Lahore-based real estate developer, Al Rehman Developers, announced on Wednesday that it has acquired Public News, a news channel that broadcasts national and international news and current affairs. The channel, which was founded in 2018 by media veteran Abdul Jabbar and later run by media mogul Yousaf Baig Mirza, has been facing severe financial difficulties for the past two years, resulting in delays in staff salary payments and downsizing of programs.
Reports suggest that Al Rehman Developers has acquired the news channel, but it remains unclear who will pay off the outstanding dues. A Facebook post by the company stated that they are confident that Public News will thrive under their leadership and vision.
The CEO of Al Rehman Developers, Mian Muhammad Mushtaq, also runs a housing society named Al Rehman Gardens, located on Sharaqpur Road near Faizpur Interchange in Lahore. The trend of real estate tycoons venturing into media is not new, as former senior minister Abdul Aleem Khan bought Samaa TV last year, and Saad Nazir, who runs the Blue World City housing project in Rawalpindi, started SUNO TV.
However, the media fraternity believes that the real estate sector is increasingly investing in the media industry mainly to strengthen the former industry. Many housing projects of most real estate developers do not have any legal status, and under the guise of media group ownership, many developers continue to conduct illegal activities without facing any accountability institutions. The deal between Al Rehman Developers and Public News has raised concerns among the media fraternity regarding the future of journalism and media ethics in the country.