Breaking News, Really?

With every kind of business, associated is a certain level of risk. The 24×7 news channels are no exceptions. In particular, I would like to throw some light on what is on air on the number one, sabse tez Hindi news channels. The reason I choose Hindi news channels and not their English counterparts is because my observations and conclusions are based on the stories they showcase and are not at all applicable to the latter.

I don’t see these news channels as anything else than business, obviously profit being the motive. After all, even they have to spend a lot – pay for spectrum license, pay the reporters, cameraman, purchase equipments, take care of travel and accommodation of the ‘correspondents’. Now, like a typical business, it involves expenses (as mentioned above), income (advertisements, advertisements and more advertisements) and risk. While the former two are pretty obvious, the third element is the one that needs some elaboration.

Since the entire process is based on current happenings and presenting them to the viewers, what does one do when nothing happens? One just cannot take the channel off air, right? So, when there is no important incident taking place and the channel has already shown their excusive coverage of a monkey snatching a lady’s handbag and climbing up a tree, and that they had already made sure that they capture the exclusive (though every channel shows it, just the camera angles differ. So exclusive refers to that different camera angle), what else can be done? Obviously they can’t show these two ‘news’ items the entire day. So what these channels resort to is analysis and inferences. For instance, Shera being there with Katrina Kaif implies that Salman and Katrina have not broken up and that the report they showed a few days back regarding Salman proposing Mahek was baseless.

But even now, they do not have enough to put on air for the entire 20 hours (actually 10 because the 10 hour footage is then repeated). The reason I say 10 is because 2 hours are taken up by horoscope telling (first by tarot cards, then numerology, then Indian Zodiac, then crystal ball) and programs that keep you up to date with what has happened to Saloni, Tulsi and all Betiyaan. It is just great that you don’t have to watch all different channels and waste time, you have them all at one single place. I just missed that another 1 hour is usually taken up by showing the same old jokes by the same old men Raju Srivastava, Sunil Pal, etc but at different new events. Out of the 7 hours left, another one is taken up by that scary looking man who brings all ‘Sansanikhez’ news regarding robberies, murders, suicides, etc which do not involve high profile people. Here I must mention that the way he presents, all this seems like he is accusing you of that murder or making you believe that the remote control you have in your hand is actually the knife used to commit the murder.

So, even the three different stories (monkey, Katrina and Katrina inference) are not enough to cover the 6 hour duration left. What next? They have no choice but to create news. How? Tell Shah Rukh Khan that Aamir Khan said this and that about him and then go back to Aamir and tell him that SRK said this and that in response to the previous this and that. Another idea is to compare how celebrities get angry and compare events like Pathan leaving the press conference, Randip Hooda beating up his society’s chairman and Salman beating up a mediaperson way back. And if still there is some time left then go back to the old tried and tested idea of connecting Cricket and Bollywood. Yuvraj = Deepika – Kim + Raima where Deepika = Deepika + Ranbir – Dhoni.

It is not just the channels; even the leading national dailies like Hindustan Times have the same news items in both the main paper and the supplements. Another aspect of business is production (or reproduction) and that is what they do – create news.

This is my observation of the processes that go on. I really don’t think I’m too far away from the truth, am I?

Prateek Khurana

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