Showing posts with label Broadcasting in FATA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Broadcasting in FATA. Show all posts

Tribal News Network in Pakistan will start producing local news for mobile phones

Photo courtesy by Hani Tah
The radio and online news outlet Tribal News Network (TNN) in Pakistan reports on areas and topics which the mainstream Pakistani media usually overlook. TNN news bulletins are currently broadcast on local radio stations in the local language, Pushto, and online in Pushto, Urdu and English. Soon listeners will be able to simply call a number on their mobile phones to listen to TNN news bulletins.

Tayyeb Afridi, the co-founder and director of TNN, emphasized the importance of the new mobile phone news bulletins: “Lots of people in rural areas and in some urban areas don't have access to a landline phone or to television. But they have a mobile phone, especially in the Tribal Areas, to speak to relatives and family members.”

TNN was established in 2013 to produce independent news in Pushto for the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in northwestern Pakistan, and the nearby Tribal Areas along the border with neighbouring Afghanistan. In troubled Pakistan, mainstream news outlets focus heavily on politics and security issues. TNN however makes a point of reporting also on developments in health, education, business and culture. Tayyeb Afridi, the director of TNN, talks about the impact the organization is having, the new mobile phone news bulletins, and a documentary about the news outlet broadcast internationally on Al Jazeera television.

What is TNN about and how is it developing?

“In 2013, we started producing news bulletins for local radio stations. These five-minute daily news bulletins are broadcast by a number of local radio stations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Tribal Areas. We also have radio partners in eastern Afghanistan, so our bulletins are broadcast there as well. Furthermore, we also train local radio reporters, for example in radio skills and in physical and digital security.
What makes us different from other media is our focus on local news. The mainstream media focus on security issues and ignore social issues in the rural areas. Our focus is broader, so development and good governance, for example, are important topics for us.
Now we're going to produce news bulletins which can be listened to on a simple mobile phone. We're going to produce hourly news bulletins of 2 minutes, every day between 8am and 8pm.”

Why is it an advantage to broadcast your bulletins via mobile phone?

“Mobile penetration in Pakistan is excellent, and now it is increasing in the Tribal Areas because mobile companies have extended their coverage to these far- flung areas. In the last few years, mobile penetration has dramatically risen. Moreover, our news bulletins will be available free of charge. The production of news bulletins for mobile phones will give us the opportunity to offer our news bulletins to a wider audience.”

In the 25-minute documentary that Al Jazeera television broadcast recently about your organization, one of the highlights is the fact that TNN is one of the few media outlets in your area of Pakistan that employs women. Can you elaborate on that?

“In the Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, women can't always work or go to school, or can't leave the house without covering their faces. It is very unusual to find female reporters in our conservative part of Pakistan.
We started an internship for female reporters. At the moment, our assistant-producer and six of our 35 reporters are women. I think it is important to have female journalists -- they can get access to stories that men cannot report on.”

Do your stories also help the communities you report on?

“Change in the communities is an important aspect of our project. If people have a problem, for example, water shortages or problems with the electricity, they text or call us. Our reporters talk with the responsible representatives and report about the issue.

A good example of a report that made a difference was the story of a female student who had topped the Education Board exams and, as per government policy, she became eligible to receive a scholarship from the government for further education. But she was denied that for a few months for no reason. She sent a text to us complaining that she had not been given a scholarship. Our reporter contacted the Minister of Education and he took strong notice of this news and directed the education authorities to award a scholarship as promised by the government. She received her scholarship within two weeks.”

This interviewed appeared on Free Press Unlimited Website:

Why was TNN established?

