The behind-the-scenes footage leaked from Dunya TV’s ‘interview’ of Malik Riaz conducted by Meher Bokhari and Mubashir Lucman on June 13, 2012 has exposed the corruption of these so-called journalists. Their clear connivance with the interviewee in order to make themselves look blameless is a disgrace to the profession. We commend the whistleblower who leaked this footage and exposed their reality, which is all the more shocking given their self-righteous public stands.We demand:
1. BLACKLIST BOTH ANCHORS: Although there were initial reports that they had resigned or been fired from Dunya TV there are reports that other TV channels are willing to take hire them or that they may stay on at Dunya TV.
As media consumers we want to make it clear that we believe that both Mubasher Lucman and Meher Bukhari should be blacklisted from any reporting or anchoring positions again in any channel. If any channel picks them up after this, we will lobby against it.
2. ACTION AGAINST DUNYA TV OWNERS/MANAGEMENT: We believe that action needs to be taken against the owners of Dunya TV, who clearly approved the planted ‘interview’, and in fact gave instructions for Malik Riaz to not be interrupted and to be allowed to speak over time if needed.
3. PROTECT THE WHISTLEBLOWER: We don’t know who leaked the footage but we believe that the person’s safety needs to be ensured. He or she needs to be protected and guaranteed immunity from prosecution. To those who criticise the leaking of the footage as ‘dishonest’ to the employers or who speculate that the person who leaked this was possibly “from agencies”, we point out that being ‘from agencies’ is unfortunately always a possibility in Pakistan. As for ‘dishonesty to employers’, if all whistle-blowing was condemned as dismissed as “professional dishonesty”, we wouldn’t have Wikileaks.
There’s a general consensus, in the interest of freedom of information and democracy, that whistle-blowers who act in the public interest and expose corruption should be protected, not prosecuted.
4. DEVELOP, ENFORCE AND MAKE PUBLIC A MEDIA CODE OF ETHICS: It is clear that TV channel owners and producers and media houses need to develop and put in place clear and transparent checks in order to ensure that they do not engage in manipulating and fooling the public. The media has a responsibility that makes it a business that is different from any other profit-making business, due to its very nature as a provider of news and shaper of public discourse. Therefore we reiterate our demand for a code of ethics to be agreed upon and placed on the websites of all media houses.
Sincerely, Citizens for Free and Responsible Media, Pakistan