Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

The Freedom Of Media Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 4388 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

This study seeks to explore the state of Freedom of Media during the Musharraf regime, the developments , achievements and then the restrictions imposed by the President are also intended to be analyzed.

During the nine years of Musharraf regime media have gone through various critical and crucial phases. The progress of mass media, the freedom, the laws to curb the media, technological developments are some big phases the Musharraf government is associated with. This study is descriptive in nature and looks at certain political developments as predictors of media freedom. Political decisions that made people of Pakistan prosper or suffer and to what extent. The relationship between different institutions of the society and their effects on each other is studied, the structural-functional theory that suggests society works as whole on the basis of different institutions that are its structures performing their specific functions shows that media is one of these institutions .Mass media are the focus of this research it is hoped that it will be a little contribution towards the media development process, strains, achievements adding to the media history of Pakistan.


Mass media are mirror of the society depicting the political environment and making discourses on the issues of significance. mass media can be defined as: “The methods and organisations used by specialist social groups to convey messages to large, socially mixed and widely dispersed audiences” (Haralambos et al., 2000, p935)

In ‘The German Ideology (1846), Marx asserts that “the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class”. Applying this to Marxism, the media are the means by which the ideas of the ruling class maintain their dominance as the ruling ideas (Haralambos & Holborn, 2000, p937).

The Marxist view was dominant in Britain and Europe from the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s, and is still used in modern research. Although less dominant now, Marxism still affects much media research.

In studying the relationship between media and government, the most important role of the media is its ability to perform a watchdog role, monitoring and criticizing government behavior because when the media performs this function it is able to act as a forum for political debate regardless of other limitationson its freedom. In his press freedom index, Van Belle (2000) focuses on the ability of the news media to criticize the government and thereby serve as an arena for political competition. This more narrow definition of media independence is aimed more at the function and practices of the media. While the political, legal, economic, and professional environments each play a role in the capability of the media to serve as a watchdog and an arena for political competition.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Mass media are a structural and functional unit of the society .Every society constitutes several institutions that work together to make the system functional and stable . These social institutions are known as social structures and the work performed by them are called social functions in the structural functional theory . This theory was developed from 1930 to 1960 in the United States by Comte, Herbert Spencer and Durkheim .

According to Marxist media analysis, media institutions are regarded as being ‘locked into the power structure, and consequently as acting largely in tandem with the dominant

institutions in society. The media thus reproduced the viewpoints of dominant

institutions not as one among a number of alternative perspectives, but as the central and “obvious” or “natural” perspective’ (Curran et al. 1982: 21). According to adherents of Marxist political economy, in the mass media there is a

tendency to avoid the unpopular and unconventional and to draw on ‘values and

assumptions which are most valuable and most widely legitimated’ (Murdock &

Golding 1977: 37, cited in Curran et al. 1982: 26).

Similarly, ‘some Marxist commentators have contended that media portrayals of

elections constitute dramatized rituals that legitimate the power structure in liberal

democracies; voting is seen as an ideological practice that helps to sustain the myth

of representative democracy, political equality and collective self-determination.

The impact of election coverage is thus conceived in terms of reinforcing political

values that are widely shared in Western democracies and are actively endorsed by

the education system, the principal political organizations and the apparatus of the

state’ (Curran et al. 1982: 15).

Alex de Tocqueville(1988,p517) once said “only a newspaper can put the same thought at the same time before a thousand readers”. In this century the same can be said about television, radio and internet which can provide information to million people simultaneously across the globe .Due to this power of mass media governments try to control media and influence media content in their own interest and sometimes in national interest.

Media freedom around the world is different ,developed countries have a better state of media freedom than developing and under developed countries.Research shows that media freedom has relationship with other factors too. Media freedom is directly related to economy , technological advancement ensures media freedom similarly polity is a major reason behind curbing media freedom In the Marxist fundamentalist tradition, ‘political economists’ see ideology as subordinate to the economic base (Curran et al. 1982: 26). Work by Graham Murdock (Murdock & Golding, 1977; Murdock, 1982) represents the ‘critical’ political economy approach, locating the power of media in the economic processes and structures of media production. Ownership and economic control of the media is seen as the key factor in determining control of media messages.