BBC Urdu Reports on Tribal News Network

Presenter at TNN recording news bulletin. Photo courtesy Hani Taha

BBC Story on Tribal News Network 
’دا دے ٹی این این خبرونہ دی۔ زہ یم ناہید جہانگیر (یہ ٹی این این کی خبریں ہیں، میں ہوں ناہید جہانگیر۔۔۔‘
پاکستان کے قبائلی علاقوں میں بیٹھ کر پاکستان کے غیرسرکاری اور نجی نشریاتی ادارے کی جانب سے تیار کی گئی ایسی خبریں یقیناً اس خطے کے لوگوں کے لیے اچھی تبدیلی ہے۔ پاکستان کے قبائلی علاقوں اور خیبر پختونخوا میں ایک دہائی سے زائد عرصے سے جنگ صرف بندوق کے زور پر نہیں لڑی جا رہی بلکہ معلومات کی فراہمی یا عدم فراہمی کے ذریعے بھی مدد لی جا رہی ہے۔
قبائلی علاقوں میں آزاد میڈیا آج بھی ایک خواب ہے جس کی تعبیر حاصل کرنے کی کوشش پشاور کی ایک نجی تنظیم نے کی ہے۔
اب تک اس علاقے کے لاکھوں کی آبادی کو معلومات کے حصول کے لیے یا تو سرکاری ریڈیو یا پھر غیرملکی نشریاتی اداروں پر انحصار کرنا پڑتا تھا۔ جن علاقوں میں شدت پسندی کا مسئلہ ہے، وہیں معلومات سے متعلق خلا بھی موجود ہے۔
بلوچستان اور قبائلی علاقوں میں معلومات کو پاکستان کے مرکزی دھارے کے میڈیا نے آج تک نظر انداز کیا ہے۔ ان کی ضروریات کیا ہیں اور کیسے پوری کی جا سکتی ہیں اس پر کم ہی دھیان دیا گیا ہے۔
مقامی میڈیا سرے سے موجود ہی نہیں۔ شدت پسندی سے متاثرہ علاقوں میں مقامی میڈیا کا پنپنا ابھی بھی مشکل ہے۔ ٹرائیبل نیوز نیٹ ورک نامی ایک غیرسرکاری نجی تنظیم نے قبائلی علاقوں اور خیبر پختونخوا میں ریڈیو کے لیے یہ انوکھی سروس شروع کی ہے۔
پشاور میں قائم ٹرائبل نیوز نیٹ ورک ان علاقوں میں نجی ایف ایم ریڈیو سٹیشنوں کو پشتو زبان میں دن میں دو مرتبہ مفت خبریں مہیا کرتا ہے۔ ٹی این این کے روح رواں اور بانی طیب آفریدی کہتے ہیں قبائلی لوگوں میں بھی حالات و واقعات سے اپنے آپ کو باخبر رکھنے کا اتنا ہی شوق ہے جتنا کسی اور خطے کے انسان کا ہوگا۔
’انھیں کسی آزاد مقامی نیوز ریڈیو چینل کی کمی کا سامنا ہے جو ان کو متوازن اور تنقیدی پہلو کو سامنے رکھتے ہوئے خبریں مہیا کر سکے۔ سرکاری ریڈیو کے علاوہ اب فوج کے تعلقات عامہ کے ادارے آئی ایس پی آر اور فرنٹیئر کور کے ریڈیو آئے ہیں لیکن وہ تفریح پر زیادہ توجہ دیتے ہیں۔ ٹی این این بنانے کا بنیادی مقصد یہی تھا کہ اس کمی کو انھی کے علاقے سے پورا کیا جا سکے۔‘
