Now-a-days I dread the 8:00pm news or the 9:00pm now-a-days on the Indian TV. This is not on just a single channel, BUT on all channels. Channel after channel in their news bulletins, now unleash on hapless viewers like me what they call ‘Discussions’ or ‘Panel Discussions’ or anything that goes for news. Whatever happened to just plain, good old fashioned news from across your state or India or the world. Take the example of the NewsHour on Time TV or the ‘The Buck Stops Here’ on NDTV 24X7 or India At 9 on CNN IBN. The same is the case with all news programs. Wait, if you thought, that this is only a feature of the english channels, you are mistaken. The vernacular language channels take misplaced pride in aping the concept of the so called panel discussions. I mean, on each of the news channels, where has the news gone ? On these channels, a good 60 or 90 minutes are fully dedicated to a panel discussion on just about 2 or 3 topic / issues. At times, I feel that the selection of these participants is also suspect. The timing seems suspect. The questioning seems suspect. I miss a certain Sarita Sethi ( DD Samachar ) or Mukund Joshi ( Batmya ) at this pont. These news readers presented the news in their unique ways decades ago. They had a news hour, which was jam packed with news of the day from India and abroad. It was a news program that had news, followed by sports news and then by the weather news. News that was impartial or without any of their forced analysis. Compare it with the current news formats, where news from across India or the world is just not present. Out of the 90 minutes or so, the program covers only about 2 or 3 news items and their subsequent discussions. Discussions, in which at times, when single questions of the anchor lasts for about 5 minutes and the answer is just about 30 seconds. Ridiculous. A normal assumption would be that news channels would pay guests for their views on these news channels. But, now I feel that the news channels are being paid by guests to appear on these news discussions and promote / propogate their views ( or that of their party ). This is what bothers me, as a ready audience across the country is being forced into forming a opinion based on a ‘paid news discussion’. I mean, this is my time, I pay for the satellite channel time by subscribing to the cable / DTH services. But I am being forced to watch paid news of vested interests on such news discussions. I object. In the Doordarshan days, a new format came along and a fresh perspective was brought to our living rooms – “The World This week” by Dr Pranoy Roy. This brought about a fresh view of viewing the news and it was dam interesting. Dr Roy was slowing beginning to change the way news was being handled. Vinod Dua, Siddhartha Kak / Renuka Shahane ( though Surabhi was not exactly a news program ) were a different genre than the current crop of anchors we currently have. Somewhere news suddenly changed gears and everything is now following the Fox News or Sky News formats. I just want a plain news program, or Marathi Batmya program, where news is just presented as it is. My heart craves for a classical news program, where plain news from across the country is just presented, news as it s. For gods sake, at times, we do not need analysis of every accident that happens, every tree that falls, every corruption that is unearthed, every train that derails. All I want is news as it is happening, to be reported.
The author is Consulting Editor, Intellectual Post