Disheartened with the way the media covered the recent episode of two Rohtak sisters thrashing men, I tried considering some other news source that I wanted to be reliable and worthy enough to pay heed to. The list of most trusted news sources had the BBC, a UK-based international public service broadcaster, on the very top, followed by the National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Station, both hailing from the US and running their operations as not-for-profit media organizations. Prasar Bharti, India’s largest public broadcaster, mind you, India- the third largest economy of the world by Purchasing Power Parity, does not stand anywhere in the list. In the world’s largest democracy, real empowerment lies in informed decision making by the administration, judiciary, and even the common man. The irony, however, is that privately-run media houses, or shall we say news traders, seeking commercial aims are carrying over their weak shoulders the responsibility of collating and broadcasting news to Indian viewers. The outcomes are ‘Breaking News’ every now and then, and the reliability of these are at risk most of the times. Equipped with anchors holding all the ability in the world to yell and play with words, and with sometimes-attractive and sometimes-horrifying visual effects, private news houses were here to extract paybacks that they understood Prasar Bharti would not be able to owing to lack of resources and skilled administration.
We all know that news channels make and break the news to serve their sole aim of engaging more and more viewers. They are dramatic, senseless, humorous and most of time mistaken. It is not long that a head of one of the leading news channels of India, along with another office-bearer of reputed rank, was accused of extorting money from an eminent businessman for not airing negative reports linking him and his group to the Coalgate scam. It is true that I have borrowed the expression ‘news traders’ from the present Prime Minister of India, but as a common man seeking for unbiased and quality news reports, and not news bites, I had no other option. The quoted instances are not the only ones, and most of you would approve that our news houses are more than just reporters, they are the representative of the common man, they are the police and they are also the judiciary. Where did they derive so much of power from? Not that complex question to answer. With high TRPs they make the common man believe what they tell, they also declare the alleged accused as criminal with a visual dramatic representation of an incidence which makes the most sensational news. In the general polls of 2014, a cluster of news houses was backing either of the political parties and same is the case in all state polls. Will democracy, secularism and sovereignty of India be able to sustain in such a milieu where the opinion of common man is dominated by the corrupt media?
Being aware of the surroundings, understating the policies of our government, knowing the social happenings, and true criticism of what is wrong are the crucial pillars of any democracy. And the source from where this is awaited is media. While news channel debates should be a place for unbiased opinions, what we are observing these days is nothing more than clashes. More than social or political evils, inapt reporting by media houses is killing the development. Left with no apt choice, the audience is helpless and is thus made to believe whatsoever is reported. Hasty and unskilled media men, in the conquest to deliver superfast news, condemn blameless men. Having realized the level to which these reporters accuse any and every person, I was thinking that the number of defamation suits would be at the peak. But we have become used to. Sometime back many news channels criticized a self-styled God-man, and to a surprise, same man can now be seen delivering messages of God on the same news channels. Many pointless, or shall I say stupid news become highlights of a particular day; however turn worthless to even talk about the other day. Where is prudent reporting? Where are constructive discussions and meaningful criticism? Where is unprejudiced report card of our probable MPs and MLAs? The ‘fast than the faster’ philosophy is ruling the entire media domain and is in turn curbing any possibility of us being delivered with news that can enhance our outlook towards a particular subject. Solution is easy- revamping of Prasar Bharti.
How about a BBC-like Prasar Bharti? Valued for the way and adeptness the BBC collates and broadcasts news is an example to follow for the Indian public broadcaster. And the same isn’t that tricky. Aiming at digitization of India, foremost need is to digitize and afford capable manpower to Doordarshan and All India Radio. The panel on revamping of Prasar Bharti has proposed manpower assessment and audit, along with drawing up of an optimal organizational structure. The Sam Pitroda-led panel has advised adding to this audit a re-deployment plan that shall aptly address concerns related to training, re-skilling and promotion of the present workforce. It is to be noted that the Prasar Bharti has a headcount of more than 32,000 employees, while the same in BBC is just 10,000. But the right person is at the right place and technology is being exploited with ultimate adeptness. Prasar Bharti owns the largest broadcasting substructure in the country and this at some point in time in the past was accompanied with unlimited talent. A task for present government, the head of which has been worried about news trading, is to undertake inclusive measures that can revive the gem of Indian media, Prasar Bharti. The sad demise of cricketer, Phillip Hughes has been running continuously in the media, however, the martyrs of LOC are neglected to the core. Doesn’t this call for intelligent reporting rather than reporting just for TRP? It is crucial that rewarding staffing system and aggressive technology revolution is implemented in Prasar Bharti, else claiming to be the representatives of the common man, paybacks-seeking private media houses will leave no stone unturned in weakening the forte of democracy and social fairness.