یہ ادارہ فی الوقت پانچ ایف ایم چینلوں کو یہ بلٹین مہیا کر رہا ہے۔ نجی ایف ایم سٹیشنوں کو خبریں چلانے پر ابتدا میں آمادہ کرنا طیب آفریدی کے لیے مشکل مرحلہ تھا۔ وہ خود بھی بیرونی امداد سے یہ منصوبہ چلا رہے ہیں۔
’ہمارے پاس اتنے پیسے نہیں تھے کہ ان کو دیتے یا ان کا ایئر ٹائم خرید سکتے۔ تو ہم نے بتایا کہ آپ اگر خبریں خود تیار کریں گے تو وسائل چاہیے ہوں گے، ہم آپ کو ان خبروں کے بدلے ریڈیو کی تربیت دیں گے جس پر وہ تیار ہو گئے۔‘
اس خبر رساں ادارے کے قیام کا بنیادی مقصد قبائلی عوام کو تنقیدی خبریں فراہم کرنا ہے تاکہ وہ اپنے سماجی اور سیاسی موضوعات پر بہتر انداز میں بات کر سکیں۔
خیبر ایجنسی میں تہذیب نامی ریڈیو سٹیشن بھی خبریں نشر کرتا ہے۔
اس چینل کے ایاز رضا آفریدی سے یہ خبریں نشر کرنے کی وجہ جاننا چاہی: ’اس سے ہمارے سامعین کی تعداد بڑھی ہے اور ہمیں تیار خبریں مل جاتی ہیں۔ قبائلی علاقوں میں نہ تو کیبل ہے اور نہ ٹی وی، اخبار بھی دیر سے پہنچتا ہے۔ تو ہمارے لیے مارکٹنگ کی تربیت بھی بہت ضروری ہے۔‘
شدت پسندی سے متاثرہ علاقوں میں پاکستانی سکیورٹی ادارے غیر ملکی سٹیشنوں کو موقع نہیں دینا چاہتے۔ ان کا کہنا ہے کہ عسکری جنگ کے ساتھ ساتھ وہ نفسیاتی جنگ بھی لڑ رہے ہیں جس میں غیر ملکی اداروں کا کوئی کام نہیں۔
تاہم اس مقامی لوگوں کے لیے مقامی سٹیشن کے ذریعے مقامی خبروں کا امتزاج کیا رنگ دکھا رہا ہے۔ میں نے خیبر ایجنسی کے ہی چند باسیوں سے دریافت کیا تو ان میں سے اکثر نے موسم کا حال، شوبز نیوز اور زیادہ مقامی خبروں کا تقاضا کیا۔
اس منصوبے کے لیے غیرملکی امداد ہمیشہ کے لیے نہیں۔ لہٰذا طیب مستقبل کے بارے میں بھی سوچ رہے ہیں: ’ہم تین چار منصوبوں پر کام کر رہے ہیں۔ ان میں سے ایک اشتہاری کمپنیوں سے سپانسر حاصل کرنا، دوسرا اپنے پروڈکشن ہاؤس میں دیگر اداروں کے لیے خصوصی پرگرام تیار کرنا اور موبائل صارفین کو انتہائی کم رقم کے عوض یہی خبریں فراہم کرنا بھی شامل ہے۔‘
ایم ایم پارٹنرز کا ہمیشہ یہ موقف رہا ہے کہ وہ کسی کی خبریں کیوں چلائیں۔ تہذیب ریڈیو کے ایاز آفریدی کہتے ہیں اگر پیسے دینے پڑے خبروں کے لیے تو پھر اس وقت دیکھیں گے۔
وانا سے لے کر دیر تک سنے جانے والے اس انوکھے تجربے کے لیے مستقبل میں چیلنج بہت ہیں۔ دیکھنا یہ ہے کہ معاشی اور سرکاری دشواریوں کے بیچ میں یہ کیسے قبائلیوں کی ضرویات پوری کر پائے گا۔

