A new news item has been figured out by our news starved news channels – the TRP manipulation.
It all started with Mumbai police alleging the tampering of the TRP reading methodology which opened Pandora’s box. News channel after news channel started discussing the gaming of this system and how it has been in the domain knowledge for the longest time. The advertising firms know it, the client knows it and the authority knows it, and yet they follow the system. Experts have suddenly come out who have started explaining us how the system works or how is it manipulated.
Here we would not go into how the system is banged up. We have had enough of that in the last one day. What should bother us more is how come something as trivial as a TRP of a channel plays a role in the crime investigation, in which, (at least for sometime till the IPL circus came along), the entire nation was acting as Byomkesh Bakshi, investigating the death of the actor who played Byomkesh Bakshi, and was being led in chorus by a news channel anchor !
As confounding as it may sound, but that’s what we have reduced our sensibilities to. Forgetting ways to analyse the government’s response to a pandemic, forgetting the economic challenges facing the country, forgetting the unemployment crisis facing the youth, we were/are on a pied piper led trail of story telling.
Story telling is an art where the artist gauges the mood of his audience and provides the necessary twist and turns to the tale. He can elaborate a point where the interest of the listener lies and can shorten or skip the parts which are dry and dreary, irrespective of the their importance. The artist tells the story according to the interest of the audience.
Today, our news channels are the story tellers. Only that will explain the sheer frenzy of the news reporters shrieking at the top of their voice, telling us something as mundane as “Kangana Ranaut has just got out of her house and stepped into her car to drive off”.
Every step, every byte, every thought has to be converted into an eyeball event.
But why to blame the channels or the anchors. It can be safely assumed that on a personal level, all the anchors are well behaved, sensible ladies and gentlemen. It is the persona which they want to sell us on the media that is so alienated to the sensibilities of a normal human being. They behave like this because that’s what we want to see ! This is the Americanisation of presentation from the dry, tight upper lip sophistication of the British method. We have evolved it to the level of Arnabisation. Credit to the man, he has singularly shaped the narrative content of the news channels. He made abrasive behaviour an art which found an audience in us. Channel after channel had to find anchors who could match him. All this for eyeballs.
It is this eyeball which is captured as TRP by the given agency and then sold to the clients for the advertising. Without this advertising, the industry will find difficult to survive. It is the nature of the economics of the news covering world and the 24 hour news channels. All want to thrive and be at the forefront, hence they have to shout out loud.
In the recent news scenario, the Mumbai police was singled out for its alleged not-so-professional approach by the media houses. It became a public trial. Wanting to settle the matter, the police in turn have turned the tables by talking about the TRP game.
For the news channels, keeping political affiliations and the economics of running a business in perspective, they will keep numbing our sensibilities. It is we, the people at large, who have to evolve, question and change the system.
For the police, blaming the media is not going to take away the callous nature of investigation. A person died and there are threads pointing in certain directions. It is the duty of the police to make sure the case comes to its truthful closure. Bringing the specific media house on its knees can be kept for another day.