Category Archives: Television

A fine satire on Indian News channels

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In today’s Indian Express there is a satirical piece by Saubhik Chakrabarti which is so good, I couldnt resist recommending it to all who might watch Indian news channels. Please do not sue me over cop right, Mr. Saubhik Chakrabarti, for reproducing in toto your excellent satirical piece.

from Indian Express

Yamuna rising in TV studios

ONE of the things about government, it has no sense of fun. No sense at all. This evidently applies to sarkari broadcasters, too. Thus it was that on Thursday evening, a Doordarshan reporter sounded disap ointingly sober while talking to the anchor. The reporter asically said that a rising Yamuna is pretty unlikely to make Delhi look like the sets of Waterworld; private broad asters, the DD journalists concluded, were perhaps over stimating things a bit.

Guys, guys, what about your TRPs, huh? Where’s the un, DD? Yeah, you were right –Delhi will cope with a risng Yamuna just as Mumbai coped with Cyclone Phyan.
But that’s totally not the point -if you want to compete in he news TV market. For that you need this: On Times Now the anchor says the capital is bracing itself for a cata trophy (sic) of sorts. `Catastrophe’ is the word, really. But ook at me, quibbling while I may get washed away.

Times Now says, disapprovingly, the Delhi CM put up a rave front and she called the situation “serious”. What hould the CM have done? She should have looked terriied in front of news cameras and sobbed, my city is facing a atastrophy of sorts. Then, the journalism of sorts that news TV gives us could have really had a go. Still, Times Now idn’t give up. After the catastrophy bit, there was dramatic music -think background score of ’70s Bollywood film as ustful villain approaches unsuspecting, pure heroine–and hen, `Delhi braces for floods’. The anchor said Yamuna water has crossed the 206-metre mark. The reporter said he latest update from Delhi government is that the level is 05.49 metres. Who do I believe? The anchor, of course.
Water levels, temperature levels, political corruption levels, retty much any level, are always higher inside TV studios han outside. That’s why TV studios are such fun places.

That’s why CNN-IBN’s morning news show had `Mon oon Fury’ as its theme, with a photograph of a man and a woman, three-quarters submerged. All sorts of catastrophy n that photo. `Yamuna crosses danger mark’, said the big er on-screen caption, the smaller one, right below, said, River Yamuna flowing at danger mark’. You see the beauty f this, as you brace for the catastrophy? Yamuna is flowing t and over the danger mark at the same time? Take your ick. I think, just as it was in Times Now, Yamuna was flowng higher inside the CNN-IBN studio than outside.

The CNN-IBN reporter said it is very unlikely that Yamuna water will come into residential areas as such. `As uch’? The anchor said that is reassuring, as it comes, at the moment. `As it comes’? This kind of news TV talk, as it omes, is hard to figure out but is quite entertaining, as such.

IBN 7 was clearer: when Yamuna’s water level hits 207 metres, it said, there will be water pretty much everywhere.
This is science, man! 207 metres = Doomed Delhi. So exact.

o confident. Science masquerading as journalism.

I checked out Headlines Today. Headlines Today said Delhi braces for Friday flood fury’. `Fury’? Yes, because it lliterates with `Friday’ and `flood’. That’s crucial when ews TV writes headlines not just for today, but any day.

ome headline suggestions for Headlines Today for other urrent stories: `Ohio & Obama outsourcing outrage’; Dreading Delhi’s Dengue Danger’; `Punished Pak players acked-off’. Hey, this is great fun. But let’s remember the ituation is serious–oh dear, no, no, that makes me sound ike Sheila Dikshit.

The situation is a catastrophy of sorts because Headlines oday said these swirling waters are on their way to Delhi nd could wreak havoc. I had a vision: those nasty, mean wirling waters from Haryana, stopping at a dhaba for a uick snack “on their way” to Delhi, where we wait, for avoc, fury and catastrophy.

Link to the article in Express.

Author’s address: saubhik.chakrabarti@expressindia.com

Television and popular culture

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tvIn the present, TV perhaps best represents popular culture in India. The sheer numbers set it apart from any other form cultural expressions. The traditional forms of popular culture have been tokenised displayed in ‘Festivals’ and tourist fairs. Print culture is though thriving, has conceded the edge to TV long back. Cinema, despite the resurgence through multiplexes in cities can’t flex its muscles faced with the popularity of TV. Thus, as far as consumption, involvement and sheer magnitude of production is concerned no cultural production today matches that of TV.

Does TV represent popular culture truly? I think this question is rather innocent. We can hardly think that a medium can be ‘true’ representative considering the fact that there are a variety of manipulations. What I call manipulation here is the mechanism by which in a society people are drawn into doing something and believing that they are doing something. Now, as far as TV is concerned we are led to believe that what appears on TV is actually what the people want on TV. So popular programmes are liked by a majority – this is an illusion the mechanism creates as it keep calling people into becoming the consumers of the programmes.

The shifting popularity of programmes is an indication that something more than popular taste is involved in the deciding the dominant TV shows. There was a time when countdown shows were primetime. Then the quiz game shows. Then there was a period of K-series. Then came the turn of the laughter shows. Then that of the singing competitions. Currently, I guess it reality shows. I might be speaking too late. May be adventure shows have taken over.

How should we appreciate the TV culture? Surly the dismissive attitude is the least suitable as much as an innocent trust in the self-claims of the industry. We have to admit that TV today has unparalleled following. It has become an industry that can affect the GDP considering that it is not concentrated in one city or so. Almost in each linguistic state of India there is a boom. There is big population that is improving its economy through this media. TV provides livelihood to perhaps as many people as IT does, certainly to more people than BT does. Fortunately these opportunities are open to people of various backgrounds and caste-communities in each TV industry.

Thus the TV economy has to be seen as a base and we have to look for the superstructure as it were. What we see on the TV monitor is only one part of the culture we are talking about. Apart from the kind of stories told on the TV, the kind of stories TV creates in the lives of people is very important. TV has come to shape certain social relations, not only lifestyle. This leads to the way society function. Hence, TV can be considered to represent culture.

Like school essays, we may be tempted to talk of the merits and demerits of TV. That is not my take here. I am interested in understanding the status of TV as popular culture. In doing so, I don’t want to limit myself to what comes to be telecast but take into account the lives shaped by the TV industry.

I think considering the status of TV as popular culture we got to think of the following:

* The economy it has put in place

* The breadth of social participation in this economy

* Does it enable social mobility for people of various classes?

* Does it give rise to new forms of living?

* Does it challenge / dismantle earlier forms of social relations/lifestyles?

* Does it weave into its fabric pre-existing cultural forms?

* Does it alter / replace/ kill other cultural forms?

Well, you want to add more? Do tell me.