24 Hour Infomercials ?

At first, when my nani called me up to tell me that SRK was arrested in the USA – I thought that they had sent him to Gitmo ! Then i realised it was a 2 hour stop at the airport. I wonder how much airtime was spent on this – and to the exclusion of what ? and how much money did the “NEWS” channels make.

Take one bloated super star ego, mix a nation in the grip of paranoia ; stir in customs and immigration officers who think that they are god ; simmer with silly season ; add a dash of news channels with no ethics, and journalists who would sensationlise their mothers’ sex life if they thought it would get them better TRP’s – and bingo you get ‘……because My name is Khan’ kind of overkill.

The unkind say that this was publicity for the film. I don’t buy that – this sort of stupid serendipity cannot be paid for. It has to happen only when every body f***s up and the News media compound it by forgetting that they are the watchdogs on behalf of the public – and get co-opted by the ruling elite.

On the day Shahrukh Khan got detained for two hours — oh my god, how can someone stop SRK for two hours, hang them, quarter them; no quarter them, hang them — 21 farmers committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh because they couldn’t pay off their debt.

But, farmers committing suicide cannot be sponsored, it does not drive up TRP’s and it definitely is not conducive for off the cuff ranting by our esteemed ‘journalists’. (note: i use the term journalist very, very loosely, and I apologise to any real journalist who is offended at my comparing the lot on TV to them)

24 Hour Blogs – one can say – but that too,would be unkind. There a whole bunch of bloggers whom i follow and whose integrity and intent I respect – even if i differ with them on their views. There isn’t a single TV journalist I can put in the same category.

Since 26/11 I have stopped watching TV news – except for DD. I read papers – sometimes – but mostly I subscribe to various RSS feeds – including bloggers, columnists and news agencies – and I figure what is happening in the world. I get my updates from my mother or my grandmother – who are avid news watchers on the death and disaster and slap to ego that is happening in the world. I listen to them, much the same way that I do, when they tell me what is happening in their favorite soap 🙂

So if we can’t call really call them journalists, or news channels or even bloggers – then what are they? If you read this excellent piece in The HOOT you will realise that a whole bunch of them are putting out ‘NEWS’ that is not in Public Interest – as they claim – but in the interest of Interested Parties – that they have close commercial ties with. So 24 hour Infomercial Channels – is possibly what we ought to call them. They have the same repetition, the same music that drives you to action, the same kind of ‘we asked 30 people and they said’ mode of driving home their point. So, if they are in the pay of commercial interests and if they are putting out content in the interest of these commercial interests, shouldn’t they be regulated by some body ?


Other Blogs with a different take on the same issue :
Churumuri on – Is an immigration clerk threat to our sovereignty?
Melissa George’s – Who is this Shahrukh Khan character anyway?
Prerna on My Name is Khan And Hence I was Detained
Shishir Joshi’s My Name is Khan…ummm…..er…so?
Reality Check India’s – We Are Not Outraged


  1. Author

    Goodness, I don’t watch crap news channels anymore! Journalism in TV died long long time ago and bad it can’t be reviewed any more.

    I stick to news paper (Hindu) and Weekly (Outlook) for my does of news. I am happy to say, I have not become ignorant of current affairs by missing the Idiot box.

    1. Author

      neither do I – it terrifies me. i feel like i am under attack. man bites hordes of dogs 🙂

      I read a lot of blogs – follow desipundit and blogbharati for blog views. read op-eds, read columnists and look at google news india. also, read insight – the Dality youth magazine, Hoot – the media watch dog and Goodnews India – now I feel a lot better about the world.

  2. Author

    I share with you the sentiments (and truth) about our news channels!! The Deccan Chronicle of Hyderabad edition had SRK on its front page with a photo and a big write-up too. Just beside it, in smaller font was the news about the PM assuring to fight back drought and famine.
    What proportion!!
    We have our priorities all mixed up!

    1. Author

      totally. last year’s coverage of the Kosi floods came from foreign news wires, before our news media picked up the stories 🙁 but then Bihar is not a TRP state

  3. Author

    Indian Media has now become an extreme act of exhilaration, which cannot be tortured anymore. There are a few news channels which I cannot even stand for like 5 mins as they just talk crap.