.Education and religion are also factors that influence freedom of mass media. The effects of media freedom on economy and polity is evident from the the scenario in the African country Swaziland . It is a developing country where the system of government includes a king and a prime minister along with the cabinet . The government of Swaziland like many others in Africa has declared many times that the Swazi press is free with no attempt to gag or intimidate journalists. However, there has never been a specific free press clause in the Swazi constitution. In the article ” The politics of press freedom and the national economy ” Matt Mogekwu mentions the fact that the Swazi Government and the media-especially the independent media – do not appear to be working in concert towards development. The patron-client relationship that seems to exist between them has elicited some degree of resentment on the part of the press that has manifested itself in the kind of confrontational stance taken by the press over the past couple of years. The journalists write as if to dare the government. This is unhealthy for the country in its dysfunctional consequences.

There are ‘progressive’ groups who oppose the system that is against the basic principles of modern democracy and fosters authoritarianism. They argue that the system discourages freedom of expression and limits the people’s contribution to policy decision making. The world outside picks up all of these pieces of information about continued discontent in Swaziland. There is an obvious effect of media – government relation in Swaziland on its econmy the writer says in his article that The King, as Head of State, makes a number of overseas trips each year to woo investors. But the dividends from these trips are hardly ever significant. The picture that the King presents to the outside world hardly coincides with the picture created by the press. The differential interpretations of political philosophies and activities among groups in the country or between the government and the governed leads to a climate of fear that is felt outside. The King’s many trips overseas in search of investors will come to nothing if there is any dissonance in the minds of the potential investors regarding the investment climate in the country. The media play a crucial role in establishing this climate. Attempts at controlling parameters of (political) debate have serious consequences here. Form and substance – and comparative freedom of public communication will be influenced by political news.

The writer concludes Press freedom has become a very important political issue in Swaziland.In general, the government appears reluctant to hasten the process of democratization both in the area of communication and the general area of governance, thus creating problems for itself. The media need information to function and when they are denied this, they can react in several ways, one of which is being critical of government and its policies – and help paint an unfavourable picture of the country to the outside world. The country thus has to suffer in many aspects .

The issue of technological development with respect to media freedom is discussed by an author,In her article on ” New media and freedom of expression in Asia” Ariel Heryanto of The university of Melbourne says about new media technologies that “the global technological change that the west has helped propel forward has given more favorable effects to less modernized parts of Asia the reason for this relate to both technology and social factors.” She adds “In a sense world history can be seen as history of changes in media technology. The spread of radically new medium of communication always threatens existing power structures and hierarchies, and helps create new ones.”

Lawson (2002, 139) found that in Mexico, media openness led to

increased coverage, first by the niche media and then by more mainstream media,

of government corruption and state-sponsored repression:

The discovery that Mexican audiences devoured scandalous information only

encouraged greater reporting of incendiary and shocking events. For media owners,

scandals sold newspapers and boosted ratings; for reporters, they helped

make careers and satisfied personal desires to participate in a new kind of journalistic

enterprise that would expose the failings of authoritarian rule. Market

forces and journalistic norms thus encouraged Mexico’s media to expose spectacular

instances of government abuse.

Political scientist Karl Deutsch has called that the system of communication proves” a nerve of polity”and any breakdown of the nerve may cause dysfunctional impact in the performance of the plity causing governance decay.

In America the public’s right to know is one of the central principles of American society. They determined long ago that the power of knowledge should be in the hands of people .The constitution of the United States became law in 1971 . The first amendment says that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech , or of the press”

The government leaves it to people to settle issues with the mass media .Laws made in America at later stages have been all to give more freedom to media unlike Pakistan , where laws meant direct curb on media freedom. Few press laws are in force in the U.S. because of this broad constitutional protection of press freedom and analogous provisions in the constitutions of the 50 states. Existing laws tend to provide additional protections in categories not covered by the Constitution. The Privacy Act of 1974, for example, regulates the collection and dissemination of personal information contained in the files of federal agencies; the Privacy Protection Act of 1980 establishes protection from police searches of newsrooms. Additional examples include federal and state Freedom of Information and “sunshine” laws (such as the 1966 federal Freedom of Information Act) which opens up executive-branch records to public and press scrutiny.

Similarly Britain is also very friendly to the media and respect the fact that democratic states have free media . There are no laws to stop the publication of accurate information as far as they are accurate and comments are free for anyone who wants to comment on any issue they want. Britain has also developed a strongly liberal democratic concept of freedom of expression, which emphasis the special role of the media and the particular importance of freedom of the press. The media therefore have a powerful weapon to use in challenging legal restrictions on the investigation and publication of matters of public interest but the right to freedom of the press in Britain must always be balanced against other rights and interests. The need to protect national security and public order and the rights of individuals to privacy and reputation will often outweigh the public’s interest in knowing certain information. The balancing of rights and interests is common to all legal systems.

