Hey, Witbylogical community! Seeing the current coverage of news by Indian media, it compels me to write about what is wrong with the Indian media? Today in India, news channels like Republic Bharat, Aaj Tak, India TV and News 18 India are always seen at the top of TRP ratings. In all these channels every evening a Prime Time debate is aired which debates about a topic. I would like to show you a past analysis of these discussions.
In the past 10 months, the actual agendas to be discussed were the Hunger Index of India, Economic crisis, the unemployment rate in Haryana being the highest in India. But were these topics discussed enough? I don’t think so. The role of the media is to become the voice of Indian citizens and not to brainwash and divert their mind towards less critical issues.
Consequences faced by the journalists reporting the truth
Now let us see what happens with those journalists who raise the ordinary people’s voice and speak against the government. In September,’19, a journalist broke out a story of salt and roti being served as mid-day meal at a school in UP, and he was booked for criminal conspiracy. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath even ordered a probe against the journalist. Instead of looking into why is the school not receiving adequate food, the government went after the journalist for showing the truth. Another journalist in June,’19, was covering a story about train derailments, was heavily tortured by the police. He was stripped, thrashed and urinated on for doing his job. This is the harsh reality of our Indian truthful journalists today. The government has been strictly controlling the TV media.
Journalism in the past
Going back to history, if I talk about Mahatma Gandhi, he did not go to each and every door to spread his ideologies. When he was in jail, he spread the word using newspaper or print media. That is why media is said to be the fourth pillar of democracy. What if today’s media houses were present before our independence, then Britishers would have bought it out and would have convinced us, how East India Company is beneficial for the country. Out of 180 countries, (Index details -data of press freedom ranking 2020) Indian media is at 142nd rank all over the world.
Lebanon and Afghanistan, where law and order can be said to be absent, is ranked higher than India. Whenever an incident happens the role of the journalist is to put forward and report all the correct facts, keeping his opinion aside. After that the part of the people comes whether to believe and understand and whether not to. But the problem here is that we are being directed to comprehend and trust their perspective from the news they report.
Impact of journalism to our administrative policies
A journalist who keeps you informed about the current affairs also affects the decision making of various policies. So, it is the responsibility of the journalist to speak each and every word very carefully and responsibly. Suppose you receive an email that you have won a 50 crores lottery and to get the money you have to transfer $500 into one account, would you do it? Obviously not! Do you think anyone in the world would do the same? You must be saying – NO! But the reality is that $90 million or 650 crores rupees loss has been reported due to this email scam. So, just think how many people can be fooled and votes are gained every 5 years. People actually believe that they are going to the voting booth and casting their vote with their own free will. But what if the votes cast based on the knowledge and understanding of their favourite party is incorrect, then what? If you understand it wisely, it’s intelligently planned, and votes are being directed keeping you in the delusion that you are voting with your free will.
Steve Bannon, who was the ex-strategist of the White House, said in 2019 that – “The actual opposition of the ruling government is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood them with garbage news.” People’s attention would always be directed towards garbage news, and the government will pass the bills and ordinances easily.
What is actually happening in the name of authentic journalism
Here are some of the names of the debates on Indian news channels with the highest TRPs
- Ye POK Wapas De De, Imran (Aaj Tak)
- Mere Ram vs Tere Ram (Zee News)
- Modi ka Prann- Pakistan ka Cheer Haran (News 18)
- Vipaksh Pada hai Chakkar Mein Koi nahin hai Takkar mein (Aaj Tak)
- Jab tak todenge nahin tab tak chhodenge nahin (News18)
- Modi ke 100 din vs Vipaksh ke bure din (News18)
- Mangal Bhavan Amangal Haari- Ram mandir ki karo tayyari (News18)
Actual journalism is a tiring job. One has to prepare a detailed report as well as go out and report on the ground showing the ground reality. Now to replace the hard work, these anchors who are slowly shifting towards acting, catch 4 random people and start a debate on air. If you notice well, all those people who shout a lot, create controversies and propaganda, they are called over and over again. Media houses are so confident that the same person is featured in their debates under different names and varied expertise.
News Channels as a sustainable business
Now I think everyone agrees that Indian media is a sellable product and all marketable products do have a market of its own. You must be agreeing to the fact that every party has money, be it the ruling party or the opposition. And it was so, then every channel would show varied propaganda news but what we see is that the propaganda remains more or less the same on all the TV channels. There is also a reason behind this as well. It looks simple, but it isn’t so.
Here comes – “Media Consolidation” where a handful of people take over the media of a country directly or indirectly. If you want to know the names of the people involved in Indian media, you can check the website – www.rsf.org. This is a non-profit organization which after researching over the years and revealed the names of all those people who are taking over the media houses of a particular country.
