The first ever report on Mapping Digital Media on Pakistan was launched today here in Islamabad. Huma Yusuf, a senior journalist and lead author of the report, presented her findings. The event was attended by leading journalists, media practitioners and representatives from the regulatory bodies, civil society and researchers from academia.
The report describes Pakistan’s evolving media landscape, with focus on key areas, including changes in media consumption patterns; the role of public service media; growing internet access and online engagement; the impact of new media technologies on journalism practices; spectrum utilisation and media licensing; the media industry’s financial model; and existing media policies and regulations.
Huma Yusuf, international media researcher and author of the report, shared her views on the report and said; “There has been a proliferation in broadcast media outlets since deregulation in 2002 and a phenomenal expansion of Pakistan’s telecommunications and information communication technology sphere. The country has great potential for media to grow, inform and play an important democratising role in the age of digital convergence. However, the media’s potential could be undermined by the industry’s infrastructure, regulatory weaknesses, and an overall lack of awareness of the media’s role in a democratic set-up”. “We are sure that the stakeholders in Pakistan will greatly benefit from this extensive research”, she added.
The launch of the report on Pakistan is part of the global Mapping Digital Media project, which examines the changes in-depth, aims to build bridges between researchers and policymakers, activists, academics and standard-setters across the world. It also builds policy capacity in countries where this is less developed, encouraging stakeholders to participate in and influence change. At the same time, this research creates a knowledge base, laying foundations for advocacy work, building capacity and enhancing debate.
On the occasion, Marius Dragomir, senior manager and global publications editor for the media program at the Open Society Foundations, said, “the Pakistan Report completes the 44th segment in the global mapping digital media project. As such it offers a unique opportunity for comparative research that puts Pakistan’s media evolution in an international context.”. He further said, the Media Program of the Open Society Foundations has seen how changes and continuity affect the media in different places, redefining the way they can operate sustainably while staying true to values of pluralism and diversity, transparency and accountability, editorial independence, freedom of expression and information, public service, and high professional standards.
The Mapping Digital Media project assesses, in the light of local values, the global opportunities and risks that are created for media by aspects impacting media developments such as, the switch-over from analog broadcasting to digital broadcasting; growth of new media platforms as sources of news; convergence of traditional broadcasting with telecommunications.
Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide—news about political, economic and social affairs.
Local researchers and partner organizations in each country produce the Mapping Digital Media reports. Cumulatively, these reports will provide a much-needed resource on the democratic role of digital media.
In addition to the country reports, the Open Society Media Program has commissioned research papers on a range of topics related to digital media. These papers are published as the MDM Reference Series.