Television And Reality Shows Over Children In Manipal Media Essay

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1st Jan 1970 Media Reference this

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The head of Federal Communication Commission which regulates television in the United States one famously said “Television is a ……. toasters with pictures and we are normally concerned with the working of our toasters or the exact origins of our water when, for example, we run a bath. According to Josetein Gripsrud, The word Television literally means “distant sight”.But as we all know, when watching television we are actually just seeing something a few feet away an image on the glass front of the box we call a T.V set. Television in other words a metaphor intented to describe what this box, this experience, this form of communication, is all about.

  According to Singh, Chandrakanth P., in his book the dictionary of Television and Radio says that the medium of communication that operates through the transmission of images and sound over a wire or through space by means of an electronic system that converts light and sound into electrical waves and then reconverts them into visible images and audible sounds. As an advertising medium, television is the youngest and has grown faster than any other in the history. No other medium has the unique creative capabilities of Television. The combination of sight, sound and movement, the opportunities for demonstration and the believability of seeing something happen right before one’s eyes the potential for special effects, all these have contributed to television successful impact. According to R. Terry Ellemore, the author of NTC’s Mass Media Dictionary, he says litteraly, to see at a distance. A system of telecommunication used for the transmission of images of fixed or moving objects for the transmission of transient images fixed or moving images.

Since birth it is involuntary for any infant to communicate and look at the world

around with new eyes. For a mother even the cry of a baby sounds soothing.

Communication is an inbuilt art which we all carry ourselves from the time of birth.

There are different ways of communicating. We express ourselves mostly by body

language, our voice and words. They are broadly classified into nonverbal

communication, verbal communication and visual communication. Non verbal is

something which is prevalent throughout. Verbal is learnt by the person and what

language he or she learns is totally dependent on the place and surrounding they

come from. Visual is a recent development and came into existence with

technological advancement.

The form of communication has gotten modified from time to time. From the

invention of the tape recorder, (when people used to think that if anyone recorded

their voice, then, they would loose their voice completely), to the present day gadgets

like the cell phone which has all facilities from radio to recording sound and visuals as

well. Audio or music is one such media which has the capability to create a virtual

reality in one’s mind.

What is reality?

What is fake and what is real? This has been the question since the time man has

come into existence. With time many of these questions have been solved and

answered either by scholars or by the scientific approaches. Many of these have led to

conflicts of the original question whether they are god’s miracles or simple logical

solutions. For example rain has always been a great mystery for the ancient people.

They used to worship the rain god. They used to make many sacrifices just to please

the rain gods. But gradually science has given it a different and more logical meaning

to it. It is not magic but the cycle of water from the oceans to the land and to the sea.

But at the same time science is an instrument which has created a world of its own.

The scientific advancement has got us so far, that even though, it has cleared many

doubts and has been showing us the right way, for example before it was thought that

earth was the center of the universe and earth is flat, but these misconceptions have

been cleared. At the same time in the process of sharing news, showing events live,

connecting people of different parts of the world together through one medium has

led to the generation of an entirely new virtual world. This virtual world which has

taken over all the primitive means of communication by shock wave. The technical

advancements have been taking place since hundreds of years. The most recent and

still prevailing one is the television. It seems wired that we are seeing the visuals that

are happening thousands and thousands of kilometers away but at the same time we

believe them because is has the substance, just like god, we have faith and belief in

this new media as well. Reality is the totality of all things. It is the structures which we

see in actual and conceptualise, events that have happened in past and present. It is

based on what an individual has seen by himself/herself or shared the same human

experience, which ultimately attempts to describe the situation and conclude as real.

Television a Medium

Entertainment has always been a prime focus of the media to target the audience.