A mainstream media channel requires about 80-100 crores of rupees to run, 30-50 crores for distribution so that it reaches out to people. Then comes establishment cost, production cost, salaries and the annual news channel gatherings. In short, running a news channel is a very costly affair. A news channel earns in two ways- 1-subscription, 2- Advertisements. Subscription is the amount we as a consumer pay to the DTH providers to view the track i.e. approximately 1-3 rupees/ channel. But 75% of their revenue demands are fulfilled by advertisements. Hence, if any medium wants to stay on the air for long, they need to remain dependent on ads, and this is the single biggest problem for which the trouble starts.
News channels becoming new-age entertainment platforms
In the elections of 2019, more than 25000 crores were spent on campaigning on social media and publicity. So, indirectly the government is media’s customer and going against your customer is obviously not desirable. Even the corporate giants avoid those news channels who speak against the government because it affects the policies set up by the government. The news channels have henceforth figured out, not to speak against the government. However, the competition still lies as all the TV channels are doing the same. There are about 600 news channels or media houses in India. How much do you think when the advertisement revenue is divided, each channel receives? Therefore, the end of the day, “the buck stops here” at the TRP ratings.
If I talk about the month August 2020, in the entertainment category Star Utsav has 12 lakh impressions whereas Republic Bharat has 34 lakh impressions. This means that a news channel is almost 3 times more viewed than an entertainment channel. That is why news channels have figured out that they have to slowly shift their content towards entertainment; otherwise, they will face the same dire situation as DD news.
Fake news has spice and entertainment that is attractive visually as well as on the ears. “Vishkanya”, “Pakistan tere tukde honge,” even India TV said that Himesh Reshammiya will be kidnapped by aliens. In western countries, fake news is propagated on social media and mainstream media clarifies it, whereas, in India, it is the opposite.
Previously newspaper was first printed, and the news was sold, which is contrary to today’s times where information is sold first and then printed. Today if, in the process of saving your life, someone comes under the TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, commonly known as TADA) act, a social media and media trial starts. Whereas if an actor comes under TADA, he comes out of jail, giving out a blockbuster movie as well as ordinary people wants to touch and get a glimpse of him.
No neutral regulatory body for NEWS channels
The third most prominent reason is that there are no regulatory laws over the Indian media. If I talk about the UK there is Ofcom (Office of communication). In the US, FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is present, but there’s no such system in India. Thanks to TRAI which tries every 3 months and 6 months, that complaint commission of press comes forward. Still, since India’s independence it hasn’t taken place neither am I hopeful. This isn’t a coincidence, but every ruling government doesn’t want it to come up. There’s only News broadcasters Association present which is set up by the news channel itself meaning if someone is making a mistake, you are taking the complaint to the person itself for judgement and punishment. This is a joke in itself.
At this point in time, in Maharashtra itself, various types of news are being spread. If I talk about 2018, 2761, farmers committed suicide. They obviously have no clue about depression, and if you ask anyone, they will definitely say that they are entitled to justice. But they will get justice when actual news reaches out to people. If you think that the government will change and things will change all of a sudden, so that is definitely a myth. Be it the past, the present and the future government, media is and has been managed in the same way.
All these arguments I am writing about aren’t my own opinions only because every proof is available on the internet. Cobrapost conducted sting operations on 136 news channels where they offered money in return of spreading fake propaganda news. The net worth of Republic TV is 1200 crores, and Arnab Goswami has 80-85% shareholding. Arnab Goswami has been giving his judgement on nepotism for the last three months, and he has appointed his wife as news production and editor’s head. The ideal case should have been to appoint someone who is the most capable person for the post.
So what is the solution to all of this?
The news we are consuming daily should be avoided by those sources which are running only based on Ads. Search “Alternative media” on any search engine, and you will get names of all those media houses. How are they different from the rest, is your question? Right? They take donations from common people and present you news on a subscription basis. Last but not the least any fake news, so-called said scams and frauds, propaganda news, etc., please do not believe it blindly. Go by the facts and search for credible information before building up an opinion. Even check all the facts written in this blog as well and then validate m argument.
2nd point is whichever media house or political party or religion etc. you support, that is not where I am trying to interfere. We all have debated Congress vs BJP, Hindu vs Muslim in the past and will continue to do so in the future as well. But by doing all this has it benefitted us in any way? If yes, then we can have a discussion again. But genuinely and practically we as responsible citizens will only be aided when we talk about important, urgent and burning topics.
For example- Private schools take such high fees in comparison to government schools because the education system in government schools, was, is and will be worse in the future as well if we do not take a stand for their improvement. Today, Sushant Singh Rajput received CBI investigation because we took a collective stand on it and henceforth it has become mandatory for us to take a stand for others agendas as well. What are your opinions on the way the current media is presenting news? Is their a room for improvement? And can alternative media be a way forward for the future? Because CNN, BBC, The Washington Post, The guardian works similarly.