Lahore based national news channel, 7 News has hit another controversy, this time by firing the ace TV anchor and columnist Dr. Fiza Akbar Khan. Dr. Khan was terminated from her services within 12 days of joining the channel after a controversy with the government over the live reporting of G.T. Road Rally.
Fiza Akbar Khan has a decorated 8-years-long career in media industry of Pakistan, having worked at networks like Express, Samaa, Capital TV, Pakistan Television, Geo, and City News Group (Channel 24, City42, UK44, and City41); in fact, her debut in the field was from eminent news channel Dunya News. Anchor with such prolific career rejoined 7News (She had a one-month stint at the channel with 7 News last year when she left PTV News to return to Lahore) earlier this month.
In merely 12 days with the 7 News, Fiza Khan covered the GT Road Rally of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, where one particular piece of reporting got viral (video can be seen below). This particular video is said to be the reason for the termination of Dr. Fiza Khan. As per sources, 7 News terminated Dr. Fiza from her position at the channel on 22nd of August without issuing any proper notification or document. In fact, one senior office holder of the channel told the anchor that the reason of this termination would be disclosed after two days.
Since the termination came out of a blue and the background of it was dubious, on top of it the channel itself enjoys a very bad reputation – ever since this channel started airing a year and a half ago over 250 employees have been fired by the management – an investigation fact gathering was conducted. As per the sources that this particular video clip was sent to the heads of ruling party along with Ms. Maryam Nawaz. The channel wanted to cash the importance of the clip, as a result channel agreed to a deal with the government which got them ”promise” of an ad on the condition of not airing that clip from the channels platform as well as firing the anchor who did that story.
While the channel still refuses to respond to any of our attempt to get their official verdict on this, we did speak to the lady in the center of this controversy Dr. Fiza Khan. She unveiled that she was removed from the internal communication group of the channel and upon inquiring the reason Mr. Javed Chaudhry (who has already made headlines for the harassment issue at the channel) termed it as a mistake and said that he will fix it. However, after that no communication happened between them. According to the HR department, they were told that Dr. Khan has left the channel. However, Fiza Khan says that she never resigned from the channel and even if she did, she would have followed the proper protocols.
She contacted MD of the channel who agreed to meet her this past week at his office. Dr. Khan says that she waited for four hours outside his office to meet him. In addition, when the meeting happened it was a disastrous and disappointing itself. “The same man called me betta (child/daughter) when I joined the channel and asked me to use my influence being a senior member of the industry to clear the air about him and his reputation tarnished by some individuals in the industry. In fact I once did praised him on my social media as he came out to be a gentleman back then.” Said Fiza Khan. She went on saying, “However, this time things were different. Finding me in a weaker moment his behavior was different he not only used sleazy language and he had an evil eye on me at that time.”
Govt used greedy 7news smartly, 7 lost dr.fiza n business deal se b thudd kraya khabar leak hone p#JusticeForDrFiza
— Dr. Fiza Akbar Khan (@Dr_fizakhan) August 27, 2017
Fiza Khan has been a very professionally behaving member of this industry as she has always regarded all the channels she had worked at. She left the channels through proper protocol even walking out of PTV and Capital after controversy of harassment was done after following the proper process. We also learnt that upon returning from the rally coverage she asked for two days off as she got fever due to fatigue and toll. However, the management asked her to resume and do the news anchoring after one day and she conducted that transmission under 102 degree fever.
Commenting on this whole controversy, a member of media industry said that this whole situation is fairly simple, 7 News needed a senior anchor to conduct the transmission of rally with success. That purpose was achieved. Now the channel had to come up with something to remove that senior anchor from the scene.
While asked about the atmosphere at the rather controversial and somewhat channel, Fiza Khan said that she herself did not face issue of harassment per say at the channel until that episode with the MD of the channel. However, she did confirm that it was unlike any other channel. She said, “The demands from the management were weird, there was too much of interference over what an anchor should wear. Anchors are forced to wear tank tops no matter how uncomfortable or unfit the are in it. The head of make-up department was asked to make lips of female anchors up in a way that they look poutier. The kind of language used for such demands is unbearable no wonder nine girls left the channel in no time this must have been the reason for that in fact one girl had to leave the channel when she was asked to wear padded bras, as she was not looking good enough on the screen. In those few on screen appearances I did, even I was asked many times to wear a top which I was not comfortable wearing whatsoever.”
Fiza Khan also confirmed that how some members of the organisation and office holders use their position to exploit the situation of young in experienced female members of channel 7 News. “The interns and inexperienced new recruits had to face harassment and hear suspicious demands, as I said that my stint was too brief there to experience anything of that sort myself. These are, however, my observations and what some of those juniors expressed to me being a senior one there. Hearing what was happening there that too with the involvement of top management makes on think weather they were running a TV channel or some sort of a raicket.”
Fiza Khan also says that she is still unclear on where she was wrong and what led the channel to not back that particular anchor who was termed as face of the channel and was brought to change the image of 7 News, which was discolored with repeated controversies. “I did not know that this can be an end of my career. I did that particular rally for the channel all the coverage was done in all honesty and dutifulness. Yet this happened and since government is involved in this, it is highly unlikely that no other channel hire me now. I perhaps, have ended my broadcast journalism career”, she said. She added, “Having said that a journalist and an anchor in this day and age is not depending on the channel or a logo. I will continue saying what I say using this digital platform.”
So far, over the social media Dr. Fiza Akbar Khan managed to get support and send facts of her side across. This is yet to be seen if anything concreate come out of it or this also dies down with time. This is high time that media industry should conduct a self-accountability and see how such elements and incidents can be curbed. As in the end, it is whole industry that ends up being stained out of wrong doings of a few.