Television

MAYHEM IN AMERICA: A MADE FOR TV ATTACK

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Horrific. Ghastly. Dastardly. Inhuman. Unbelievable. Catastrophic. Deadly. Words that have been used to describe the airplane attacks on the World Trade Centre I and II - two icons of the New York landscape and US economic power - and the heart of American defence - the Pentagon.

The world has watched the devastation that has reshaped the Manhattan skyline, and has gasped in horror at the carnage, the uncounted loss of human life. All because of the power of satellite television. Professional cameramen and TV journalists have tailed the rapid developments. Even laymen have contributed their mite through their amateur efforts at filming the sequence of events using handycams.

Obviously, whoever is behind the attacks was seeking maximum impact. Hundred per cent attention globally to the shaming of America and its high falutin anti-terrorism security measures. The world has watched as the centre of capitalism has been brought to its knees, bloodied in ways that will take a long time to heal.

The idea was also to cause paralysis, panic, fear globally. And also elicit a response. Possibly an irrational response.

Images of balls of flame exploding off long-lasting structures as planes slammed into them. Images of those pillars of strength crashing down as if they were made of wet sand were flashed around the world courtesy television.

Television acted as a uniting force as we all grieved over the heinous acts. In some corner of the globe, a group of people would in all possibility be grinning in delight at the Maximum Impact they generated. We may never get to see those images.

But we may well get to see pictures of them much later when they have been blasted off the face of the earth; disintegrated into smithereens, should the world choose to fight back against the perpetrators of the act. Which a rather weak looking President George W Bush Jr has said will happen.

Television channels have all reacted differently while providing coverage of America under attack. Networks such as CNN, CNBC, chose to continue to follow the developments without inserting advertising. The entire affair was of a magnitude beyond commercial considerations. There was a time when CNN would place commercials on its channel, and charge what it wanted, according to industry sources. That has changed over the past couple of years.

Indian news channels Zee, Star and Aaj Tak too kept abreast of developments. But they chose this morning to sprinkle their coverage with TV commercials. Mammon it seemed had the upper hand even in the time of tragedy. After all, it's not every day that you get audiences rivetted to news channels continuously.

The next few days are going to see news channels continuing to capture viewers' eyeballs. Hopefully, the commercials will not detract from the mood of the moment. And ad sales teams at the channels will maintain some decorum and decency.

It is a moment for all of us to pause. And for the powers-that-be in India to wake up to possible attacks sometime in future. 1992 happened. It should not be allowed to happen again.

ANIL WANVARI,

CEO, INDIANTELEVISION.COM

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