    1. Author

      5 minutes – gosh you have a high endurance level. i hear them from two rooms away, while my mother has them on louder than needed.

      and welcome to this blog 🙂

  4. Author

    Nothing riles up the average clerk in an average government office than the words “Do you know who I am?”.

    1. Author

      welcome to this blog.
      i would think that ‘do you know who my father is’ would come very close to that 🙂

  5. Author

    Gargi, we are living in dystopian society and this mass media has been submissive for glamour coated lives of few elites. In the process of discovering alien / dark side of things, one begins to lose one’s identity and falls into the trap of becoming an alienated person contemptuous of everything natural and uniquely inherited in him. The media whose purpose was to act as watchdog for the society has beceome pet of the power and money owning elites of the country.

    Its like circular reasoning, media runs for TRP & people wants to see sensational news. No one is there to break this loop. All of us are using the internet but how many people actually have internet connection at their house in India. And we are really coming into the age of corporate sponsored imperialism with the support of mass media.

    I see this youtube genrated videos used in their clippings, I moan that if journalist is searching utube for material, then who is out there checking ground realities. Farmers are committing suicides and our media checks the growth of country in no. of cars per thousand people. Ridiculous.

    1. Author

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with measuring growth with no. of cars per thousand people. That should be as much a contributing factor as any statistics that measures how the lives of farmers is getting better or worse. I have a problem with our, if I may take the liberty to generalize, Indian way of focusing on one problem, or one large group of people. I don’t think Indian news will become awesome if they just started reporting about farmer deaths. That would be boring and frustrating just as all media’s attention on very few popular topics as we have now. I’m happy TRAI is redefining broadband to 2mbs, is gonna subsidise it, and hope there is wider internet access, in more languages n all that, and hopefully in 5 years mass media in India will be on its knees like it is in the US now. That’ll be awesome (evil laughter).

      1. Author

        Sriram,It seems that both of us belong to utter opposite school of thoughts. Regarding boring and frustating topics, I will quote one of the prominent journalist of our time, P Sainath — The media’s attention was moving from “news” to “entertainment” and consumerism and lifestyles of the urban elite gained prominence in the newspapers which rarely carried news of the reality of poverty in India. “I felt that if the Indian press was covering the top 5 per cent, I should cover the bottom 5 percent.”

        1. Author

          Here, P Sainath is quoting on the major economic decision when the International Monetary Fund-led economic reforms launched in 1991 by Manmohan Singh constituted a watershed in India’s economic history .

          Hence, his address is in the past tense. And there is difference in luxury and basic necessity required for survival. Its not about cars or TRP mainly, is about putting priorities to the news required for awareness campaign. Hope these weblinks will give you about gravity of the situation.


          And internet connection will not change the scenario here, the habit of consumerism inculcalted by manufacturing news is too hard to remove. The content of Infomercials in the interest of these commercial interests will prevail there also and further delude original thinkers of future genration.

          According to figures released by the Internet Government Forum in Hyderabad earlier in the month – In 2007, there were about 13.5 million Internet subscribers in India, representing 1.15 per 100 habitants. Broadband subscribers accounted for over 3.1 million of these, or 0.27 per 100 inhabitants. The number of users – those who report that they have online access, but do not themselves subscribe – was far greater: some 81 million, or 6.93 users per 100 inhabitants.

          Your point is valid about internet but India is not America. Giant mass media has arose here and it will take long timebefore Internet can really became a affecting parameter in changing opinions.

  6. Author

    not sure if internet will really be a source of news. most blogs use data that is already published in other media and use it.. most of them are opinions of the bloggers rather than hard-core reporting, which requires lot of legwork and research.
    and news in the US seems to be dead already.. all one can see is highly opiniated blogs, which use data from some source or the other according to their priorities. so how on earth can one say that a blog is unbiased and balanced than print/tv media?
    there can be change only if the public(majority) stop being voyeuristic and the media self-regulates and stops its ‘give the public what they want’ policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *