Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Revolt Against Mr Jeem

So, remember that we tweeted about the return of Mr Jeem (Jeem for Jaahil) Online, Aamir Liaquat, to Geo all the way back on June 20? We had also tweeted that our sources were telling us that the return had been pushed through on the insistence of CEO Mir Shakilur Rahman's mother, the family's matriarch to whom Mr Jeem had gone abegging, and whose diktat could simply not be refused by anyone in Geo. Not only was the disgraced televangelist brought back and offered his own show (for which Geo has been running teasers and quarter-page advertisements proclaiming 'Someone is Coming'), he was ushered into the position of Vice President of the entire Geo TV Network, Group Executive Director and Editor Religious Affairs.

The teaser print ad for the return of Aamir Liaquat on Geo

Well, it seems a full blown revolt has now erupted within Geo's editorial management over this. Among the people said to be extremely unhappy with this turn of events are Managing Director Geo News Azhar Abbas, Director Content Development Muaaz Ghamdi and star anchors such as Sana Bucha (Lekin), Najam Sethi (Aapas Ki Baat) and Iftikhar Ahmed (Jawaabdeyh). Many others have also signed an internal petition being circulated against Mr Jeem's reappointment.

While it is not clear if anyone else has offered their resignations, Sana Bucha refused to conduct her programme on Friday and Saturday, leading to Meray Mutabiq's  Maria Memon being drafted in as a stop-gap arrangement, while the official explanation given was that Ms Bucha was busy in "personal engagements." Our sources tell us that Ms Bucha has indeed tendered her resignation at the return of the charlatan preacher and that the resignation has now been accepted. According to our sources, she had been explicitly promised that, if Mr Jeem were ever to return to Geo, she would be free to refuse to continue. Some sources claim she even had it written into her contract though we cannot verify this. If that is indeed true, that is forward-thinking the likes of which we have not heard of before in the Pakistani media. It remains to be seen if any of the others at Geo take a stand over this or whether Ms Bucha will become the revolt's sole sacrifice.

 Sana Bucha has resigned over Aamir Liaquat's reinduction

There are also some reports that she is already in talks with Dunya to take over the slot left vacant by the sacking of Mubasher Lucman over the Malik Riaz interview fiasco, who himself has now been picked up by ARY. If these reports are correct, it would be interesting to see Ms Bucha sharing channel space with Meher Bokhari, especially recalling that they are not on the best of terms to begin with. Suffice it to say, however, it seems no scandal is big enough - recall Aamir Liaquat's vitriolic and widely condemned religious zealotry and the expose of his personal hypocrisy, Lucman's and Bokhari's flouting of all professional ethics etc. - to make the media actually take stock of its blatant shortcomings and prevent it from hiring the same professionally disgraced people.

What is also quite clear is that Mr Jeem's return just before the advent of Ramzan has as much to do with an economic bottom line as pressure from the Rehman family matriarch. When he left Geo in 2010 for ARY, Geo attempted to fill his ubiquitous Ramzan programming with a slew of celebrity hosts (such as Junaid Jamshed and Reema) but ended up making far less money than they used to in previous 'holy months' when he fronted the programming.

And that's what the real 'Geo Asool' is all about. Money.