Tayyeb Afridi talks about mobile news project providing free news to people in FATA and KP

During his fellowship at Stanford, Tayyeb Afridi explored, discovered and embraced new approaches to creating and operating independent news organisation and launched the Tribal News Network to serve the Tribal Areas of rural northwest Pakistan. “I realised that journalism is not only a public service, but also a business and should be treated like a business,” Afridi explained.

“This entrepreneurial aspect of journalism was a transformative experience for me.” Through his experiences and coursework at Stanford, Afridi also came to see that developing an information economy is vital to creating an informed society in his home region, because it would bring both jobs and information that people need. 

In Tribal Area: Radio Sensitize Public For School Education

A local radio station in Pakistan’s unsettled tribal areas has shown how important the media can be in spreading awareness of the importance of education. About 180 new students turned up at one government school in the town of Razmak in North Waziristan after the local radio station broadcast announcements telling parents that education in government schools was free. Most local parents thought they would have to pay for schooling. 

                                    The freshly admitted students are taking lessons from teacher.

North Waziristan is believed one of the main bases for militants causing instability in both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

The Razmak radio which was established in 2006 to bridge gap between people and government has started Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) campaign to educate people on development issues. It has, in this scenario, designed PSAs in March and broadcasted it throughout the month to motivate local people to enroll their children at the schools. Razmak town is relatively safe unlike other fata schools where schools were blown up regularly. Local media sources say that more than 300 schools have been destroyed or damaged by militants in the tribal agencies in the past few years. The government school in Razmak is more protected because the town has one of the main government military bases in Waziristan.

Bahadur Nawaz, principal of the Government High School Razmak said that his school used to have only 30 students. There is little tradition of formal education in the fiercely conservative tribal areas, and few parents send their children to school. When the Razmak radio broadcasted PSA, he has started receiving good response from people of the locality .It is conveyed to listeners that their children will be taught freely and they would be provided free books. After broadcasting the PSA, large number of parents has started coming in for admission. ‘In less than a month, the number of students at School have raised to 210’’ Bahadur Nawaz added. Most of the students, he had admitted in school were fresh and brought in by parents who were poor and couldn’t bear little expenses in the form of admission fee.

Bakhtawar Jan, station Manager at Razmak Radio said that this message has been repeatedly broadcasted over a month and he has received tremendous response from listeners, who calls to station; asking for further information about free education.

He added that those, who called in station, were first suspicious about the authenticity of this announcement but when they realized that its true then they questioned the qualification of teachers whether they are qualified . ‘You can see the curiosity and interest of the public from this’, he told. He has never imagined such a response to PSA which brought 180 students to a deserted school.

Gul Khatem, the father of eight years old Junaid said that he heard this message from radio and took his child straight to school for admission. “It was exactly free of cost as was said by radio” he told. His son was studying in 1st class when he pulled out his child from a private school because of expenditure, said Khatem, who hails to Sola Borakhel Village of Razmak sub division.

The principal said that still people are coming regularly for admission and even today he has admitted more eight (8) students. Apart from fresh students, he has also admitted those students who were migrated from private schools.

Mr. Abdul Haseeb, resident of Shankie village at Razmak told that his two sons have been studying in fifth class in a private school but when he heard this message; he couldn’t resist bringing in his children to this school for free education.

The principal added that people who are Internally Displaced from South Waziristan and living in camps at Razmak and Shawal have also responded very well and they brought their children for admission.

Radio Is The Lifeline in Tribal Areas of Pakistan

people listening to rado Miranshah.

In FATA, Radio is the only Voice, Published by Express Tribune.

Twice, I missed cadet college tests during my school period because the only source of news was newspapers and the admission news failed to reach me in time. But even today, students and people of the FATA don’t get news in real time.

An International media development organization in Pakistan has trained Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) broadcasters on public service announcements (PSAs) in a training held in Islamabad Pakistan. Broadcasters from local radio stations have attended this five day hands on training on PSAs. While PSAs are used widely elsewhere in the world, they have never been used by these stations in Pakistan before. “I have done my Master in journalism but I have not learned on how to produce PSA,” said Asadullah who attended that training along with 10 other colleagues at February 2012. The use of PSAs and other Public-oriented media trainings is crucial to help Pakistan Local government in FATA to establish relationship with its militancy affected people located at Pak-Afghan border.

