TV leaks: Veterans’ tips for anchors

Published Jun 16, 2012 09:02pm

A video grab showing Mubashar Lucman and Mehr Bokhari during their interview with Malik Riaz.

ISLAMABAD, June 16: The leaked video footage of two TV anchors featuring their controversial conversation with property tycoon Malik Riaz has not only put credibility of journalists under a cloud, but also raised a question why cameras and recording devices remain operational during commercial breaks and informal discussions in TV programmes.

Background interviews with a number of TV hosts, producers and technicians working in different organisations showed that such pilferages and thefts can easily be avoided by adopting certain checks in studios and following the available SOP (standard operating procedure).

Renowned TV anchor Syed Talat Hussain told Dawn that he had made it a practice in very early days of his career to mute audio and block visuals to the main control room from the studio during commercial breaks and informal sittings.

“I have been doing this since long. I became more careful after Dr Amir Liaquat’s episode,” he said, referring to the leaked footage of the host of a popular religious programme showing him using slang and objectionable language while talking to his guests and other staff in the studio during unguarded moments.

Mr Hussain was of the opinion that such embarrassing pilferages could be checked by adopting the SOP for media organisations all over the world.

Sabir Shakir, the bureau chief of ARY News in Islamabad, endorsed Mr Hussain’s viewpoint, but said it would be impossible to stop video theft if someone from within the organisation decided to violate the procedure.

Moreover, Mr Shakir claimed, it was very easy to grab the transmission of a TV channel by an individual or any other organisation if they had specified equipment.

He explained that most of the talk shows and other programmes involving politicians, lawyers, news analysts and other experts on current affairs were conducted in Islamabad, being the capital seat, but shows were telecast and recorded at the main control room in Karachi or Lahore, where head offices of most of the channels were situated.

The audio-video beam from the studios, he said, was sent directly to the central control room via satellite through an allocated frequency which was known to even a junior technician working in a channel.

Giving an example, he said it was a routine practice that the state-run Pakistan Television informed other private channels about their frequency address so that they could get the “clean feed” of any function for onward live telecast with their own logos.

He was of the opinion that the leaked video of the exclusive interview of the property tycoon on Dunya TV showing the two anchorpersons - Mubashar Lucman and Mehr Bokhari - exchanging highly incriminating remarks with Malik Riaz had been the work of an outsider.

Nadeem Ihsan, a senior manager technical (operations) in a news channel, said according to the SOP for live shows, the audio should be muted and the source should be changed from cameras during commercial breaks. He said his organisation had strictly been observing the SOP, but regretted that generally people working for TV channels did not care about it.

Editor (North) DawnNews Mubashar Zaidi said everyone was now talking about the need for observing the code of conduct without knowing that no such code was available.

The director news of a private TV channel said that after the release of the footage his management had directed studio crew to adopt certain special measures to avoid such incidents as it could cause embarrassment not only for the channel but also for the guests. Despite repeated attempts, no-one from the Dunya TV management agreed to speak on the issue on record.

However, the channel issued an official handout saying: “The management of Dunya TV regrets to admit a serious breach of its security protocols which resulted in theft of its ‘off-air’ footage by elements who wanted to scandalise both the judiciary and the media.

“Dunya TV has lodged an FIR against the theft of its ‘off-air’ footage. Dunya TV will be extending full cooperation to the two-member inquiry committee formed by the Supreme Court to unearth the facts of a well-planned conspiracy against the judiciary and the media.

“It must be noted that Dunya TV did not air any ‘off-air’ footage of its recording which was stolen by unknown conspirators and leaked on the internet the same way social media has been used to malign the honourable Supreme Court.

“The management of Dunya TV did not prompt any of the two anchors to ask any particular question at any stage during the transmission in question. It must be noted that the management of Dunya TV facilitates its editorial staff to the maximum, even at the expense of commercials, in special transmissions as has been happening in the past.

“We have also launched an internal investigation into the unfortunate incident and action will be taken against anyone found involved in facilitating the conspirators from within the organisation.”

* Outside illustration by Abro


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Comments (39) (Closed)