From the time of the early eighteen hundred, where people who could afford to go

to expensive pubs and clubs to enjoy the performance, be it music or dance

performance. It was impossible for a common man to go for such luxuries. It was

even not possible to listen to the famous musician’s compositions again and again,

everything used to happen live. It was only in the 30s and late 40s the scientists

started experimenting to have a virtual vision in front of our eyes or even send long

distance messages electronically. Initially the television sets were mechanical. Paul

Nipkow was the first person to discover television’s scanning principle, in which the

light intensities of small portions of an image are successively analyzed and

transmitted. The next improvement took place when a completely electronic based

screen was invented. It was known as the Cathode Ray Tube, also known as the

Picture Tube. This enabled the transmission of current and the pictures would appear

on the screen. This technique is still being used in the television sets but not in the

newly developed LCD screens. Just having the screen was not enough, coordinating

with the sound and the visuals was necessary. This need was given a new solution by

Louis W Parker and by the starting of 1920s colour television was in the markets in

the reach of the public. Even though it could only be afforded by the rich as the

technology developed and the cost reduced, due to simplification of the components

used in the making of a television.

Television has the capability to attract the attention of its viewers.1 Even radio is not

as efficient in keeping a person’s attention for more than a minute. Both the visuals

and the sound have a sort of a magical effect on the audience and it feels as if what is

being shown is real. This invention has created a huge market, a whole new field of

work, job opportunities and of course a medium of entertainment to the people.

Television became more popular in the western countries first. They also became

available for everyone to own a set for themselves. This technology to come to other

countries took it s own space and time. Due to cultural differences much

advancement took time to penetrate into every country. And in India it has a

somewhat a similar story to share. Post independence, in September 1959 first

television was introduced in the country. It was felt that, India needs upliftment with

respect to the development that has to be brought about. Initially the broadcast used

to be only for 2 hours in the metros and in villages where community viewing was

encouraged. A television set would be assigned for a couple of villages and people

would come to watch at the time of broadcast. This was the scenario when there

were only a couple of channels that too under government control, they were

Doordarshan and DD 2. By 1991 the main goal of the channel, ie, to give social

messages n bring development, vanished and it became a commercial channel with

advertisements. And by this time the first western party (private) venture to enter the

market was Star TV and then the first Hindi based private channel was Zee TV. And

by the end of 1994 there were more than 30 channels available through the

dish/cable network in India available to the common man. With the increase in the

television channels an increase in the ownership of television sets also increased

gradually.

The programmes aired initially on these channels were based on the movies. For

example the old programme on Doordarshan “Chitrahar” was modified into “Top 10”

on Zee TV. All the channels would follow the same but in a fancy and much

attractive way leaving Doordarshan way behind in the competition. With the arrival of

satellite television, Doordarshan lost its monopoly. And slowly the trend of the shows

changed over to the daily and weekly soaps. The most popular ones are: Fauji, Shanti,

Swabhiman, Mrignayani, Filmy Chakkar, Humraahi, Manoranjan, Karamchand, etc to Ekta

Kapoor’s “K” serials. Even though, the number of serials have not decreased but the

recent that is evident is the increase in the reality shows.

History of Television

Television in India has been in existence for nigh on four decades. For the first 17 years, it spread haltingly and transmission was mainly in black & white. The thinkers and policy makers of the country, which had just been liberated from centuries of colonial rule, frowned upon television, looking on at it as a luxury Indians could do without. In 1955 a Cabinet decision was taken disallowing any foreign investments in print media which has since been followed religiously for nearly 45 years. Sales of TV sets, as reflected by licenses issued to buyers were just 676,615 until 1977.

Television has come to the forefront only in the past 21 years and more so in the past 13. There were initially two ignition points: the first in the eighties when color TV was introduced by state-owned broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) timed with the 1982 Asian Games which India hosted. It then proceeded to install transmitters nationwide rapidly for terrestrial broadcasting. In this period no private enterprise was allowed to set up TV stations or to transmit TV signals.

The second spark came in the early nineties with the broadcast of satellite TV by foreign programmers like CNN followed by Star TV and a little later by domestic channels such as Zee TV and Sun TV into Indian homes. Prior to this, Indian viewers had to make do with DD’s chosen fare which was dull, non-commercial in nature, directed towards only education and socio-economic development. Entertainment programmes were few and far between. And when the solitary few soaps like Hum Log (1984), and mythological dramas: Ramayan (1987-88) and Mahabharat (1988-89) were televised, millions of viewers stayed glued to their sets.

