Monday, July 26, 2010

Power Struggle at Express TV

We'd held off on posting about the changes at Express TV and Dunya TV - even though it has been some time now - in order to confirm the exact circumstances that led to Express TV's News Director Fahd Husain resigning and moving to Dunya. But there are still a few details that have eluded us. So, we're posting in the hope that one of our illustrious readers can fill them in.

Fahd Husain: standing his ground

The basics of the change that we have been able to confirm are as follows: About a month ago, Express TV ran a story by its reporter Imran Khan which painted a particular Lahore policeman in none-too-flattering light. The policeman had been caught on tape doing something (we're not quite sure whether it involved torturing a suspect or accepting a bribe, we haven't been able to get a copy of the report) which threatened his career prospects. Unknown to the reporter and the rest of the staff at Express, the said policeman was a relative of Abbas Athar, the editor of Urdu Daily Express and the titular overall head at the Express TV channels. Some of you may know the veteran journalist Abbas Athar, who co-hosts his own programme Kaalamkaar on Express TV and is also the person responsible for coining (as a sub-editor) the infamous "Idhar Hum Udhar Tum" line for a newspaper heading, commonly and mistakenly attributed to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

In any case, once the report began airing on Express TV, the aforementioned policeman called up his kin at the channel beseeching him to have the report stopped. Abbas Athar then called the News Director Husain, asking him to have the report killed. To his credit, Husain refused, citing the irrefutable proof contained in the footage. Having tried other avenues as well to block the report from further broadcast, Athar then in a fit of pique wrote out his resignation and went home. The report continued airing the whole day.

Subsequent events are more murky. According to one source, Lakson Group head honcho Sultan Lakhani then stepped in and tried to get Athar to change his mind and even ordered Husain to go to Athar's house to apologize and placate the veteran. This version of events is denied by Husain himself and other sources who say no apologies were involved. There are also claims that Dunya TV had already been courting both Athar and Husain before this fiasco and saw in it a perfect opportunity to step in. According to one source, a Dunya TV car was parked outside Athar's house for two days after news of events reached the outside world.

However events actually transpired, the end result of the power struggle at Express TV was that Husain ended up resigning (according to some, he was forced to resign as a compromise) and moving to Dunya TV as its Director News, while Abbas Athar rescinded his own resignation and is now back at Express. The entire drama did not take longer than one or two days.

Abbas Athar: Did he say "idhar hum udhar tum" to Fahd Husain?

Internally, staffers at Express TV were told that Husain had been asked to choose between his current affairs show Centre Stage and his administrative job as Director News because the latter had been suffering while the ratings of his show had also apparently gone down. As of yet, Husain does not have his own show at Dunya though he did make his first appearance on air as co-anchor during the breaking news about General Kayani's extension of service.

No news on what, if anything, happened to Mr Athar's compromised relative. I guess, if this proves anything, it is that the 'independence of the media' only goes so far.

P.S.: We would be happy to update this post if any of our readers have something substantial to add. You may also email us with details or proof if you would rather retain your anonymity.


theterrorland said...

"Some of you may know the veteran journalist Abbas Athar, who co-hosts his own programme Kaalamkaar on Express TV and is also the person responsible for coining (as a sub-editor) the infamous "Idhar Hum Udhar Tum" line for a newspaper heading, commonly and mistakenly attributed to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto."

Correction: In that time Mr. Athar was news-editor not sub-editor.

Plus, the veteran journalist had left the country when Gen. Zia was in power and thus became an American citizen. Now, with grace of God, he is a Pakistani-American!

You guys're really doin nice job. Keep it up!

ibteda said...

I could give you an update of how things are transpiring here at Dunya after yet another DN has joined.
I didnt know half of all this though. Very interesting.

Farrukh said...

so how may DN are there? Najam Sethi, Nasim Zehra, Moeed Pirzada, Fahd Hussain or the former PTV guy YBM?

Azzi said...


How can you forget the most incompetent of all director news ever? Owais - fake accent - Towhid.

Anonymous said...

Being an ex-express [24/7] employee I can just add that we had been hearing rumors of Bilal Lakhani and Fahd Hussain having issues getting along as well. I think there was a power trip issue and this event just was the perfect opportunity for S. Lakhani to let go off Fahd Hussain. Fahd Hussain scared the crap out of us but he was really good for the channel. He knew how to run a newsroom and I'm sure is much better of. Express (Television Media Network) has very biased HR policies and if the hire ups [read: those with the surname lakhani] don't like you they really make your life miserable. Thank God most of us [the pioneering team of express 24/7] left at a good time!


Anonymous said...

Last week Mubasher Lucman during a discussion with some of the staffers of Express TV while he was sitting in tne cafeteria claimed that it was he who convinced Lakhani to get rid of Fahd Hussain. He also claimed that his next target is Abbas Ather So we can expect that this reunion is going to happened in Dunya Media Group.