Ammad Malik
Jun 19, 2012 12:16pm
It may feel strange, because here in Pakistan we cetainly haven't been able to comprehend, that ends do not justify means. Theft of private property is theft, period.
sja
Jun 17, 2012 07:29am
You learn from experience, some experiences make new things happen, inventions etc, some experiences make old things new and new dimensions. In this situation one new experience for the media power brokers -------they learned in person for the first time that without their knowledge how OFF THE RECORD TALKS BECOMES ON THE RECORD TALKS, and besides being shown several times on various channels, all our anchor persons, surprisingly, like the famous quote of our Minister of Interior, that we have not worn the bangles, like ladies all these anchor persons have started emphasizing that God curse be upon them if they had done anything wrong. The dilemma for 62 years in Pakistan is all wrongs are rights, and as rights, people fight, and as people fight there is oversight, and then the matters become UPTIGHT, and then end up for JUSTICE for the rights and rights for the wrongs at the door steps of the Judiciary, and then the Chief Justice has to give his opinion and has to inquire for the rights and wrongs of the wrongs. The urdu kahawat is very applicable here ------ AAGAAY AAGAAAY DEKHIYAY HOTA HAY KYA.
shahinshah khan
Jun 17, 2012 11:46am
the only reason dunya tv not taking actions against the planted interview and rather against the leak n supporting the nchors is just because the name of Mian Aamir is also mention by luqman (anchore) that he n raiz pressurising me.
Agha Ata
Jun 17, 2012 01:10pm
Once it becomes a practice to make off the record conversation public, the participants would take proper measures not to let it happen again. But it would still be done, maybe outside the studio, in private meetings or elsewhere.... possibilities are many . . . . It simply cannot be controlled. You cannot control minds and thoughts. Anyway!
A CONCERNED CITIZEN
Jun 17, 2012 12:26pm
Fully endorse the views exressed above. It appears that the channel instead of holding its anchors responsible for staged drama in the name of interview, is shifting the issue to theft of its video. The public would have never known the truth behind this acting had it not been for this video.
nasir
Jun 17, 2012 09:24am
sja you summarized the paki psyche well. In practical terms the view of Capt Mansur should be a default to ensure transparency in reporting and presenting news to the public. Nasir
SAK
Jun 17, 2012 09:45am
Spot on, Azhar!
ali ahmed
Jun 17, 2012 09:35am
we salute the unknown HERO who uploaded the video in internet..he has done a great service ...
EA
Jun 17, 2012 09:45am
Dear Allen....the leak establishes links between the two hosts and Malik Riaz only. We may bring Abdul Qadir into it even because there was a call from him to the anchor. but does it ANSWER ,in any way, the allegation of more than 34 croros. Does it answer the luxurious lifestyle of an unemployed man whose father don't have a house and car of his own? Does it answer the question why does Shaheen Sehbai and Kamran Khan raised the question, initially in the media?
Ayaz
Jun 17, 2012 09:51am
Protect the whistle blowers. Social media zindabad!
Capt Mansur
Jun 17, 2012 08:25am
Off the record conversations should be made public always. It shows the true character of all our so called leaders/Anchors/jUDICARY etc..ISS HAMAAM MEIN SUB NAGEEN HEIN
Azhar
Jun 17, 2012 08:41am
Well efforts are being made in the wrong direction....Channels need to develop SOP not to let any channel run such planted and fake interviews rather than pre-empting to hide their filth
T Ahmed
Jun 17, 2012 02:49pm
So the veteran talk show hosts are giving advice on how to prevent the truth from accidentally becoming known to the public!!
Usman
Jun 17, 2012 10:32pm
I personally think that there must not be anything off the record.
Javaid
Jun 17, 2012 09:32pm
MOST of these Anchores are Actors not journalists and they are paid to do so --
Razzaq
Jun 17, 2012 06:04pm
The 19 comments above shows that an unsuccessful attempt by this channel to cover up it's follies is not acceptable.
omer
Jun 17, 2012 04:47pm
80% Politicians/Anchors/Army are corrupt ... We are shocked only because we were not aware of the inside story
Ali
Jun 17, 2012 03:39pm
Social Media is the new reality... Electronic media is a fraud..
Ajamal
Jun 17, 2012 10:25am
This incident has opened a window to bring out black sheeps among media, politicians and generals. A powerful, independent, above the board commission needed to do a full investigation.
Ibrahim Khan
Jun 17, 2012 10:22am
No one is discussing the need for ethical conduct by the anchors and talk show participants. Instead everyone is trying to hide the unethical shenanigans of their respective media houses and their employees. Morally we probably can't stoop lower than than this.
Shahid
Jun 17, 2012 10:01am
What is its relation to the contempt of judiciary? Yellow journalism is not new in Pakistan.
Omar
Jun 17, 2012 10:01am
Absolutely, well said! Its shocking to see the Dunya TV management reacting against the leaked footage rather than responding to the planted nature of the interview.......Phones being received from the Prime Minister's son, Mehar Bukhari saying openly to phrase a question differently so that it doesn't seem that it is planted, saying further that even though it is, but atleast it shouldn't seem that way! this is what needs to be investigated rather than how the footage was leaked. Shame on Dunya TV and PPP members claiming that this is a conspiracy against the channel to malign the judiciary, when they are themselves responsible for it!
