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Mixed Media: Worry #1 on Day 5 of 2010: will ‘Aman Ki Asha’ force Times Now to go soft on Pakistan...

05-January-2010
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Mixed Media:  Worry #1 on Day 5 of 2010: will ‘Aman Ki Asha’ force Times Now to go soft on Pakistan...

We are on the fifth day of the New Year and a decade, and even though there is much optimism and happiness expressed, there are some worries that I have based on news and developments of the last week. Here are five of these…

Will ‘Aman Ki Asha’ force Times Now to go soft on Pakistan?

While a differentiated offering may be a factor Times Now has steadied itself as the numero uno English news channel in the country, it’s asking the tough questions on Pakistan and a clear Pak and China-bashing policy on its primetime bulletins that got viewers hooked on to it. And now, the group’s flagship product – The Times of India – has made a clarion call for India-Pak amity. Wrote Jaideep Bose in his editorial note on January 1, “We believe the media can serve as facilitators in fostering greater understanding between people. Unfortunately — and TOI cannot entirely escape blame — we tend to focus far too much on the negative. In the process, the good that people do is drowned out by the sensational, and by the constant flow of death-and-destruction headlines.” While there is a lot that both our countries have in common – from the food we eat to the swear words exchanged – there’s clearly no need to go on soft on Pakistan in matters of defence and terrorism. One of course hopes that there aren’t too many opportunities thrown up for Arnab Goswami to go on another offensive.

Will YRF TV work for Sony?

There was much excitement about the new shows from Yash Raj Films’ television company on Sony. Some of the best names and minds in the business were pulled in, but the three shows that I have seen thus far have been disappointing. Despite the fact that both Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan are exceedingly at ease with each other on screen, the opening episode of ‘Lift Kara De’ was awful. The concept of ‘Seven’, too, will take some time to settle in and perhaps the only way ‘Rishta.com’ will work is if it is made snappier and the duration is halved to 30 minutes. After an hour wasted on ‘Rishta.com’, I couldn’t get myself to sit through ‘Powder’ and have promised myself to watch the rest only if I get some positive reviews from those who’ve seen them.

Unfortunate that the promos looked very exciting, but the shows didn’t. Just what they did for some of the Yash Raj films, which bombed at the Box-Office. There’s a fair amount riding on this for Sony and one hopes they grow on viewers and/or some corrective measures are taken urgently.

Why does our film industry not respect intellectual property well enough?

The Chetan Bhagat-3 Idiots controversy is coming out of our ears. Yesterday, we saw a smartly produced video statement from Raju Hirani, which presented his point of view. Since producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra has met his contractual obligations, there’s little that Bhagat can do. However, having read ‘Five Point Someone’ and seen ‘3 Idiots’, I agree that the book ought to have been credited upfront and not just dismissed to rolling credits. It is Bhagat’s mistake that he didn’t insist on this on the contract, so now he just needs to, as Chopra would say, shut up and bear it. Sad.

Will the Editors Guild initiative on paid news work?

While it’s a good sign that forums like the Editors Guild of India have been proactive on the paid news syndrome that afflicts Indian media, I am not sure if it will work. For one, the ethics committee is headed by T N Ninan of Business Standard with editors BG Varghese, Sumit Chakravartty and Madhu Kishwar as its members. All of them have impeccable reputations, but the committee should have engaged journalists from across the spectrum – including those from elsewhere in the country. Yes, a part of the problem does lie with publications that exist or are headquartered in the Capital, but it’s more rampant in the regional press. For readers to continue their faith in the news media, it’s vital that the practice is regulated soon soon enough.

Will mobile transaction get due patronage?

Credit card transactions on the Internet are still frowned upon by many, but the success of airline and railway ticketing saw the medium grow. Similarly, telcos, merchants (especially travel services), must work together to support the Reserve Bank of India’s hiking of the cap on funds transfer and transactions via mobile phones. Although the ceiling of Rs 10k per purchase is low, it’s a good beginning and must receive adequate patronage for the cellphone to grow into a potent media entity. As of now, telcos and banks don’t appear to be doing enough. Sigh.

Not all of the above have easy answers, and I am sure stakeholders are considering each of these very seriously.

(Post your comments below or email mixedmedia@exchange4media.com. The views expressed here are personal.)

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