Saturday, February 20, 2010

TELANGANA VI: Why Telugu News Channels bar coverage?

The apathy shown by Telugu News channels in covering Telangana movement has a good reason. Initially they covered the movement from Nov 29 to Dec 9 in their typical 24x7 running commentary style with the sole purpose of increasing their TRPs, which in turn would translate into higher advertising revenues. The TRPs did increase with the marathon coverage but the Chidambaram's Dec 9 statement was an unexpected thunderbolt for them.

Discussion about separate state of Telangana, till then for the channel managements was purely 'entertainment' and something not to be taken seriously, just as it was for politicians. Telangana was a TRP money spinner for channels just the way it was a vote bank gimmick for parties. But once the Dec 9 statement came, reality of what a new state would mean dawned onto the channels. It meant a strong beating to the interests of the businessmen who own these channels. Almost all the Telugu news channels have been started by groups with strong interests in Real estate and finance companies. All these channels are profitable due to the advertising revenues they garner from thriving finance, real estate and the commercial technical education businesses in the state.

The Dec 9 declaration made all these groups, the channels and their advertising clients, go in a huddle and decide to go easy on the subsequent coverage of Telangana movement as many of these sectors stand to lose if the rules of the game in their sectors are altered in the new state. Hyderabad which falls in Telangana is their biggest market and for obvious reasons they view the new state unfavorably. So they have put an informal boycott of covering anything that would sustain or generate sympathy for the cause of Telangana even as real estate groups, bureaucrats initiated lobbying against the new state, which eventually succeeded. This explains why the police atrocities in OU are either unreported or misreported. This also explains why the many massive meetings which attracted lakhs of Telanganites went uncovered properly even while one of them was attended by the leader of the opposition inLok Sabha. This also explains why the daily suicides in Telangana are unreported and why the channels are uncritical about, if not endorsing, the state government's anti-constitutional and anti-democratic functioning.

According to a study done by Padmaja Shaw, an Associate Professor at OU about the news market in Andhra Pradesh, the following are the details about the sources of finance for prominent Telugu News Channel.

It has been clear from quite some time that Media, both print and electronic, is no more an instrument of journalistic practice but of political leverage. For instance, a TV channel bestows upon its owners a lobbying power with the powers-that-be to influence public policy, especially in sectors of their interest. The TV channel in turn shapes public opinion in favour of the powers-that-be. So no wonder all the channels that fit into the above category want us to believe what the Andhra Govt says. And with a literacy of 60.3% (ranking 26 among the 28 states and 7 union territories of India) and a TV reach of 78% and a high penetration of Cable & Satellite of 59% (One of the highest in country; Source: NRS 2006) the state of Swarnandhra Pradesh is fertile ground for Joseph Goebbels style propaganda and misinformation campaign. That is till the 40 million Telanganites' market decides to hit back with a boycott.


Naga said...

When the ruler/dominating people do not want things to happen, this is how it would be.
But to mention the reality “Cheemala Dandu Kadilinayi, Paamuku gundelu Adirinayi”. When “Telanagana” gets together no one can stop its formation.
Jai Telangana.

jshanthkumar said...

Yes amar, Its really true that all the local channels (other than those belongs to telangana) are making fun of the movement. The debates, breaking news and comments made on the movement leading to the suicides of innocent students. Media is mainly responsible for this.
Thats why I wrote the blog 'నిజం ఉద్యమం! నివురు జర్నలిజం!! ' really journalism is trying to hide the facts behind the struggle. what is happened recently in O.U is with mutual interest of Govt and Media only.

Anonymous said...

TV9 using three helicopters to 'cover' the OU rally is the heights of 'journalism'

Anonymous said...

Madhav said...


You're bang on in your allegation. I think however that internet has come as a boon for this T-cause.

I've seen so many people arguing with logic, balance and with statistical data to back their arguments.(including you)

We are facing an illusion of choice (wrt news channels)..they all say precisely the same thing at the same time...

But bloggers have been hyperactive. I'm proud to note that in this age where we usually consider youth to be selfish and money-minded, so many people (esp youth) have taken up their responsibility to change the system.

Great job (BTW as a note of personal introduction, I was involved in commenting on Sujai's blog, not sure if you recall)

Amar said...

Hi Madhav,

I do recollect :) I see the people's movement as a godsend opportunity to revive the strength in our democracy to face the many problems we have, Telanagana statehood being one of them. With a honest will, this genuine outburst of people can be channelised to solve many problems and injustices in our society. We not already hear about 'voluntary prohibition' in villages.

Madhav said...

Good one Amar! Media's role in the T and anti-T agitations should be a subject of study for years to come. Just like the political system, media too exposed itself beyond redemption.