January Issue 2008
Wake Up, It’s a Beautiful Morning
“I just love to begin my mornings with the Nadia Khan Show on Geo. She makes you laugh with her spontaneity, and I feel a happy start usually leads to a pleasant day,” says Fatima Arifeen, a diehard fan of the show and mother of two school-going children.
The Pakistani electronic media has come a long way since its inception in 1964. Until recently, broadcasts were generally concentrated in the afternoons and prime time. As production capabilities improved, the idea of extending programming into the early morning and late evening became more attractive. The recent boom and emergence of a number of private channels have introduced the concept of 24-hour entertainment in the country.
Today, morning shows have become a routine aspect of our television viewing habits. Most Pakistani channels, public and private, present a breakfast show every morning. The shows are informal and relaxed and usually have sets depicting a living room atmosphere with bright sofa sets and coffee tables. The cheerful and friendly hosts act as a conversational link to the audience and interact with them in a light and cheerful manner.
In Pakistan, Indus Vision is considered a trendsetter. In 2001, it became the first private channel to introduce a morning show. It was followed by Nadia Khan’s show on ARY Digital and many others. However, it was the state-run Pakistan Television that actually laid the foundation of morning transmission in the country. Subha Bakhair, PTV’s live morning show in the late ’80s, which was a novel concept at that time, became hugely popular among all sections of society. The show was hosted by famous writer, actor and media personality Mustansar Hussain Tarar and Qurat-ul-Ain Ali.
“I remember my school days in the late ’80s, when we only had PTV to watch,” recalls Hasan Shahid, a young bank executive. “The morning transmission at that time came as a wave of fresh air and we fell in love with Chachaa Jee’s (Mustansar Hussain Tarar as he was popularly known) unique, unconventional style.”
These days all the morning shows begin between 9 and 10 a.m., except Breakfast at Dawn which starts at 7 a.m. Since most people, apart from housewives, have left their homes by then, these shows mainly target that demographic. The mood of the programming is upbeat, with inspirational or positive thoughts for the day.
While a few shows comprise short, unconnected segments, others have detailed programmes, each focusing on a particular subject. These shows have been designed keeping in view the lifestyle and interests of Pakistani women. Though they remain preoccupied with their daily house chores and family issues, these women have always had an interest in fashion, entertainment, beauty, home dÃ©cor and, of course, cooking.
Live telephone calls have been an integral part of all the morning shows and a great source of revenue generation for the channel as call rates can be as high as 14 rupees per minute plus taxes. A large number of viewers, mostly women, participate in the shows through telephone calls. However, some complain that they are put on hold for several minutes before getting connected to the studio. But the desire to hear their voice on television often compels them to make that call.
“I once made a call to a morning show. They kept me on hold for several minutes before connecting me. It was the most expensive call in that month’s telephone bill and my husband was really ticked off. So I never called again,” recalls Mrs Fehmida Zaheer, a housewife from Karachi.
Since all the networks target the same audience, they vie for attention by inviting the most popular personalities from all walks of life and by injecting elements that would go down well with their core viewership. These stylistic variations reflect a continuing search for the ideal morning television show.
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