Thursday, July 1, 2010

Media Matters

Mainstream Media in Andhra Pradesh has seen sort of an explosion in the last two years. There are more than 25 TV channels, with most of them in the News and Entertainment sector. All these channels air the programs in Telugu, mostly catering to the people living in the State. Considering the tele-density in the state, the number of channels can be considered as overflowing. This led to a fierce competition amongst the channels for the Television Rating Points (TRPs). Besides there are at least two new newspapers on the media horizon in the last two years.

Competition is always good for the consumers. And we saw the benefits of the competition in the Telephone sector. Gone are the days when people used to request the MLAs and MPs for recommendation letters to get a telephone allotted on priority. Now every pocket has a phone and virtually at rock bottom prices.

But this is not the case with the TV media. Competition brought no improvement in the quality of the service. Instead, it led the channels resort to cheap tactics to attract the eyeballs. It all started with the channels claiming 'exclusives', 'we showed it first', etc. This 'been there' attitude led to further shouting. It went to that level that the field reporters while reporting the news, focussed more on 'we reported this first', 'faster than any other channel' etc. Showing obscenities in the guise of news, glorifying the crimes by telecasting real life crime stories (reconstructed), showing late night soft porn shows etc have become the order of the day.  Channels stooped to such levels that one of the entertainment channels had to be asked to stop telecasting a program by the State Human Rights Commission (Later the channel got a stay on the order). Almost all the channels resorted to such cheap practices, barring a few. As the competition grew hotter, the channels got nastier. Instead of honing their production and presentation skills, the channels started sharpening their knives to back stab the competitors.

There are many allegations that the channels are resorting to unethical journalistic practices like extortion and blackmailing too. A recent exposure by ABN, of an underhand deal by an NTV top employee proved the point. In fact, it is believed that one such blackmailing tactics employed by a channel on an educational institution, some three years back, was one of the reasons that led to the institution establishing their own news channel.

But, little is reported about the state of the TV media in Telugu blogs. Bloggers do write about the media, do criticize it but not regularly. There is a great need for some blogs dedicated to the media. Some blogs appeared in the past, but those are all vindictive in nature and resorted personal tirades.

But there is one blog, AP Media matters, trying to fill this gap. Started a year back by S. Ramu, a media veteran, this blog keenly observes the print and TV media and reports promptly. He advocates Journalistic ethics and reports about the unethical practices resorted to, by the media houses and the journos.

Besides reporting, he also brings to light some of the issues facing the journalists which normally do not see the light. Recently he reported the story of a TV presenter who was fired by her employer, because she wrote some posts in her blog, which are unsavory to the employer.

The blog is regularly followed by many enthusiastic readers. Though the blog is generally unbiased in its criticism, there are instances where the readers complained about selective criticism. Overall, the blog is doing a good job. There is need for more such blogs on mainstream media.


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