Asadullah and his colleagues wasted no time putting their new training to good use. They immediately returned to their stations and began developing PSAs, the first of which was about the ongoing voter registration process in Pakistan. After broadcasting the voter registration PSA on Radio Miranshah, the station started receiving a number of calls and letters from listeners congratulating them. According to listeners they are providing them guidance on voter registration and other important social issues. Asadullah a young reporter who has risen quickly to the ranks never thought that he would be bridging gap between government and local people.
A media development organization has engaged five partner radio stations from FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to train them on professional broadcasting. The partner radio stations have been provided with professional equipment in order to improve working capacity and trainings to strengthen their production skills for the benefit of the local population. These radios are the only government voice in the tribal areas to inform listeners about government development activities. That is why Asadullah and his other colleagues from the same partner radio stations have also been trained in PSA production.

Mr. Fazal Rahman, station manager of the radio Miranshah and who also attended that training, regarded this training very fruitful. He has also produced PSAs about local government and has solicited applications from students to attend a free skill development program. Fazal, who remained my colleague during our four years broadcasting in FATA, told me that as soon as he broadcast that announcement, he received many calls from listeners inquiring about this opportunity. He was surprised to see how fruitful this activity was. He never experienced this kind of broadcasting which is very short and concise, and he was happy to see that he has engaged destitute local people in constructive activity.

The impoverished tribal regions have no other option to learn about any opportunity provided by the government or non-government organizations except these radios. Twice, I missed cadet college tests during my school period because the only source of news was newspapers and the admission news failed to reach me in real time. Cadet Colleges are special colleges established by government with subsidized fee and high standard and they admit those students who cleared their tests. They every year announced admission with limited seats for general students who can make their way into college. But even today, students and people of the FATA don’t get news in real time.

So, the broadcasting of these five radio stations working in Northwestern Pakistan Tribal areas has attracted large audiences, especially students and women who are more interested in education and health programs. This practice has converted lot of opportunities either from government or non-government into public announcements to reach to larger audiences of FATA. These radios also requested local government to give them permission to start commercial broadcasting in tribal region.

Though, the government has started number of projects to provide basic facilities to public such as health, education, but those were going unnoticed because, there was no mechanism in place to disseminate information to large audiences. The local government of FATA usually issued information to newspapers and televisions and both the mediums lack access to large audiences in FATA, mainly because of illiteracy and power shortage. Therefore, the information failed to reach concerned people, most of the time, which have been living far away in the mountains. For instance, I have heard commercials given by local government to Peshawar FM channels despite knowing that it is not being heard fully in the FATA. Today, most of the scholarships are advertised in the newspapers meant for fata students while knowing that newspaper circulation is few hundred in the whole of FATA.

The Fata radios since its inception are totally dependent on donor’s money and local government has not yet design commercial plans to make these radios financially sustainable. But Asadullah is confident that sooner or later his radio would get permission of commercial broadcasting and then he could be able to utilize his skills for making commercial spots. He said he would be happy to become part of that broadcasting too.

Women in FATA find a voice

By Huma Yousuf

PESHAWAR: In a small recording studio in Peshawar, Asma rushes around with a minidisc recorder. She has to finish editing a news bulletin and make it back to her home in Nowshera before it gets dark. ‘If I don’t get the bulletin done in time for this evening’s show, the station won’t let me continue as a radio journalist,’ she says. ‘But if I don’t get home on time, then my parents won’t let me continue working either.’

Asma is one of 15 reporters for Radio Khyber, a Jamrud-based FM radio station, and one of the few legal media outlets in Pakistan’s tribal belt. The station, which is supported by the Fata Secretariat, aims to counter the extremist, pro-jihad and anti-West programming that is typical of dozens of illegal radio stations run by hard-line clerics throughout the tribal agencies.

The station’s programming is notable – listeners enjoy a mix of infotainment shows, call-in talk shows, development-oriented programmes that touch on social taboos and health care, and music, particularly hits in Pashto by Fata-based artists. Broadcasting for a total of six hours a day – three hours in the morning, and then again in the evening – the station also airs religious programming, but sermons or religious discussions are kept short and are sandwiched between music shows and humorous chat shows.

