As of this writing, the Indian people’s respect for their mainstream media is declining. And why should we respect them anyway? All we get is just textbook lies, misinformation, and plain fake news. The newsmen, journalists, and reporters are supposed to work as the arbiter of truth. They should be providing us facts instead of selling and manipulating the emotions of the Indian people. Unfortunately, reality betrays me every time. It’s like my classmate in college who promises us the entire class bunk and, then he turned his back and attends the class himself. That classmate is the Indian mainstream media.
Before I brief more about the losing credibility of the Indian media, let me bring up the definition of the Television Rating Point or TRP in short. It is the Indian version of the rating system. A channel is judged based on viewership. The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) uses BAR-O Metre to find out which channel is popular. That resulted is declared weekly on every Thursday. What I’ve heard is that BARC equipped BAR-O meters in 45,000 households. So via the form of justice and sampling, the thousands of viewers are surveyed. This gizmo then records the number of channels watched by the family members or the selected members. This method is called the People meters. Another method of gaining a TRP is picture matching. The picture matching uses the people meter to record a tiny chunk of a picture being watched on television.
Now that I’ve talked about the TRP, I want to express my disillusionment with this system. The worst thing about the Indian Mainstream Media is that they’re becoming more TRP-mongering. Every time I turn on the news, all I see is the TRP arms race going on. Because I’ve seen how these so-called media men and journalists would stoop so low just for the sake of ratings. Exhibit the Pulwama attack in 2019. The attack took the lives of 40 soldiers. While the entire nation was shocked and mourning, the Indian media over-sensationalized the issue and then blamed Pakistan for the attacks. Now whether Pakistan was involved is highly debated. But I don’t think flat-out blaming a country would do anything well. As a result of this, Kashmiri students all over the country became victims of harassment and racism.
Let’s take an example of B, a student goes on a protest. The protest was about the government’s recent blunders and mishaps in their handlings of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy. And by misfortune, he was arrested by the police and is now awaiting trial. And if the reporters get wind of this, they would do everything in their power to paint B as an anti-nationalist or deshdrohi (traitor). The example is a reference to the Kanhiya Kumar Sedition Case. The Indian Media always loves to play the patriotism card as they see fit. If Electronic Arts love to exploit gamers’ nostalgia to make money, then the Indian Mainstream Media capitalizes on the sentiments of the people to get ratings. An article by The Wire highlights how this pseudo-patriotic behavior displayed by the media destroys the sense of professionalism.
Probably the lowest point of the Indian Media is the TRP Scam. What transpired is that Media Anchor, Arnab Goswami got embroiled in the manipulation of the TRP. One Hindustan Times report said that Goswami’s media company, RepublicTV was going buddy-buddy with BARC. RepublicTV officials allegedly bribed the households with BAR-O meters which could make RepublicTV more favorable in ratings. This destroys any credibility BARC has if the case goes against them. To add more salt into injury, Goswami also came under fire over the alleged WhatsApp chats. These chats allegedly include the leaked military secrets of the Indian Army, comments about important people, journalists, and celebrities, and other incidents related to corruption. If this turns out to be true then Arnab Goswami would not be in a very good position.
The people are sick with the incompetence of the Indian Media. People are now looking up to Social Media for the news. They need to understand that ratings are not everything. They need to focus on issues that deserve recognition. The economy, the ongoing pandemic, and other socio-economic subject matters are the ones that come to mind. They need to call out the government for their blunders instead of sucking up to them. Otherwise, they’ll lose the trust of the people. Furthermore, they’ll become pale shadows of their former selves.
About Author – This article has been written by Anish Bachchan, 5th year law student currently studying at Amity Law School, Noida.