Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Money Talks

Guess who was spotted on November 9 in Washington D.C. at a reception for American and Pakistani media personnel thrown by US AfPak ambassador Richard Holbrooke's media assistant Ashley Bommer? Mir Ibrahim Rehman, scion of the house of Jang and CEO of the Geo TV Network. He walked in with The Friday Times editor and Dunya TV's Najam Sethi but stayed long after Sethi left the party.


Mir Ibrahim Rehman (c) at his master's convocation earlier this year


Mir Ibrahim (MIR) apparently jetted in for a mysterious three-day visit to the US, during which, our sources say, the main objective was to convince the US administration that Geo was neither anti-US nor anti-democracy, the line being peddled by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government. MIR also wished to gather official American support for the Jang Group against the PPP boycott of the group as an instance of an assault on freedom of the media.

Our sources claim that MIR did not find too much traction among US officials against the idea of a media boycott, perhaps because the Obama administration itself has a similar boycott against Fox News (albeit without the shoe-throwing rent-a-demos and vile grafitti scrawls against Fox News owners). However, what is particularly interesting about the Jang Group's attempts to woo the American establishment is the fact that there has been apparently a lot of discussion within the US government about whether it should support and even subsidize a media group that has no qualms about running shrill propaganda against the US, and sometimes even promoting a pro-Taliban line. In particular, Hamid Mir's contribution to whipping up Blackwater hysteria in Pakistan, Ansar Abbasi's rants about Western puppets, and the space given to nutjobs such as Zaid Hamid (Aag TV) and Ahmad Quraishi (Aag TV and The News) have apparently raised quite a few eyebrows in the US administration.

The Americans have reason to be upset with the Jang Group, and MIR has reasons to find their upset unsettling. The running of the banal American propaganda Voice of America (VoA) programme Khabron Se Aagay [Beyond the Headlines] as an 'advertorial' on Geo since 2005 has netted the Jang Group and its owners, by some accounts, millions of US taxpayer dollars. Although the exact 'compensation package' doled out to Geo by the US government is still secret, it should be noted that the deal between Geo and VoA was mediated during the Bush-Musharraf era by the then Information Secretary Anwar Mahmood and advertising whiz-kid Asif Salahuddin, the latter of whom is reputed not to touch 'small' deals. Apparently, part of MIR's discussions with the US administration included those on the future of the Geo-VoA deal.

Incidentally, while Najam Sethi was ostensibly in the US for medical check-ups and may have been present at the Bommer reception only coincidentally, as we have reported in the past, he too has been trying to persuade American-backed NGOs to fund a new 'liberal' channel to be headed by him.

Coming back to MIR, it seems that more than American upset, a potential threat of withdrawal of lucrative financial support may be the trigger for a panic at the Jang Group. As they say, bullshit may walk but it's money that talks. I have a strong feeling that you may well see the (media) house line shifting very soon. If you suddenly begin to miss the casual anti-US vitriol in the group's publications and on Geo, you'll know why.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

At least he was not in Washington for a Halloween party...

Shahid said...

Oh shit, more fodder for Zaid Hamid, Ahmed Quraishi and Shireen Mazari

Ahsan said...

If the story about Najam Sethi is true, it's sad. Tying liberalism to a foreign country will make it even less palatable than it already is.

Ali K Chishti said...

What's so wrong in it? Okay, I had supported President's Zardari's presidency and still thinks although critically that PPP should continue but what's wrong with GEO when it criticizes even if they goes overboard? I don't know there seems to be a bone or two to crack with GEO here and highly, un-cafe-payala post...sad...just sad!

Anonymous said...

Perfect post. <3 it.

Anonymous said...

@CPM the last lines of your post say it all:

"I have a strong feeling that you may well see the (media) house line shifting very soon. If you suddenly begin to miss the casual anti-US vitriol in the group's publications and on Geo, you'll know why."

So you want Jang Group to go on as the mouthpiece of the ISI, huh?

And your source may be the secret agency itslef to stop the group's possible paradigm shift!

Aamir Mughal said...

No harm in visiting USA even visiting US Central Intelligence Headquarters but GEO TV/JANG GROUP/The News International must stop this "Lecturing", "Fatwa Baazi", "Sanctimonious Sermons", and Hyper Nationalism in view of REFERENCE: PRESS RELEASES VOA Launches Urdu TV For Pakistan 11/13/2005 For more information, call VOA’s Office of Public Affairs http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/pakistan/h05111301.html

Anonymous said...

"Managing Director of GEO TV is a brother of polluted minded Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the biggest liar of current century and some programs on GEO TV looks like scripted by ISPR or ISI."

http://criticalppp.com/archives/29259

Anonymous said...

and than they ask that why we hate America?
because it can't stop itself from meddling in our affairs

how would Americans feel if they find out that CNN is taking money from Pakistan in return for the projection of pro taliban line on CNN?
and of-course VOA khabroon sa aaga is all propaganda and it is not just limited to Geo, the show was also being aired on some other local channel probably AAJ

and don't forget about the propaganda laden BBC news bulletins which are being aired at almost all entertainment FM radio channels round the clock

Magnum said...

Geo and the Jang Group go about spouting hatered and wouldn't stop if a Pakistani asks them to.

Geo really has gone seriously bonkers. It has outfoxed FOX in utter, yellow journalism.

Of course the US is concerned. Geo has become a reactionary party and I for one would be all for a more liberal TV channel.

It's getting sickening, with all these news channels on the same reactionary, hate spouting bangwagon.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
At least he was not in Washington for a Halloween party...


HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAH

Anonymous said...

readers might also be interested that the Express Group has also closed a 5 million USD deal to present VOA programming on Express TV.

yawar said...

Amreeka zindabad.

Typical pakistan. Gali doh US koh, aur phir Dollar manglo.

pak govts do that, the Army does that, the Mullah parties did that through out the Cold War, and now our TV channels are doing the same.

Don't they have any shame?

All these fuckers - TV channels, Army, politicians and bloody mullahs - go on and on about the 'evil Amreeka,' and then ask for more cash!

yawar said...

Also, Najam Sethi certainly has more right because he doesn't spend all his waking hours cursing the US.

Anonymous said...

I really hope Najam Sethi does not go for American govt funding. Please!!no..

Anonymous said...

Geo tau aisay :) Jiay geo :P

afp said...

Mir's corporate policy is smart. Bring in Naji as well as Ansar Abbasi to satisfy all segments of Paki society. The real danger is from Ansar Abbasi-types who legalise flogging a teenage girl, take Talibanized and extremist lines, hammer every liberal citizen of Pakistan. Now the Abbasi-Noorani duo's hypocrisy is all out in the open. Bang Hamid Saeed Kazmi in the veil of corruption in Haj matters. Their own professional ethics allows them to stoop to the abyss of taping conversations with their sources in attempt to blackmail them in furure.

Anonymous said...

CPM or XYZ

I have a request. Not all of pyala's readers work in the media industry so it would be great if you can do a post on media ownership. Many of us would love to know who owns what since that helps a lot in putting things in to perspective.