‘Regional TV better than English news channels’

: SERVICE BY THE PEOPLE :  Corruption in cricket, complete with bookies, greedy players and sleaze, contributes to the burgeoning middle class’s warped notion of ‘having arrived’. These bizarre aspirations, disconnected from the rooted cultures of India, are overwhelming and suffocating. Those who mindlessly ape what they see on television and in glossy magazines are alienated from the reality of India. This makes economically and socially mobile people fundamentally insecure in their own skin.

Reading books and learning from them seem to be fast-disappearing habits. One liners, soundbites, glib responses, superficial discourse and the same, obvious and commonplace ideas bashed about in different kinds language, tones and opinions have become the norm for debate on public fora. A pathetic scam that is plaguing the Indian Premier League has been making headlines for days, as though nothing else of any importance is happening in India. The media has been grossly irresponsible in this regard. This has not only made public discourse mediocre, but the truth has been systematically blotted out from news and reportage. How news is reported and presented is governed by higher powers and personal leanings. Half-baked news stories, a foggy truth and self-promotion come together, causing disaster.

The electronic media — particularly the English language channels — report much like local city channels do in the United States of America, where even the slightest of things makes headlines. Ironically, the quality of news on the regional language channels and the state channels is better; it is far more cohesive and centred around real and dominating socio-economic and political issues.

Blotted out

On television channels, the same boring, predictable faces spout their personal views and positions with abandon, collect their performance fees, and go home. Outside broadcast vans have been known to arrive at private dinners to get a ‘bite’ from people who are guests at another person’s house, thereby rudely disrupting the get-together for the other people present there. There is something utterly ugly about this kind of uncultured, uncivilized and unabashed self-promotion. On the superficial social circuit in the capital, such television appearances titillate the performers more than the audience.

The part of television-viewing that insults the intellectual acumen of Indians each day needs to be punctured and replaced by more dynamic and wholesome news bulletins and programming. To do an hour long investigative programme on bookies and betting makes far more sense than usurping the national news bulletin for the purpose. To do a daily crime show is more appropriate than carrying on at length about high-profile murder cases on the 9 o’ clock news. Surely the men and women who design the daily programme schedules can think up new ideas as well as rework the tried and tested ones?

Programmes on channels such as CNN and BBC are sharp, to the point and hugely interesting. There is no rambling, fudging, pontificating, sermonizing, screeching and loud mouthing on these shows. Many lessons need to be learned. Television anchors on Indian channels need to watch world television and then return to their shows so that they can add real value to their programmes and news bulletins, from appropriate voice pitches to content, delivery and style. These important qualities are sorely lacking in most Indian news anchors. This is the moment for Door Darshan to radically revamp itself and become a channel akin to the Public Broadcasting Service. The main purpose of such channels ought to be service for the people, of the people, by the people.

उपरोक्त आलेख Malvika Singh ने द टेलीग्राफ के अपने कालम MALA FIDE में लिखा है.

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