When, urban Indians learnt that it was possible to watch the Gulf War on television, they rushed out and bought dishes for their homes. Others turned entrepreneurs and started offering the signal to their neighbours by flinging cable over treetops and verandahs. From the large metros satellite TV delivered via cable moved into smaller towns, spurring the purchase of TV sets and even the upgradation from black & white to colour TVs.

DD responded to this satellite TV invasion by launching an entertainment and commercially driven channel and introduced entertainment programming on its terrestrial network. This again fuelled the purchase of sets in the hinterlands where cable TV was not available.

The initial success of the channels had a snowball effect: more foreign programmers and Indian entrepreneurs flagged off their own versions. From two channels prior to 1991, Indian viewers were exposed to more than 50 channels by 1996. Software producers emerged to cater to the programming boom almost overnight. Some talent came from the film industry, some from advertising and some from journalism.

More and more people set up networks until there was a time in 1995-96 when an estimated 60,000 cable operators were existing in the country. Some of them had subscriber bases as low as 50 to as high as in the thousands. Most of the networks could relay just 6 to 14 channels as higher channel relaying capacity required heavy investments, which cable operators were loathes to make. American and European cable networks evinced interest, as well as large Indian business groups, who set up sophisticated head ends capable of delivering more than 30 channels. These multi-system operators (MSOs) started buying up local networks or franchising cable TV feeds to the smaller operators for a fee. This phenomenon led to resistance from smaller cable operators who joined forces and started functioning as MSOs. The net outcome was that the number of cable operators in the country has fallen to 30,000.

The rash of players who rushed to set up satellite channels discovered that advertising revenue was not large enough to support them. This led to a shakeout. At least half a dozen either folded up or aborted the high-flying plans they had drawn up, and started operating in a restricted manner. Some of them converted their channels into basic subscription services charging cable operators a carriage fee.

Foreign cable TV MSOs discovered that the cable TV market was too disorganized for them to operate in and at least three of them decided to postpone their plans and got out of the market. The government started taxing cable operators in a bid to generate revenue. The rates varied in the 26 states that go to form India and ranged from 35 per cent upwards. The authorities moved in to regulate the business and a Cable TV Act was passed in 1995. The apex court in the country, the Supreme Court, passed a judgement that the air waves are not the property of the Indian government and any Indian citizen wanting to use them should be allowed to do so. The government reacted by making efforts to get some.  

A committee headed by a senior Congress (I) politician Sharad Pawar and consisting of other politicians and industrialist was set up to review the contents of the Broadcasting Bill. It held discussions with industry, politicians, and consumers and a report was even drawn up. But the United Front government fell and since then the report and the Bill have been consigned to the dustbin. But before that it issued a ban on the sale of Ku-band dishes and on digital direct-to-home Ku-band broadcasting, which the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Television was threatening to start in India. ISkyB, the Murdoch DTH venture, has since been wallowing in quicksand and in recent times has even shed a lot of employees. But News Corp has been running a C-band DTH venture in the country which has around 20,000 subscribers regulation in place by setting up committees to suggest what the broadcasting law of India should be, as the sector was still being governed by laws which were passed in 19th century India. A broadcasting bill was drawn up in 1997 and introduced in parliament. But it was not passed into an Act. State-owned telecaster Doordarshan and radiocaster All India Radio were brought under a holding company called the Prasar Bharati under an act that had been gathering dust for seven years, the Prasar Bharati Act, 1990. The Act served to give autonomy to the broadcasters as their management was left to a supervisory board consisting of retired professionals and bureaucrats.  

In 1999, a BJP-led government has been threatening to once again allow DTH Ku-band broadcasting and it has been talking of dismantling the Prasar Bharati and once again reverting Doordarshan’s and All India Radio’s control back in the government’s hands. Some things change only to remain the same.

