Can The Pakistani TV Industry Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Here’s the state of the industry.

What happens when you see a drama serial Suno Chanda airing over three times with the span of a year. You come to realize that the Pakistani drama industry isn’t as big or expansive as we’d like it to be. And now, with coronavirus wreaking havoc across all industries, where does it leave Pakistani TV viewers who are hungry for more content?

With the Coronavirus pandemic having halted everything, like filming for new content, how long will the archives of the Pakistani TV industry last?

With Ramzan fast approaching, perhaps the month’s special iftar transmissions will tide over the content drought somewhat. Yet if this dire situation with coronavirus continues, its anyone’s guess that we might not even have a Ramzan transmission at all.


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That means no Ramzan gameshows either. We can still look forward to sermons from our favorite preachers, right? They could just live stream from home.

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Maybe if the Pakistani TV industry had been more equipped to deal with a crisis we’d see better days.

Based on what the director of 7th Sky Entertainment, Abdullah Kadwani told Images, that’s partially the reason. Unlike 7th Sky Entertainment, most productions aren’t wrapped up before they’re aired.

“The issue is that our TV industry is hardly ever prepared for a crisis. Under normal circumstances, actors tend to have back to back schedules, never leaving a few days free just in case they fall ill or are unable to come in on a certain day.”

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While announcements for shooting are floated months in advance, a large portion of the dramas are filmed while they are being aired.

“Generally, only a portion of a drama is shot when it is floated out on to TV. The remainder of the filming takes place while the drama is still on air. It’s a last-minute, hand-to-mouth system which inevitably slows down projects and targets are not met.”

What this really highlights is how television is a dying art. For good reason too. Hum Network might be optimistic that they can start airing new content now and wrap up shoots when things get better. Yet we don’t know that for sure.

“A lot of our new dramas are 75% complete and we can start airing them, wrapping up the later episodes once the situation gets better.”


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Additionally, Pakistani TV fails to address the audience. Just take a look around when’s the last we saw something that resonated with us on the small screen? No wonder Netflix taking up traction amid the lockdown.

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Chief of ARY Digital Network, Jerjees Seja has the right idea. According to him, we need different content. Work must go on but they need to find a way to work around health crisis such as a pandemic.

“We’ll take more precautions – and we may have to change the formats of some of our shows and come up with different content.”

In conclusion, if things don’t change for the better, Pakistani audiences will have to contend with a lack of local content and productions.

Written by Ummara Sheraz

Entertainment & culture writer at ProPakistani/Lens. Occasionally dabbles in other news.

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