Khizr
Jun 18, 2012 11:23am
Not really. Exposing corrupt politicians and leaders is the only way corruption can be fought.
Khizr
Jun 18, 2012 11:21am
Spot on dude. Time for the the people to uncover all the lies and half truths of the politicians, journalists and all corrupt people in power. More people should come forward to expose the corrupt and bribe takers.
Allen Johnsom
Jun 17, 2012 08:30am
Clear and simple: This leak has taken place with considerations to the stability of the Country. With out this leak people would have been mislead as in past 40 years and current high profile warfare in the country would have gone in "might is right" way; Chief Justice would have been removed based on malign and on the expense of JUSTICE, his truthful, honest and firm stand again corruption.
SSA
Jun 17, 2012 08:34am
Yes I agree i give a true picture in real colour of all those who participate. Furthermore some time it discloses real motive.
Ali
Jun 17, 2012 11:10am
Anything "off the record" is private and should NOT be breached. If we analyse our ownselves we will realize that the element of hypocrisy is embedded into the Pakistani society at all levels. The anchor persons are only humans, in fact Pakistani humans.
Ahmad
Jun 17, 2012 02:58pm
Shame for Dunya News and its two anchors who have always been boasting of their honesty. Both these anchors have been insulting the people in there interviews. In an interview, Malik was claiming of his BUSINESS WITH ALLAH. Shame for him also.
SHAHID PERVEZ
Jun 17, 2012 12:48pm
GREAT HERO WHO EXPOSE THIS VIDEO, CHIEF JUSTICE OF PAKISTAN IFTAKAR MUHAMMAD CHOUDRY YOU ARE LAST HOPE OF PAKISTAN WE ALL ARE WITH YOU PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!
Muhammad A Naseem
Jun 17, 2012 02:12pm
I am very disappointed to read this article. This incident informed the people of Pakistan the hidden faces of the TV anchors. It was preplanned attack on judiciary and due to those videos it wasn’t successful. On the other hand, the article is suggesting how in the future TV anchors can hide their PLANTED INTERVIEWS. The reputable organization like Dawn should avoid article like this.
adnan
Jun 17, 2012 02:02pm
the bottom line of the column is Its a crime to expose the self proclaimed Gods in media as it can put national interest at stake.
millerd
Jun 17, 2012 01:58pm
I don't personally feel that this media leak has caused much damage apart from eroding trust in media anchors. If anything it has done good. It revealed the sinister motives of anchors in the media who are listen to with almost blind faith . The incident also unmasked the media corruption. So it has done some good. I read in the media among the two anchors involved in complicity with Raiz Malik in maligning the higher judiciary , only one is sacked , I wonder why the other anchor person who was equally complicit was pardoned.? This nation demands that media personnel's should now be closely scrutinized for their unexplained overnight riches. Mr Lucman kept mockingly asking Riaz Malik in the clip about Baharia town plot similar to what Lucman kept repeating he purportedly gave to Hamid Mir. The remarks may have substance.
Ravian
Jun 17, 2012 01:34pm
Why try to hide something if there is nothing to hide.
Noortaj
Jun 17, 2012 07:52am
Its quite clear that Dunya News is cent percent involved in this planted interview.
najam
Jun 18, 2012 05:27am
Is someone asking management of Dunya TV to take action against themselves for this blatant and unprofessional act approach which in fact has exposed their evil approach towards journalism? By the way, what they (Dunya TV) were trying to show of giving un necessary extra ordinary coverage to a person who is well known of his evil nature.I believe both these anchors including all management should be sacked.
Muhammad Ali Sabir
Jun 18, 2012 04:44am
It is really strange to see that instead of punishing the devil (Dunya TV team and Malik Riaz) Dunya Management and our leaders have stand against the HERO who unearth the real picture. I Salute him/her, that was really a brave act, May Allah bless him
Quaid
Jun 18, 2012 07:30am
Why should news agencies be hypocrites? Why should they propagate hypocrisy by separating on-air and off-air conversations? Make your policies in board rooms and offices, not in front of a camera.
Hasan
Jun 19, 2012 11:45am
One simple question.How could not the chief justice notice the lavish life style of his son.Also includes the mother and daughters.His son has been on the take for years.Not possible for father not to know.
Ammad Malik
Jun 19, 2012 12:21pm
You feel that way because you are naive enough to believe that these shows are truth seeking exercises. All interviews and talk shows are conducted to achieve sensation hence driving up the rating, driving up the rate - to make more money. The degree to which a show is pre-conceived may vary, but the goal is very clear. That by design is flawed, if truth seeking is your objective in fact. The superficial thought process that has captivated most of our society, from the intellectuals to the blue collar worker to the youth all stems from this design. We are truly becoming a failed nation, not because of our leaders, but because of our people.