Television

Who controls the remote?

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A TV remote control is the most sort-after item in a household. From parents to kids, everyone wants to get their hands on the small black device controlling the idiot box in the living room.

The battle has been going on for decades now. The broadcasters, a very few of them in the beginning, understood it very early wherein they smartly segregated their programmes into time slots pertaining to a particular gender.

Afternoons were meant for housewives who after finishing their work had their daily dose of soaps to entertain them before the children came back from schools and tune into shows catering to their tastes. It was in the evening that men got hold of the television set to catch-up on the day’s news.

The pattern has been passed down the history even though the number of channels available to entertain a household has multiplied. Everybody is spoilt of choice, be it the women or men of the house or children.

Everyone has numerous channels to surf before they pick their favourite.

As per a new research published by Croma, the electronics megastore from Infiniti Retail, India’s women ‘own’ the household TV throughout the day; however by the time the clock chimes 9 pm it’s the men who take over.

The findings highlighted in Croma’s ‘Household Habits’ survey reveal that 9 pm as a form of ‘Remote Relay’ hour is when control of the ubiquitous and all-important remote finally passes from female to male jurisdiction. According to the findings nearly 40 per cent of men claim that their female partners dominate the remote control all afternoon (from midday to 9 pm); while over half of all respondents collectively claim that it’s their respective mothers who rule the remote during the same period. Over half of the female respondents actually admit to ‘fighting for control’ of the precious device.

Before the recently concluded FIFA World Cup even started, the jokes doing the rounds were of men telling their wives to keep away from the remote control at night. Every now and then, the battle intensifies especially during sporting events or some major political development. However, this doesn’t mean that women aren’t interested in sports or politics but in general it’s the soaps that catch their fancy.

However, with the increase in disposable income and technology wherein multi-device and cross-screen usage has become common in certain sections of our society, the survey demonstrates the importance, protocols and household politics relating to control of the household TV set. And, according to the findings, the females of the household exercise a near monopoly on the remote; at least during daylight hours.

The 9 pm slot symbolises a form of ‘changing of the guard’ when the females of the household cede control of the TV to their male counterparts.  This form of ‘remote control diplomacy’ confirms the central role and meaning the TV set continues to exert in the Indian household.

While women clearly rule the noon and evening slot of the remote relay, men take over from 9 pm, with over a quarter of all respondents citing fathers overtaking mothers for control of the remote during this period. The time slot (primetime as per most channels) has seen a significant increase in male partner dominance in terms of control over the TV remote.

But, if men rule the 9pm slot, one is forced to think about the primetime slot which broadcasters, especially general entertainment channels (GECs), invest in?

As per various media analysts who study the medium and plan and buy for it every day, the study might be true, but the ‘change of guard’ doesn’t happen sharp at 9!

They insist that times are changing and men too are interested in watching what their partners watch every night. It is a transition period wherein almost for one to two hours, both men and women, sit and watch two channels overlapping the couple’s or of family’s interest.

It is family time where everyone watches together. And as kids and others move away from the TV sets as night progresses, men are left as the sole controller of the remote, free to watch whatever interests them.

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