I have never watched so much television as I did last week. I’ve been glued to the box and the Internet from last Monday, when the general elections were announced. Here are some quick comments (and asides) to the developments of last week.
To my mind, the polls that will happen in April and May – for the Lok Sabha and three State Assemblies – will be the biggest media event in India. It’ll be the ‘mother of all reality shows’ and it could well cause some relief to the slowdown-hit channels and publications.
Monday also saw the launch of Real, which I thought was fair. My view: it’s still early days, and while I enjoyed the two weekday shows at 9 pm and 9.30 pm, I found ‘Sarkaar ki Duniya’ to be a poor cousin of ‘Bigg Boss’, and although I watched ‘Poker Face’s finale as against the opening act of the Filmfare Awards on Sony or ‘Sarkar Raj’ on Colors, it was more for purposes of this review. I think Sharman Joshi and his game show needed a week more to grow on me. The Alvas are pros at reality TV, so I’m sure they’re sure of what they are doing. So, I am looking forward to some real action in the coming weeks.
I couldn’t watch much of Real on Tuesday as all eyes were on the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore. While the nightly discussions on the news channels were super, I am very impressed with the snatches of Dawn News that I saw on Times Now. By the way, check out the spanking new Dawn.com site that has finally emerged from the veil of its Beta stage. It’s cool and smart, quite like some of the presenters and packaging I saw of the channel.
The impact of the election dates and the terror strike meant problems aplenty for the Indian Premier League, and given the amount at stake for everyone, events on that front grabbed much attention of everyone in the media. This, even as players within some of the networks were digesting the TAM ratings report that saw Colors just 0.9 points lower than Star Plus. It’s not the end of the road for the aspirations of either channel or of the others – Zee and Sony specifically – which are tweaking their offerings with new shows, time slots, etc.
And while we are on Sony, my last point of view for the week: All media companies are in the process of trimming costs. Barely a week after the Multi Screen Media’s interim CEO and COO Man Jit Singh and N P Singh told a colleague and me that all was well at the network came the news of several exits – some voluntary and a few reportedly forced. NP did indicate of some attempts of rationalisation, but this information was extraordinary as it came in within weeks of generalissimo Kunal Dasgupta’s sudden departure. And on the very same day that we heard that, Albert Almedia, Business Head of the flagship channel, had put in his papers.
I am told that termination notices have also been issued to select staff at other leading networks. We don’t have a confirmation on these, but expect more names to roll out soon. The unfortunate thing is you don’t know if it’s a lay-off or a voluntary resignation. But even though as journalists we like to get the juicy details, it is tough getting a confirmation on the real picture. In the bargain, even those who may have not chosen to renew their contracts get clubbed with others. Sad.
(The views expressed here are my own. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you agree/disagree with what’s written.)