News Analysis |
Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday April 5, 2018 ordered the management of Geo TV to pay all pending salaries to its employees by April 30. The Apex Court also said it will shut down TV channels where owners do not pay their staff, adding that employees are the backbone of any organization.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a suo motu case regarding the nonpayment of staff salaries by media house owners.The bench asked the media house to pay the salaries even if it has to “beg or borrow”.
The Apex Court might take more notices to address the plight of reporters in other media houses. The government of Pakistan must also take measures to improve the plight of the field reporters and technical staff in such organizations.
Renowned anchor-person Hamid Mir told the Apex Court that Geo management has not paid salaries for February and March.This was also confirmed by several Geo reporters present in the court. The Court expressed its dismay and summoned Jang Group HR Director Salar Janjua, who also confirmed the delay in payment of employees’ salaries.
Janjua told Supreme Court that the Geo management has already started paying salaries and it is expected that all staff salaries will be cleared soon.However, the bench has sought an affidavit from the Geo CEO with an undertaking that staff salaries will be paid by April 30.
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Plight of ‘media staff’ in Pakistan
Pakistan witnessed media boom during former President Pervez Musharraf’s era. Since then, tens of news and entertainment channels have propped up throughout the country. Pakistani media has boosted the freedom of expression in the country. The government of Pakistan has also enacted several laws to regulate media.
However, all is not well in media in this developing country. This is especially true for news houses. While senior anchor persons continue to bag millions of rupees per month in the form of salaries, field reporters and technical staff remain under paid and are often not waged on time. Most of these slots in media houses are filled without any form of contract and the employers use their arbitrary powers to fire any staff member at their will and without the fear of legal repercussions.
The situation has worsened in recent years. The suo moto notice on the non-payment of salaries in Geo News Network might only be the tip of the iceberg. The Apex Court might take more notices to address the plight of reporters in other media houses. The government of Pakistan must also take measures to improve the plight of the field reporters and technical staff in such organizations.