Yeh IPH hai boss!

24 May,2013

 

IPL 6 FAQs IPL: Credibility vs. Viewership
As Indian television’s biggest annual reality show draws to a close, there are five pressing questions left unanswered. Let me try to deal with them

 

By Anil Thakraney

 

Okay, so as Indian television’s biggest annual reality show draws to a close, there are five pressing questions left unanswered. Let me try to deal with them.

 

Does the IPL have a future following the fixing scandal? Will it shut down?

There’s no way this tamasha is going to close shop, even if more skeletons tumble out of the stinking cupboard. Frankenstein BCCI has created a huge monster, and there’s no taming it now. The masses adore this monster because the IPL is fulltoo entertainment for the full family. It’s less about cricket and more about all the natak that goes around it. The TV ratings for this year have been good, and the stadia packed to the gills once again (the Delhi cricket ground was full house for the two play-offs despite the home team having been knocked out). And, Sreesanth & Co’s antics had zero effect on popularity. The IPL is here to stay. Period.

 

Will we see a clean IPL season next year?

Nope. T20 cricket is a fertile hunting ground for spot fixing, all it takes the bookies and their agents is a few dishonest players to co-operate. And this is particularly easy with the IPL because it’s teeming with players who have either been kicked out of the Indian team or aren’t talented enough to find a place in it. Also, India is a vastly corrupt nation, so to expect all our cricketers to be blessed with squeaky clean genes is being downright stupid. Some boys will sell their souls again, but I suspect they’ll behave more smartly than the three idiots: Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan. Fixing will continue, the procedures will get refined.

 

Can’t the tournament host, the BCCI, clamp down on fixing?

Well, according to media reports, the BCCI boss’s darling ghar jamai is allegedly involved in the betting racket, haha. So to expect that organization to follow Gandhian principles is like expecting Phaneesh Murthy to practice celibacy for the rest of his life. It ain’t gonna happen. Therefore what I predict is hyperactive policing next year (match fixing seems to bother our cops more than rapes) and various sting operations by the maha excited media. And yet, the show will go on.

 

Aren’t sponsors and advertisers furious over the various IPL scandals? Should they not put pressure by threatening to pull out next year?

Well, ideally they should, but they won’t. That’s because the corporate suits aren’t out to make India a better place, that’s not in their mission statement. The advertisers are only and only interested in one thing: Eyeballs. As long as the IPL continues to draw in the audiences (which it will), the money will keep getting pumped in. In fact, secretly, some of the sponsors must be elated with all the scandals, they help keep the tournament buzzing on the news channels. That’s a much bigger bang for their buck.

 

Will Rajya Sabha MP Shri Sachin Tendulkar announce his retirement this Sunday?

No. He’ll be playing IPL 30 too. Am willing to, er, bet on it. 🙂

 

Anil Thakraney is a senior journalist and commentator based in Mumbai. He is also Editor-at-Large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own. He can reached at his Twitter handle @anilthakraney

 

This column can also be accessed standalone at Anil Thakraney: IPL 6 FAQs

 

IPL is cricket-based primetime entertainment controversies are like tabloid gossip which people consume for voyeuristic pleasure and purely as entertainment, writes Shailesh Kapoor
By Shailesh Kapoor

 

The last week has been an infamous one for the Indian Premier League (IPL), and from what it seems, we have certainly not seen the end of the controversy the league finds itself in. Newspapers and news channels have prominently covered what obviously qualifies as news of great “national interest”.

 

There is a strong sense of deja vu here. In 2010, Lalit Modi was ousted from his position as the IPL Commissioner in the week leading upto the finals. I remember how several “experts”, including cricketers themselves, were busy debating the issue on various news channels, even as Chennai Super Kings were playing Mumbai Indians in the all-important match. Wonder which viewers was a news show such as this targeting!

 

Any issue with legal ramifications needs to be handled by the investigative and legal machinery available for the same. But the part that interests me here is how the media has handled this situation.

 

The most interesting, even amusing, side of the media’s take on the spot-fixing controversy is an axiom most journalists seem to be operating out of, that “If IPL loses its credibility, it will lose its viewership.” However axiomatic this may sound, it is simply not true. And if you miss this point, you are missing the larger IPL story altogether.

 

IPL is cricket-based primetime entertainment. I find this description of the tournament not only appropriate, but also encouraging. It feeds right back into the material instincts of the young, ambitious India that we all talk about. As Veeru from Sholay famously said: “Iss story mein emotional hai, drama hai, tragedy hai.” It is as real as any reality show can get, complete with its twists like spot-fixing.

 

Does the viewer care about these controversies? Of course he does. It is fodder for office and college canteen talk, after all. But does the viewer have a strong position on it? Not necessarily. For many, these controversies are like tabloid gossip, which you consume for voyeuristic pleasure, purely as entertainment. To say that the average Indian cricket viewer is deeply troubled by this is a mile away from the truth. The average Indian cricket viewer is an “average Indian” first. He has enough else to care and worry about.

 

Hence, the linkage between controversy, credibility and viewership begins to break. But from the high horse that many in the media seem to be on, it seems like the most obvious thing ever known to mankind.

 

I can understand former cricketers and passionate old-time sports journalists getting worked up about the “entertainment” positioning of a cricket tournament. But why do other journalists and guests take a “cricket is a gentleman’s game” stance is not very clear to me. IPL is now in its sixth year. It has never pretended to be championing the gentleman’s-game positioning of the game. It has been unequivocal about its motives.

 

There have been a few senior cricket journalists who have taken an exception of the idea of the league from way back in 2008. That’s a viewpoint and understandable. But what does not add up is the news channels approach of giving extensive coverage to the league through half-hour daily shows (with repeats), and then taking a moral view on cricket when a controversy erupts.

 

When a normal political scam runs into 11 digits of monetary valuation, an IPL controversy involving a few million should actually be inside-page news. But let’s face it. Even the newspapers and news channels know that it is “popular”. In a way then, by giving it disproportionate coverage, they are endorsing the power of the IPL, even using it to their advantage. Talk about irony!

 

Meanwhile, the viewer is getting all set to watch a final on Sunday.

 

Shailesh Kapoor is founder and CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor

This column can also be accessed standalone at Shailesh Kapoor: IPL: Credibility vs. Viewership

 

 

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