Ranjona Banerji: Future bleak for TV?

05 Feb,2019

By Ranjona Banerji

The new TRAI guidelines on choosing the television channels you want to subscribe to have effectively ended my dependence on satellite broadcast television. First off, I could not understand anything. Secondly, I went to the subscriber website to choose what I wanted, painstakingly one by one and discovered that what I had picked would double my annual bill. So, I went back to “pack” suggested for me by the provider and just stuck to that.

I have also ended my add-on subscription for a second TV and now use that only for streaming. No one in my household has watched any satellite broadcast television since the Australian Open last month, except for one morning two days ago to check on the drama in Bengal over the CBI, Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi’s government.

My 81-year-old father, who was addicted to TV news and Nidhi Razdan’s Left Right and Centre, now gets all his news from his phone and from various Facebook subscriptions to news television. He is, one might say, now an addict of the algorithm. He is also a big fan of Netflix and Amazon Prime and that is his evening’s entertainment.

Between newspapers, news sites, social media, online streaming and TRAI’s new ideas, the future of television as a fixed broadcast source, seems on rickety legs: even if I am stating the obvious. I gather from social conversations, that most people are befuddled by this new diktat on choosing one’s TV package all over again. Interesting to see how it pans out. Like the shift from paper to the internet for newspapers, the same appears to be the way ahead for TV.

Intriguingly, Firstpost.com has now come up with a physical paper, who knows why. But then I have also started writing for a newly-launched Indore-based newspaper called First Print, which has no online edition yet. Things are still topsy-turvy then for some, although the writing on the wall looks very clear to me.

A side note: news channels like the BBC World Service need to up their internet game when it comes to live streaming on devices like Amazon Firestick. Tried to watch one of the House of Commons debates on Brexit recently but could only find interesting but eventually tedious little clips on what farmers in Wales and cafés in Manchester think of Brexit. Some upping of the game required here perhaps?

 

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The stand-off between Bengal and the Centre is in the Supreme Court as I write this but the whole event has forced the media to report – more or less – on events and statements as they break. A constitutional crisis is upon us, one way or another.

Luckily, the Union budget is still being analysed and found wanting by several news outlets. The fine print is now under scrutiny and as ever, does not match the broad statement or the large promises. The problem with the unemployment data continues. Somesh Jha and Business Standard have continued with their breakdown of the data from the NSSO survey on unemployment. Former members of the NSC who resigned because data was being withheld have been interviewed. The international media has also commented.

This is from the first edit of the Times of India edition dated February 4: “…it is always better to face up to existing problems rather than brush them under the carpet, which only makes them grow. The government must stop this dangerous slide in credibility now, before it’s too late.”

Anyone listening do you think?

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. The views here are personal

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