NEW DELHI: Recently, Indiantelevision.com came out with a story on the aftermath of the untimely demise of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the media circus that followed sharing crucial details of his reported suicide. While many attributed it to the constant race to gain TRPs, some indicated that Indian audience thrives on the unnecessary frivolous drama that channels propagate.
Addressing the same concerns in a virtual fireside chat with Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO and editor in chief Anil Wanvari, ABP Network (earlier ABP News Network) CEO Avinash Pandey stated that another issue forcing Indian news channels to indulge in dramatic reportage is the outdated measurement system deciding the ratings.
“The rating system measures entertainment very perfectly; it may not be measuring news very perfectly. The content sensibilities for different levels of society in India are very different. The NCCS model today is so generalised that there is hardly any scope for good content to thrive. The NCCS A group today, even our drivers could easily qualify for that,” Pandey explained.
“And this is not just for news, in fact. If you look at the overall TV industry, so many unique content channels get zero ratings and eventually closed. It’s not that they don’t have any viewers but the rating (system) today doesn’t reflect their true constituency.”
He added that it is difficult to digest that so many people are searching for and watching content like that on pull mediums but reject that on push mediums.
Pandey agreed that television news industry is heavily dependent on advertisers today and based on ratings, it is evident that ‘song, dance, drama’ works. “Telling story in a dramatised way, literally on the boundary of being frivolous gets you the ratings. That’s the sad part that makes you think that what is the future of doing good journalism on TV in our country?”
Pandey shared that ABP Network, however, is trying its best to steer away from it. “We have stopped regular debates on our channels. When you are keeping a scheduled time for debate, you are forced to pick up a topic, which then leads to agenda pushing. We do not take ads from any fortune-teller or baba or put their content on our channels,” he elaborated.
He insisted that it is trying to adhere to highest quality standards when it comes to reporting and also denied that the channel was insensitive in covering Rajput’s story.
On being prodded about the treatment of Tabhligi Jamat on his channel during the onset of Covid2019 pandemic, Pandey shared that it was a heated time of ‘unprecedented uncertainty’ that led the reporters and anchors to deal with the subject in a different manner, picking up on the reasons that were leading to the spread of the diseases.
He added that the channel is constantly evolving its reportage based on the developments happening in the industry and around the world.
Watch the full discussion here: