Ramadan game shows in Pakistan muted due to coronavirus
Normally throughout Ramadan, Pakistanis would look to TV game shows as a central source of entertainment. Encourage by exuberant studio audiences, contestants would fight tooth and nail for expensive prizes. This year, however, things will be different.
The covid-19 pandemic will mean no riotous studio audiences and no competitive studio guests. Contestants will participate via video link, phone call and, in some cases, by text message.
Fahad Mustafa, the host of ‘Jeeto, Pakistan’, has pledged to stay cheerful despite the new restrictions. “But it is not as if we won’t be entertained, or stop smiling,” he said on the first show of Ramadan.
Mustafa’s show is among the most popular in the country and normally involves a high level of audience participation. Audiences, traditionally, are loud and rambunctious. But this year, Mustafa will simply be in the company of a camera.
Prizes are less expensive this year too. Advertising and sponsorship have suffered a blow, shrinking by at least 30 percent, due to the covid-19 pandemic and the resultant economic downturn. The change is also designed to reflect the solemnity of the national mood.
According to polls cited by Reuters, nearly half of all Pakistanis have stopped working and 84 percent have lost a substantial amount of their income. Media watchdogs have therefore warned against excessive displays of wealth. In previous years prizes had included expensive cars and even private jets. This year, prizes will be heavily truncated and simplified, although cars will still be given out on some programmes.
Programmes dealing with cookery and faith have also had to modify their content to reflect precautions designed to stop the spread of covid-19.
Pakistan now has in excess of 13,000 covid-19 cases including 281 deaths.