Why do we watch TV?
Ask different people this question and one is expected to get a variety of answers.
Some switch on the TV to while away the time, while a majority of us hold a TV remote control in our hands to watch news bulletins or talk shows. Several of us are also loyal followers of a certain soap opera or a serial.
I turn on TV to mostly read chyron, called tickers or tickers in our local parlance, on different news channels.
They are witty, precise, to-the-point and informative. They are to TV what a headline is to a news story of a newspaper.
There are patches that chyrons are predictable. If it is cricket season, most of the bottom text rolls information about an ongoing or an upcoming match.
These chyrons never call the Pakistani cricket team as Pakistani cricket team. They are ‘Shaheens’.
Similarly, PPP workers are ‘jiyalas’ and PML-N workers ‘matwalas‘ to ticker writers and no one objects to them.
Nowadays, it is the season of court proceedings, and it happens often that a very serious case is buried in the diction of tickers.
The other day, Supreme Court Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmad, along with two more senior justices, was addressing a significantly controversial matter. However, it was long overdue to talk about it in a manner that would bring about positive results.
CJP Gulzar Ahmad said that land that was not being used by the armed forces appropriately and it must be returned to the government instead of using it for commercial purposes.
TV ticker writers, however, had their own style to narrate the case.
One of my lawyer friends says that the TV channels never tell a court story in the right way. He, however, admits that it is true that all across Pakistan, much of the cantonment areas have been turned into residential areas and business centres. These areas have become one of the poshest areas of cities and have skyrocketing prices of land.
According to the CJP and his bench, this is not in the best interest of society, government and the armed forces, therefore, the land must be returned to the government.
These are the hard facts of the case, but no TV ticker hit them.
There are a lot of commercial activities that are taking place on the land that was to be used for defence purposes. Marriage halls, petrol pumps and shopping malls are being built, one after the other, on the land that was given to the institution for the purpose of protecting the nation. However, since the assigned purpose is not being fulfilled, it is fitting that the land be returned to the government.
Another problem with tickers is that they present the comment of the honourable judges as the verdict.
That should never happen.
Tickers must speak the truth as they are part of journalism.
In the same way, the reports being provided to the court by the respondents should be truthful.
All institutions of the country are bound to honour and respect the courts.