Guest post by Naeem Pani Wala
When I decided to join advertising industry, 12 years back, I was criticized by many of my close friends. They thought it was a bubbling industry then, which may collapse any time. Even when I was in London for higher studies, the media analysts were not in favor of a media career in a country like Pakistan. Let me straight away come to the point and see if the situation has changed or not?
Although here in Karachi, the situation is not so bad as reported in Islamabad, where my friends are not contented at all with the current situation. Karachi as a hub of business and advertising is in a very strong position with over 50 advertising agencies from very big to very small ones (by small company I mean one room and even one man company handling just one client).
A year ago or so, advertising business was at boom with a race of claims of developments and prosperity. Those were the days of “Khushal Pakistan” campaign, with mega advertising budgets from the Musharraf backed government of PMLQ. This ‘Khushal Pakistan’ campaign fruited many of advertising companies which were close to the ruling party then. Especially in Punjab some special schemes were introduced to collect the funds for development, though these funds were never utilized and details are yet to be made public. So in short, people earned millions out of our national wealth. There are examples of those without a motorbike 10 years ago now own Mercedes.
As the time passed, and the scenario has been changing, eye opening facts are hitting the surface. Now the government is shifting its likeness towards those which were kept aside by previous government. Similarly, those agencies which had relations with PMLQ government are being targeted. Consequently, the work load has been shifting from Islamabad to Karachi.
Furthermore, we are told that government is not clearing the dues to those ad companies which ran “Khushal Pakistan Campaigns”. Ms. Sharry has clearly said that the “Khushal Pakistan Programme” campaigns were fraud and it had plundered the national wealth of over 4 billion Pak Rupees. Consequently, ad companies involved in the rip-off are now struggling hard to recover the remaining amount from the government. Even in Punjab, a favorite company of Perviaz Elahi is said to be struggling to get 420 million rupees.
Due to this cash flow problem, advertising agencies are unable to clear bills of print and electronic media. APNS has been asked to intervene in the situation but as the government has no money, so how it can pay such heavy amounts.
Resultantly, due to this tussle, some newspapers and TV channels are dying, as the impact doubles when it shifts from one industry to another
With running short of cash inflow, ad companies are uniting against the APNS domination. They have intentions to not pay anything to newspapers until the government is not resolving their payment issues. Industry may reach a very crucial situation in case APNS suspends all the agencies, and apparently it looks the same.
As an industry, apparently advertising companies are the bread and butter of media and being black mailed by APNS who is receiving billions from ad companies without any efforts. They, I mean newspapers receive 85 % revenue and even then they are enforcing their decisions on ad companies.
However, advertising companies have taken their stand and have united themselves against APNS, which was working as a policeman in media and was suspending agencies and dictating their terms and conditions at its will.
As a media professional, our federal minister for information should play a positive role instead of targeting the ad agencies as these companies are made for businesses but not to be politically victimized.
So, it is my humble suggestion to the federal minister to resolve the long outstanding issue before it reach at the worst conditions.
We realize the current economic situation of the country, but it is not fair to target any special segment of the country. Like stock exchange, the government should introduce a bailout plan for the ad industries as well. So that they could pay their outstanding dues to the print and electronic media and a clash with in media could be averted.
If APNS blacklists all the ad companies it will give birth to a new era of pulling the table. Instead of it, the government should intervene in the matter for a good solution of current cash inflow crises.
We are looking towards the ideal solution of these crises in the near future.