Freaking News: It’s a dull year for TV

20 Feb,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


The wonder that is TV news inIndiabecomes a total damp squib if there is nothing exciting happening. And this year has been particularly lacking news-wise. Or that is, news that suits TV land. Especially after the excitement of last year – not the least created by the anti-corruption movement – 2012 seems dull. The UP elections have not provided enough fodder and the best we have managed is the hullabaloo over Salman Rushdie and the Jaipur Literary Fest. The Supreme Court came down firmly on the age crisis faced by the army chief and that is now the end of that potential drama.


It’s another matter that we have had sufficient news to keep us occupied. But when you run on a permanent cycle of “breaking news” which can be turned into hysterical studio debates, ordinary news does not suffice. Right now, the crisis within Kingfisher Airlines has the most potential.


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Now that so many states have objected to the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, because it hurts our “federal structure”, it is perhaps time for newspapers to find commentators who can explain our “federal structure” in Constitutional terms. Are we really federal? Or is this just one more political ploy? In terms of law and order, the odd thing is that whenever something goes wrong in any state, people within and without the state clamour for a “CBI” probe. This, in spite of the fact that the CBI goes against our “federal structure” and at other times, is seen as a handmaiden of the ruling party at the Centre. It’s an odd but fascinating dichotomy of thought.


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Yesterday’s newspapers told us that Anna Hazare is fit and raring to go. Today’s newspapers tell us that he and his team are due to meet. It would be interesting to see if television is still as accommodating to Hazare and his merry followers or whether they have fallen out of the news cycle. Newspapers, it must be admitted, have dismissed Hazare news to little single columns.


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Having declared their “Aman Ki Asha” campaign for peace with Pakistan, the Times of India now looks east and introduces a “Bonding with Bangladesh” exercise. Since many Indians are even unaware that Bengal was partitioned (the general feeling appears to be that the only people affected were in north India), it will be interesting to see what kind of response they get. For now, it is sharing stories with the Bangladeshi paper Pratham Alo, to “deepen people-to-people” ties.


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