[MJR] A button to mute screeching panelists, please

03 May,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


I make this plea on behalf of the ear drums of the nation. As the broadcasters’ association is worried about offensive content and the government is worried about sex, no one has the time to discuss our national loss of hearing. Even noise pollution activists, so worried about every tiny Diwali cracker, are silent on this one.


Yet every night, guests on TV panel discussions yell at each other, sometimes all at the same time. This is not just confusing, but it is also painful. (And, it must be admitted, a bit embarrassing.)


The answer I don’t think can be in teaching better manners to the panellists. We can’t now go back to their mummy-daddy and TV channels caught up in the non-stop cycle of breaking news barely have time activate their brains let alone start teaching etiquette.


Instead, we need technology to come to our rescue. Instead of pleading with their guests to allow everyone to speak and not hog all the allotted time or politely trying to control a posse of middle-aged delinquents, TV anchors should just cut trouble-makers off. The worst offenders will be silenced mid-scream. To amuse viewers, their faces should still be on screen, so we can see them though not hear them screeching away. There is no guarantee that the screamers and yellers will ever learn and those who plead “give me 30 seconds more please” – how do they claim 30 seconds when they take many minutes? – will most likely start yelling “don’t cut me off”. But that doesn’t mean anyone has to listen to them. Anyway, you can barely hear what they’re saying.


Also, our TV remotes could come with selective mute buttons so that we can filter out the sound from some sources while continuing to listen to others. This feature can be sold as a fun family game, as an alternative to birds killing pigs.


And what about when the TV anchors annoy you? Now, that, dear viewer, is what the existing mute button is all about!


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