As the negative role of the visual media is affecting the fibre and fabric of India and is spreading unrest, the government has to seriously examine the need to put visual media under the scanner and monitor its activities, writes N.S. Venkataraman for South Asia Monitor.
By N.S. Venkataraman
Most of the television media houses in India are owned by political parties or politically affiliated groups or business men. This is so in the case of English TV media as well as regional media in various languages.
In the choice of the news and visual scenes that are telecast, the priority is for violence, rape and molestation, murder, corruption, dacoity and the abusive statements of politicians and religious and social extremists. Apart from these groups, cinema actors also get high priority and they are often asked to give their views on various subjects even relating to complicated social themes and matters relating to science and technology, though most of the actors have no worthwhile qualification in such fields.
The main focus of Indian TV media is to enlarge their viewership at any cost and the promoters of TV media seem to think that they can do so only by highlighting negative matters. Obviously, they lack better and progressive ideas.
In a country of around 1,300 million people, if a child abuse activity takes place in a remote corner, TV media rushes to telecast as if it is a matter of national priority and telecast it as priority news (Breaking News) and main theme, inviting detailed discussions. It is not the case that media should refrain from publicising such news but it has to be done as a passing news, condemning it openly and not projecting it as an event that has become the order of the day. In the process, by making it look like frequent occurrence and by giving high and disproportionate publicity, media gives negative ideas to vulnerable youth in the formative age group.
Since the ownership of the TV media houses is not in the hands of people with scholarly attributes, the media end up serving the interests of political parties or business groups or so called activists who may even be the owners of the media. Paid telecasting is often suspected.
Most of the discussions and debates have become noisy with everyone shouting at each other and the anchor trying to outshout all the participants. Most of the anchors lack adequate knowledge of various subjects that they take up for discussion, leaving the discussions poorly organised and not serving the purpose of knowledge dissemination.
It has become almost impossible now for the ideas and thoughts of well-educated people with experience, vision and understanding in various disciplines to get their views telecast and publicised, as the media do not seem to be interested in them.
The negative trend of the visual media is directly encouraging mob fury, as the agitators know that if they would indulge in violence or obscene acts, visual media would immediately provide priority and focus on them. This perhaps explains as to why the agitating Tamil Nadu farmers are indulging in unusual and ugly acts including undressing themselves in public in New Delhi to get media attention.
The visual media often highlights some agitation by 50 or 100 people as if it is a nationwide agitation and in the process encourage others to involve themselves in such activities. This is how several agitations spread with great vigour.
As the negative role of the visual media is affecting the fibre and fabric of India and is spreading unrest, the government has to seriously examine the need to put visual media under the scanner and monitor its activities.
While the media has the liberty to function, it should know that liberty cannot remain unconditional and give way for abuse of freedom, spreading false information and exaggerating the events, thus affecting the social and economic stability of the country.
(The author is Trustee of Chennai-based Non-Profit Organisation Nandini Voice for the Deprived. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to email@example.com)