However, a liberal democratic concept of freedom of expression demands that the government shows that its restrictions on the media are both necessary and as limited as possible.

Pakistan is a developing state and the mass media have not been very free until the Musharraf regime, it was the time when technological boom took birth in Pakistan giving a new life to mass media.

Pakistan has struggled through an entangled and unstable political system. Pakistan has had three periods of military rule that alternated with democracy rule, interval between them being approximately ten years.

Military regimes were from 1958-71, Ayub regime was the first military regime then it was Zia-ul-huaq from 1977-1988 and last was the Musharraff regime from 1999-2008. Democratic regimes did not last for long therefore democracy had no time to get its roots strong. The various military regimes were very much interested in controlling the media, the most effective tool the media that was used to curb media freedom by them were media laws to reign it.

Ayub khan was the first one to promulgate media laws in the country. He promulgates the press and publication ordinance (PPO) in 1962. This law empowered the authorities to confiscate newspaper, arrest and torture journalists and close down news agencies. Using these laws Ayub khan took over one of the two largest news agencies and nationalized the press.

By these actions other agencies were pushed into severe crisis and they were forced to get help financially from the government as they had no other choice. TV and radio were also under the control of government due to their financial weakness.

In the Zia regime (PPO) Press and Publication Ordinance was again made additions to in the 1980s. According to the amendments, the prosecuted if a story was not liked or approved by the authorities it was not published even it would have been true.

In the past our media was dependent on the government because , revenue came from government advertisements and subsidies. The state owned channels was therefore was totally controlled by the government, freedom to speak or broadcast anything against the ruling party was a taboo. It was not even thinkable to produce programs in which analysts and critics could discuss various moves and decisions of the government. Media earned very little from the private sector because it had a small volume. But with changing media environment many national and international organizations have become source of big revenues giving economic strength to media, enabling it to be independent this financial independence have given the media independence in thought and action nowadays this freedom of thought is visible in editorial and content independence.

1999 was not a good year for the press of Pakistan. even for democracy it was not a good time, as on october 12 the Pakistani Army took the government from the Prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif. This happened because Nawaz sharif attempted to dismiss Chief of Army staff Gneral Pervez Musharraf.

In the begining of year 1999, The Nawaz sharif government tried to sub-due one of the largest media groups “Jang”. Journalists were punished who had cooperated in the BBC’s production, a documentary investigating the corruption about the family and its business. these acts totally showed the acts of government to intimidate , harass and punish the press. but they were out to public within Pakistan and abroad as well.

PPF Report by Owais Aslam(reference)

Even the media was apparently enjoying freedom the inner story was quite different, the freedom given to media, allowing humorous criticism and open talk shows , critics speaking of their views , the military dictator carefully created perception of “free media” this helped him market himself and made it possible to sustain his regime as long as nine years. This study includes the strategies and events that were against the constitution and public wish, which were main reasons to tarnish the concept of democracy .

Musharraf was swept in office with 98 percent of the official tally in April 2002 referendum but that referendum presented voters with no opponents and the following ballot question :

Do u want to elect President Musharraf for the next five years for the survival of local government system , restoration of democracy, continuity and stability of reforms , eradication of extremism and sectarianism and for the accomplishment of Quaid – e – Azam ( i.e – Pakistan’s founder Mouhammad Ali Jinnah’s ) concept.

The decisions made by Musharraf were not much appraised by the people from small decisions like day time saving scheme to the change in the constitution.



Many judges resigned in protest when Musharrad assumed power . He cleverly got the Oath of judges order 2000 issued so that the judges take fresh oath and give their written word on not taking any action against the military.

On May 12 , 2000 , Supreme court gave the order of holding national elections , which took place in 2001. Musharraf wanted to legitimize his Presidency and to keep it under the pressure of democracy he held referendum on April 30, 2002 to extend his term to five years since he was enjoying the office very much.

He was aware of irregularities in the referendum , thus apologized from the nation on television.


Legal framework order was passed by Musharraf in August 2002 it provided for the general elections of 2002 and the revival of constitution of 1973 but with many ammendments. A part of this order of was rejected by supreme court.


Pervez Musharraf suspended the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on th 9th of March 2007.

There was corruption charges against him and a reference was filed against him. Then Justice Javed Iqbal became the acting chief justice. The suspension of the chief Justice became one of the major harvoc for Musharraf that pushed him in becoming unpopular and resulted in ending of his regime.

In the nine years regime Musharraf and Pakistan have gone through various phases , the phase of Musharraf regime that faced the Judicial crisis is worth noticing as it led to his downfall.


