Now this has led to the perception that you just need to open a restaurant and sit back, people will come automatically. This perception has led to the downfall of many restaurants who opened up shop, did good business for a while, and then faded into oblivion.

What all these failed restaurateurs failed to realize is the same thing that Dawn News failed to realize. Which is, no matter how much thriving the industry, no matter how good your content, you need to market yourself intelligently. And for those who are trying to create a new category, even more so.

And you need to have enough moolah to stay afloat at least for the first two years. Breaking even before that period is rare, so don’t count on it. Dawn’s seths are reportedly bitter over the enterprise leaking money by the truckload. What did they expect, that they would open up an english news channel and make a profit just like that? No doubt DawnNews was able to churn out great content, but did they do it consistently and target the right audience?

Then if you read the comments on the two posts at Café Piyala about Dawn News, there’s so much negative vibe generated about the movers and shakers of the channel that this alone would have been sufficient to bring the house down. Clearly there was something wrong in their workplace environment, and that has never helped in brand building especially the infancy stage.

And it’s not a normal restructuring which someone suggested. Restructuring is internal and it doesn’t entail playing havoc with your brand essence.

However, the biggest problem with this drastic repositioning is that DawnNews has entered the rat race, and as they say:

‘The problem with rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat.’

Anonymous said...

DAWNnews is still doing better than Express 24x7 and will survive.