Ramazan is a ratings gold mine for channels as fewer people venture out after a long day of fasting, yet the quality of broadcasting seems to be a race to the bottom. It is a huge missed opportunity, one which could so easily be used to educate, inform as well as entertain audiences.
Ramazan – which was once known as the month of restraint, tolerance, patience and charity – has now become a season for the profit seeking television enterprises to sell religion in the name of Ramazan to get high ratings and make good money.
The problem with television broadcasting in Pakistan is that everything is plentiful, be it news channels, Ramazan transmissions or game shows on them. In this proliferation of such transmissions, the least attention is given to the script that can actually make a difference. Here the hosts of the shows are only required to have enough charisma and be enough impudent to look good on the screen. It doesn’t matter if they know something about the subject or not.
This problem is also solved as recently, The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on May 9th, 2018 declared that not actors, cricketers or models but PhD scholars should talk about religion on TV channels.
What do all these programs say about our values, our attitudes? Inciting religious violence, the complete lack of tolerance, the display of arrogance, hypocrisy and materialism; is that the spirit of this sacred month?
Lost in all this cheap sensationalism is the essence of this month of self-discipline and self-denial.So who is to blame? Who rewards these people despite their inappropriate behaviour?
The sad truth is, it’s the audience. It’s easy enough to turn the tide against such behaviour, instead of laughing at their lack of manners and railing against these crude displays why not use the power of the remote?
In a month geared towards maximizing worship, how about opening up discussions on tolerance and learning how to deal with religious issues without extreme or violent responses?
There are plenty of well educated, charismatic and well-spoken religious scholars both in Pakistan and in the Pakistani diaspora throughout the world who could lend this season’s programming some much needed depth and gravity but are being ignored in favour of celebrities.
How wonderful it would be if these TV shows could highlight and reward the youth and leaders engaged in projects that lift up society and raise awareness about issues like domestic violence and mental health.
While there is nothing wrong with giving away grand prizes and having fun, the focus on winning at any cost seems to be pushing important issues and the less fortunate amongst us, already marginalized by society, even further back in to the shadows.