Musharraf’s move to suspend the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry sparked protests among Pakistan lawyers. On March 12 , 2007 lawyers started Judicial activism across Pakistan . They bycotted all court procedures in protest against the suspension. slowly the expression of support for the chief justice gained momentum and by May the huge rallies against Musharraf and his regime as Army chief was challen


Nov, 3, 2007, Black Saturday will go down as another day in our history.

Emergency was imposed only to forget two institutions

1 .Judiciary

2. Media

Chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, who took the seat after Justice Ifthikar Choudhry was dismissed, was pro Musharraf, so on 24 Nov, 2007, a seven larger bench of the supreme court under him directed the election commissioner and the government to declare Pervez Musharraf president for a second term by December 1, and said that he shall relinquish the office of chief of army staff (COAS) before taking oath, as president the supreme court also accepted the provisional constitutional order and validated the declared emergency. He was justified by the court to qualify for the election, constitutionally. Thus the target of general Musharraf was achieved safely to get re-elected with both the offices in his hand.

Curbs on media were imposed by amendments in two ordinances.

These ordinances bar them from “printing or broadcasting anything which defames or brings into ridicule the head of state or executive legislative or judicial organ of the state”

Restraints have also been put on the media for printing or broadcasting material that is likely “jeopardize or be prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or any material that is likely to incite violence or hatred or create inter- faith disorder or be prejudicial to maintenance of law and order”.

Curbs for the electronic media were more than the print. Musharraf attempted to gag cyber space but was futile, minute by minute information about raids, arrests, of journalists, activists, and lawyers.

ppf report 1999 by Owais Aslam

Mass media around the world were already progressing and flourishing on healthy pace but it was Pakistan among those countries where media was the property of the Government. it was the mouthpiece of the ruling party and in case of providing entertainment, no policies or efforts were made by the state owned channel to compete with the outer world. entertainment was possible for those only who had Dish antennae, recievers, decoders etc.

Although Zia was a dictator, a millitary person but he was an Islamist .Zia ruled Pakistan from 1977 to 1988 but that was a period when Pakistan underwent Islamisation. it became a secular nation-state, which was the original vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

now the state religion of Pakistan is Islam but its people are divided due to cultural clash between liberal and religious forces. witht the passage of time and changing governments it has become Presidential Federal democratic republic.

Unlike Zia General Pervez Musharraf had a philosophy of enlightment in every area of life. in case of religion he had the view of enlightened Islam even wanted the Pakistani nation to follow the path of modernization under the label of his philosophy of enlightment.

Similarly media was benefitted by this enlightment, it broadened the media scene in Pakistan.

Pervez Musharraf had a liberal policy for media development that led to explosion of channels and private investors to jump in the show. It was quite a favour by Gneral Pervez Musharraf that his government gave and implemented the Deregulation policy and privately owned commercial media flourished and nourished the nation, mentally. Now the 24 hrs news and entertainment channels are the buddy and need of many people.

The availability of information, news and entertainment channels have proved to play a catalytic role for social change and national development.

Musharraf practiced the idea of “Media democracy” and tolerate the biased sections of media successfully for quite a time period but later when his regime was in danger and he could not justify his deeds he started curbing the freedom of media, that already was given by him. Editors were gaged, newschannels were banned.

Most analysts and journalists (including Mir Khalil ur Rehman, founder of Pakistan’s largest media conglomerate) attribute this freedom to President General Pervez Musharraf’s regime. He, for the first time, removed almost all curbs from the then strangled media groups. Most people count this as the now-deposed dictator’s biggest gift to Pakistan during his tenure. It is ironic, of course, that the same media he worked so hard to free was the one that was finally instrumental in having him exiled from the country.

Objective of the study:

This study aims to find the extent and reality about freedom that media enjoyed in the Musharraf regime. This study will also analyze the relationship between government (polity) economy, technological advancement and media freedom

As stated in the earlier chapters, many studies have been conducted around the world regarding media freedom. Mostly media freedom was studied in advanced developed countries but in developing countries the studies are few. In case of Pakistan, Pakistan media is in its infancy specially the electronic media but developing very fast. In the past all media were under strict control of the government, instead of being watchdog it was called the mouthpiece of the ruling party. In all military regimes the media was under strict check by the government but in Musharraf regime the media scene started to change and he introduced a free environment to all the media. This freedom from the start till the end is covered in this study. Hopefully this will be a useful study to see the changes that media went through in Musharraf regime.

These changes, and advancements will be important to evaluate and study for future researchers of the field as it is important to record the development stages of Pakistan media into a proper mature institution


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: