Thursday, November 8, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Hindi news channels - waste of time

The worst thing to have happened to Indian television, after saas-bahu sagas, are some of the Hindi news channels. These channels are not interested in telecasting news and events from around India, let alone the world. All they seem to be interested in is titilation and garnering maximum eye-balls, HOOK OR BY CROOK. The result: Hindi TV news channels have increased thier "fan following" by leaps and bounds.

The pits
The worst of the lot, in my opinion, is India TV. You can hardly call it a news channel as the only thing it is interested in doing is spreading superstition and sleaze. From telecasting a half-hour program on a wedding of a dog with a bitch, in Ahmedabad, India, and moderating a debate between a warring husband and a wife undergoing a painful divorce for the entire nation to watch when actually the two parties should be doing this in the privacy of thier own homes, to telecasting numerous shows on ghosts and spirits, India TV has done everything that a responsible news channel shouldn't. And all this, when its Editor-in-Chief, Rajat Sharma proclaims that thier viewers would want to know about all of that. I had a lot of respect for Sharma once, as I used to watch his series 'Junta Ki Adalat' or whatever it was called. I no longer relate to his kind of journalism.

One regional news channel had even conducted a fake sting operation where the reputation of a school teacher was permanently scared because of what some media reports alledged a personl dispute between her and the reporter who carried out the fake sting.

The other two news notorious Hindi news channels, Zee News and Aaj Tak are no less. Crime shows are a regular at these channels and they just seem to go on and on and on. In one crime show - I think that comes on India TV - the host wears a police uniform and the program's name is ACP Arjun! The anchor of Zee News' crime show is full of drama and talks as if a horror film director is narrating his up-coming script to a potential actress, full of 'passion', 'emotion', 'drama' and horror written all over his face, nothing of which is convincing and instead makes the anchor look like a clown. There is a program called 'Breaking News' on one of these channels. Surely Breaking news can happen at any time, why have a fixed program at a fixed time for it. Speaking of which, some Hindi news channels show breaking news after every 1/2 hour. There can't be so many breaking news throughout the day, 365 days a year!

Star News, I am also told, thrives a lot on gossip. I do not watch any of the above news channels, but on flipping channels once long back, I landed up on Star News when coincidentally Aishwarya Rai was injured on the sets of the movie 'Khakhee' and was bring chartered to Mumbai when the newsreader on this channel alledgely asked the reporter present at the airport whether Vivek Oberoi had a bouquet of flowers in hands for his damsel who was about to land! You would know that at that time, the two were reportedly a couple.

Ban their licences?
My ex-cable operator had told me once that according to the Government of India (GOI) norms, all cable TV operators must cumpulsorily show all news channels, in national interest. They can be selective about entertainment channels depending upon the aggreement between them and the channels. I do not know if this is true. But if it is, then the GOI must review its policies and perhaps selectively revoke the licences of a few of such news channels that actually are entertainment channels, disguising themseleves as news channels. News channels, especially some Hindi ones, must pull up thier socks and start telecasting news of national interest, rather than their own.

Ultimately, the remote control is with us, the viewer. Nobody forces us to watch anything on TV. The choice is ours. As responsibile citizens of this country, we must encourage good journalism and throw bad journalism out of the window. I am not saying there is no place for entertainment or sports or such items in a news capsule. But a 30-minute news capsule that devotes 20 minutes or more to items such as Bipasha Basu's kiss with the football star, for instance, is no news and only entertainment. How much of entertainment should be contained in a 30-minute news capsule, must be responsibly ascertained by their editors

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