Comment: Government! Leave those channels alone

While it’s okay for an MP to raise issues about the content on television channels, the Government must show restraint and not attempt to police the media, feels Pradyuman Maheshwari.

e4m by Pradyuman Maheshwari
Published: Jul 23, 2009 9:42 AM  | 3 min read
Comment: Government! Leave those channels alone

Pardon the mauling of the Pink Floyd lyrics, but I couldn’t help doing a media spin on the popular song. For, the Government is clearly doing what it shouldn’t be getting into: policing channels on flimsy morality issues. In the Rajya Sabha, an esteemed Member of Parliament (MP) raised the issue of vulgarity depicted on ‘Sach Ka Saamna’. Nothing wrong in it. The Rajya Sabha comprises individuals who are voted in by elected representatives of the people. Naturally, MPs need to address the views of those who voted for them, political party and masters, if any, and the public at large.

But that’s not the case with the Government. While it is answerable to the people, it’s got to do what’s good for creative folk, the craft and, more importantly, the country. So, I am indeed surprised that I&B Minister Ambika Soni, who has until now handled her portfolio with a great deal of maturity and restraint, has summoned channel owners on the issue.

‘Sach Ka Saamna’ has an exceedingly bold format. It subjects people to questions that I wouldn’t like to be asked even if I were offered ten times the prize money. Extremely personal, and stuff that could shock you even if you were watching it all alone. But, hey, it is timed at a late hour (10.30 pm), there are options available that you could turn to if you don’t like it, and the promos are quite open that the show airs adult stuff.

‘Sach Ka Saamna’ is not the only software on television that many do not find fit for family viewing: some of the laughter/ reality/ game shows, movies, news could also be found repulsive. In fact, many of the acts of our politicians deserve to be damned. For instance, for purposes of an argument, doesn’t the unruly behaviour of Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have a very negative impact on our children, who get dismayed that their leaders do not observe decorum? That when they see such behaviour on live television, children – millions of them – will also do the same, because the politicians are, after all, their leaders. Stupid argument, right? But that’s what the learned Minister must tell the Esteemed MP: Thanks, but please hop to another channel if your sensibilities are hurt.

It is important that our channels show solidarity and ask the Government to leave them alone. I’m aware that rival networks would love to see ‘Sach Ka Saamna’ go off air, given the super ratings it generated in the opening week, but if they let the Government police their business now, you might as well turn Star Plus, Colors and Zee to Aastha or Cartoon Network!

As long as the content is not porn or anti-national, there’s nothing wrong with entertainment channels coming up with talk shows like ‘Sach Ka Saamna’. Media owners, channel bosses and content providers do know that if audiences don’t like a programme, they can switch to something else. It is commerce and competition and not content code that can best regulate channels. So, madame, chill!

(The views expressed here are my own. Don’t agree with them? Think ‘Sach Ka Saamna’ is really very vulgar? Post your comments below or email mixedmedia@exchange4media.com)

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