Bol No More

06/16/2015 02:40 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2016

Bol no more?

The debacle of Bol is nothing less than a wake-up call for all who think nothing and no one could ever touch them. All these media houses and their various shenanigans, and all these talk show hosts who are bigger than the boots and the heels they swagger in, and the television screens they appear on. Night after night, then the repeat telecasts past midnight, and in the new day. There is no escaping them. Even when you switch your TV off, there is the eerie feeling of hearing sounds, bits of talks that are constituted of not more than cyclical attacks on those they don't like.

Beware of the wrath of a primetime moderator/anchor/host - my limited vocabulary seems narrower than ever when I try to figure out the right word for the pantomime that is presented on TV every night. Much misery may befall you if the primetime X, Y, Z thinks you or your party are entities to be disliked, hated, targeted or attacked. The degree of the verbosity or viciousness or vitriolic thrown on you is directly proportional to your personal rapport or the lack thereof with the host, channel or the power behind the channel.

O the sanctimonious outrage after the Axact's cupboards of degrees and diplomas came tumbling down. Amidst the skeletons of fake education is the false anger and the pretend oh-my-God-how-did-I-not-see-it? Errrr, ALL the big names who joined Bol, primly as one or the other of its zillion presidents or vice-presidents of this and that side of that business called TV, are veteran, or in only-in-Pakistani-lingo, senior journalists. What exactly is Axact's business may not be known to naam-ke-journalists like yours truly, but hey, raise your hand - yes, all of you who joined Bol, the big, glitzy, extravagant Bol - and put it on that thing called your heart, and say in the camera: I did not know about the dubious side of Axact. Do not let your pupils dilate, your eyelids cover the truth, your scowl camouflage the shame. You may lie to the audience, but there's no escaping the tiny, very tiny voice of your conscience. You knew. And you chose to ignore it. Here I wouldn't presume to insinuate any motives. I don't know why you did it, but you did it.

It's not about joining a new channel. It's not about going for the biggest package being offered to you. It's not about the aim of being a part of the biggest TV channel ever in the history of Pakistan television. It's about your audacity to announce it's for the pursuit of truth. Leave one channel, and become the head of another one. Sure, no harm done. Why the pretence, man? It's all about money, and the power money brings. The power to control narratives on national TV, the power to manipulate ideas, the power to exploit issues.

The big names go from channel to channel quicker than Sunny Leone being made to strip with a promise to make her a serious actress. It's not like rats leaving a sinking ship, that's survival. Here it's like you watch a building go up, bit by bit, knowing the foundation is made of flaky materials, or fake degrees, and when it comes crashing down, you blame it on the neighbour's trees. Seriously, dudes, you gotta get your act together. Learn to lie well, or try that other option, hard but it works: speak the truth. It sets you free. Eventually.

Bol is not merely the two dozen big names; Bol is 2,200 nameless, faceless people who worked day and night to make the channel real, unlike the degrees that were partly financing it. The Axact bad guys, Shoaib What's-his-name and Viqas Atiq must face the law, and find out a way to cheat the system, but Bol must continue to be. There must be a proper, legal way for the acquisition of a super cool channel, with all its glitz and bling, to ensure that all who joined Bol to earn an honest livelihood have an organisation to work for, and all those who joined Bol to do solid journalism have an outlet to speak their minds. The rest are all taken care of in some other big channel. Trumpet the integrity of journalism, your uprightness, your unimpeachable principles while you open a new account, idly choosing the new company car with your old PA. Bol be damned....