What is particularly remarkable about Radio Khyber, though, is that it employs three women as radio journalists. Given that women in the tribal belt do not have as many job opportunities as their counterparts in settled areas or major cities, the option to work for Radio Khyber is invaluable. But the symbolic value of these women’s participation in the station is even more important.

According to Aurangzaib Khan, the manager of Media Development at Internews Pakistan – a non-profit organisation that trains radio journalists – it is highly unusual to have women’s voices on the airwaves in Fata. ‘People in the tribal areas don’t like it if their women call in to radio shows. They think it is shameful if their voices are broadcast on air because the radio goes to the public,’ adds Tayyab, Radio Khyber’s news editor. In fact, when women call the station to request songs or ask questions during a talk show, their queries are broadcast on air under men’s names.

In this context, Asma and her female colleagues’ determination to be radio journalists is admirable. But it also means that they have had to defy their families to pursue the career of their choice. For example, Kulsoom, a radio journalist from Quetta who is temporarily based in Peshawar to work with Radio Khyber, says that her parents and brother strongly disapprove of strange men hearing her voice on air. ‘But I wanted to do something unique,’ she says. ‘I’m the first Pathan girl from Balochistan who has come into the media.’

Hear more about how Kulsoom’s family has responded to her decision to be a radio journalist in the following clip:

In addition to their families, the women had to overcome their own reservations about entering the public sphere. Andaleeb, a young reporter from Landi Kotal, admits that she wanted to work behind the scenes. ‘I was scared of reporting and had heard that women face problems when they come into the field,’ she says. ‘But once I started I realised we get more respect than the men and everyone is more cooperative.’

Andaleeb describes how she overcame her anxiety about field reporting in the following clip:

Now, Radio Khyber’s female reporters know that their struggle to be on air is worth it. For example, Andaleeb is proud of her involvement with Radio Khyber. ‘It’s good that we’re the voice of the people,’ she says, ‘but it’s even better that we’re the voice of the women. If you only run men’s voices on the station then how can anything change? If women get on air then maybe other women will be encouraged to call and maybe even come into this field one day.’

That said, none of the female reporters are willing to be confined to covering women’s issues alone. ‘Sometimes my inner woman says that I should focus on women’s issues,’ says Kulsoom, ‘but then I think that if men can do something, then why not me too?’ Asma also complains that female journalists ‘get dumped with women’s issues, but we should be able to do anything – we should be able to touch all issues.’

In the following clip, Asma explains why female reporters should not be confined to covering women’s issues:

Between them, Asma, Andaleeb and Kulsoom have submitted news bulletins on traffic, health issues, imprisoned children, taxation, strikes, the plight of internally displaced persons, military operations against militants in Khyber Agency and more. As such, they comprise an integral part of Radio Khyber’s reporting team, the most vital wing of the station.

Under the Fata Secretariat’s direction, Radio Khyber was meant to restrict its programming to music and entertainment shows. ‘Once the military operations and Talibanisation began, we felt that in our position as journalists, we had to do something more,’ explains the news editor Tayyab. ‘The mood in the tribal belt was not for fun programmes, so we opted to do news bulletins. In a crisis, people want to hear what’s happening down the road, they want the facts so they can make up their mind.’

For that reason, Radio Khyber now offers regular news bulletins on happenings in Fata by local journalists, including the female reporters. The station’s news offerings have secured its popularity among listeners in the tribal areas, who are slowly gravitating away from the illegal FM broadcasts of clerics to hear locally relevant news and information. And hearing a woman’s voice deliver the latest news or conduct an interview with a government official is the beginning of an important paradigm shift. ‘When a woman does reporting, it reminds the listeners that she exists, that she is also participating in society, that she also has information and skills to offer,’ says Asma.

Luckily, now that Radio Khyber’s female reporters have been bitten by the reporting bug, residents of Fata can expect to hear from them regularly. ‘I want to do on-the-spot reporting,’ says Asma. ‘Women aren’t usually allowed to do this, but I want to cover the military operations underway in the agencies.’ Having entered the public sphere, these women are here to stay.