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The Emergence of Social Media & the Political Crisis in Pakistan
Unformatted Document Text:  Social media & political crisis in Pakistan 5 Taking advantage of the situation, local investors, particularly print media owners, started investing in the opening of private news channels and sophisticated websites (Freedom House, 2010). Now there are around 50 private TV channels, including national and local ones (BBC News, 2010). A majority of these channels focus on hard news coverage, particularly politics, terrorism and war-related news stories (Arif, 2010). Political discussion programs on private televisions are becoming popular among Pakistani audiences. In November 2007, when President Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in the country (Muralidharan, Dixit, & Khattak, 2008), the media started becoming more critical of the military regime and demanded the restoration of the constitution and democracy in the country (personal observation). Thus to control the content of private television channels, the government banned all the private news channels for over a month in November 2007 (Freedom House, 2010). The journalists were also threatened with arrests and punishment if they tried to cover any political protests against the government or the military establishment (Freedom House, 2010). This ban on the traditional media in Pakistan left journalists and the audience with no option but to rely on the Internet to meet their news and information needs and keep themselves updated about the ongoing political crisis in different parts of the country. In addition to the ban on broadcast media, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which was established on March 1, 2002, through an ordinance to facilitate and regulate the private electronic media (PEMRA, 2010), was given complete authority over the operation of private media including online media. Even today, all the licensing related to FM radio, satellite television, cable TV, and teleport comes under PEMRA, which can cancel the license of these electronic media anytime (PEMRA, 2010).

Authors: Arif, Rauf.
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Social media & political crisis in Pakistan 5
Taking advantage of the situation, local investors, particularly print media owners, started 
investing in the opening of private news channels and sophisticated websites (Freedom House, 
2010). Now there are around 50 private TV channels, including national and local ones (BBC 
News, 2010). A majority of these channels focus on hard news coverage, particularly politics, 
terrorism and war-related news stories (Arif, 2010). Political discussion programs on private 
televisions are becoming popular among Pakistani audiences.
In   November   2007,  when   President   Musharraf   imposed   a   state   of   emergency   in  the 
country (Muralidharan, Dixit, & Khattak, 2008), the media started becoming more critical of the 
military regime and demanded the restoration of the constitution and democracy in the country 
(personal observation). Thus to control the content of private television channels, the government 
banned all the private news channels for over a month in November 2007 (Freedom House, 
2010). The journalists were also threatened with arrests and punishment if they tried to cover any 
political protests against the government or the military establishment (Freedom House, 2010). 
This ban on the traditional media in Pakistan left journalists and the audience with no option but 
to rely on the Internet to meet their news and information needs and keep themselves updated 
about the ongoing political crisis in different parts of the country. 
In addition to the ban on broadcast media, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory 
Authority (PEMRA), which was established on March 1, 2002, through an ordinance to facilitate 
and regulate the private electronic media (PEMRA, 2010), was given complete authority over the 
operation of private media including online media. Even today, all the licensing related to FM 
radio, satellite television, cable TV, and teleport comes under PEMRA, which can cancel the 
license of these electronic media anytime (PEMRA, 2010).


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