10 evils media can do without

14 Oct,2013


By Pradyuman Maheshwari


Vijayadashmi or Dassera is said to mark the celebration of good over evil. While many celebrated Dassera yesterday, for Bengalis in particular it’s ‘Shubho Bijoya’ today.


I had written a similar feature two years back on MxMIndia and as I compared the list that I made for 2013 vis-à-vis the one in 2011, I was saddened to note that most of the evils are the same. In fact things have only gotten worse. Except one, which was on the issue of ratings where measures are being taken to cleanse the systems as per the expectations of the stakeholders. While work on the all-new IRS for print readership is still on and BARC has not yet finalized the vendor for television measurement, the fact is that all stakeholders are united in their efforts now to produce a robust system (as they ought to have been earlier), hence one has done away with the problems of ratings as a malaise.


So which are the Top 10 evils that deserve to be banished from Indian medialand? Read on…


01.  Corruption

It’s public knowledge. There’s more corruption in private enterprises than there is in government and public sector undertakings.


Bribes and various other commercial considerations are commonplace in television channels, advertising agencies, newspapers and magazines. And then there are awards and placement of reports. Not all of it is in lieu of monies though. Some could even be for just ol’ times sake.


02.  Paid Content

There are three types of paid content which rule Indian news media. The first is the one where political parties and politicians pay publications and channels for favourable content on them or negative content on their rivals or both. The second is for business and lifestyle content where you pay for content that appears. And the third is when publications only carrying reports on those who advertise and not on the basis of merit.


The incidence of each of them has grown, and since the last time I wrote this, more publications are now publishing lifestyle content in lieu of dosh.


03.  Government interference

A senior Doordarshan functionary this correspondent spoke to said he/she was disgusted with the I&B ministry for its interference in the Doordarshan’s affairs. Especially in the case of news. If the government wants DD to improve and prosper it mustn’t get into the day-to-day functioning of the channels.


Also, there’s no reason why the government should get involved with the functioning of various stakeholders. With regulators in place and players adopting self-regulation


04.  Ass-ociations

Save a few, some of the key industry associations have failed the industry. There is groupism in many of them, and they don’t seem to working enough for the common good of the fraternity and the business. While there is a Goafest and a few other association-led and individual compay-owned events, the two biggest events of the trade – Frames and Big Picture – are organized by FICCI and CII respectively. Meanwhile, some of the associations could do with better equipped secretariats.


05.  Shabby Abby

Abby 2013 were indeed Shabby, and although attempts were made to clean up the system, it’s going to require quite an effort from recently appointed president, Pratap Bose, to ensure there is enough participation from all agencies and the rules are watertight on fake/proactive work and plagiarism. The Abby Awards needed to be reinvented, else they will lose relevance.


06.  Abuse of intellectual property

Many of us in the Indian media are responsible for picking up material (ideas, text, pictures, audio, video, graphics) without permission and attribution. There is no respect for intellectual property in India and it’s a matter of time when the laws and penalties on intellectual property theft get stiffer.


07.  Talent

Talent continues to be a big problem in the media. As organizations go on to value-add their offerings and attract a premium for their services, they must remember they cannot achieve it without quality manpower. And this talent doesn’t come cheap which will mean an impact on the bottomline.


08.  Job security

The current slowdown has had a huge impact on some organizations with retrenchment in many sectors. In some organizations, even if there was no direct sacking, there were no replacements found for those who left. Media organizations must remember that they shouldn’t lose the human touch while effecting these. And also the next time when the going is good, perhaps they should not hire indiscriminately.


09.  FDI Blues

The government continues with its bizarre rules on FDI, and it’s possibly being egged on by organizations whose interests could be harmed if foreign powers come in. While the government is indeed mulling an increase of foreign direct investment in news media and FM radio to 49 percent, one wonders why not make it 100% when such restrictions aren’t imposed on equally critical sectors like telecom.


10.  No ethics!

This is a huge peeve. Yes, that there are still various ways to fool a system, but the only way in which way there can be some order in media organizations is when there is no tolerance rule on ethics. Get everyone – employees and promoters – to agree to adhere to them. And expose those who break the rules.


The views expressed by Pradyuman Maheshwari, Editor-in-Chief and CEO, MxMIndia in Mediaah! are his own and not necessarily those of MxMIndia Private Limited. Email him at pradyumanm (at) mxmindia.com


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