The year 2000 will be remembered for a single show that dominated the Indian television industry and went on to switch the fortunes of some media companies. Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Amitabh Bachchan hosted game show based on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, not only became the most-watched programme on private satellite television but also catapulted Star Plus into leadership position.On the back of the success of Star Plus, Rupert Murdoch built his media empire. If Subhash Chandra had tasted success all through these years since Zee launched, 2000 was a turning point in Zee’s history. Chandra’s dream of creating a media company that would march into the convergence era faced severe threat and the internal weakness of his organisation stood exposed.It was clearly Murdoch’s year. After divorcing his business from Zee, his Star Group acquired a 26 per cent stake in the Rajan Raheja-owned Hathway Cable & Datacom for an estimated $50-60 million. This marked a re-entry of Murdoch into cable after selling his 50 per cent stake in Chandra’s Siticable and gave him a presence in a cable network which had around one million subscribers.

Sony Entertainment Television, which was competing fiercely against Zee at the time, also floundered as it came under the attack from three Star Plus programmes – Bachchan’s show which gave away prize money of Rs 10 million, flanked by the Balaji Telefilms’ produced soaps Kyunki saas bhi kabhie bahu thi and Kahaani ghar ghar kii. The year saw the entry of Kerry Packer’s Channel Nine in a joint venture with HFCL. The HFCL-Channel Nine JV sealed a deal with Prasar Bharati, agreeing to pay a whopping Rs 1200-odd million for a three-hour prime time band on the floundering DD Metro channel. This revenue model was unsustainable, as would be proved later when Channel Nine withdrew from renewing the contract on the same commercial terms. DD Sports was also launched as a pay channel, trying to cash in on the India cricket rights which Prasar Bharati bagged in a successful bid for five years.

It was also the year that saw the birth of a Hindi news channel, Aaj Tak, from the India Today stable. This was to later fuel a news channel boom in the country. B4U, promoted by LN Mittal, Kishore Lulla and Binani, was also launched during the year.There was activity in the regional channel space. Down south, Sun Network continued to rule supreme. Zee made a foray into regional language broadcasting with the launch of four channels under the Alpha brand – in Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Bengali. Rathikant Basu, ending his stint as CEO in Star India, launched the Tara group of regional channels. ETV Network also made a foray into regional language broadcasting. Cable TV was getting high valuation on the back of ambitious convergence plans. Intel forked out $59.23 million to pick up 3.3 per cent stake in Hinduja-owned IndusInd Media & Communications. Chandra’s Siticable was valued by HSBC at $1.9 billion. MSOs announced upgradation plans, but the investments were more promised than made. The cable TV industry grew to over 30 million subscribers in the year, up from around 28 million a year ago. ( IndianTelevision.com)

Telecom operators like Reliance, Bharti, BPL and Spectranet also began to dream of the convergence play. Hopes on broadband emerged with players like NumTv.com, broadcastindia.com, sharkstream.com, homelandnetworks, and spectranet.com surfacing. On the policy front, Ku-band DTH broadcasting was permitted after a three year ban. Guidelines were issued but a detailed note on how DTH will roll out mysteriously did not see the light of day. Uplinking and ownership of earth stations by private broadcasters from Indian soil were opened up. No final word was heard on the broadcasting bill however. The idea of a convergence bill was mooted, but it was caught up in a tussle between the IT, telecom and I&B ministries as to who would play the steering role for convergence. The door was open for private players to own and operate communication satellite systems. The local INSAT system was offered for commercial use by private agencies. Sun TV and Eenadu TV were the first players to get permission to enter the fray. They set up their own earth stations and were granted uplinking facilities. Meanwhile, Chandra’s ambitious Agrani satellite project ran into export licence issues under US munitions restrictions imposed after India’s nuclear explosions.

The year 2001 was marred by a series of controversies, starting with diamond merchant and noted film financier Bharat Shah’s arrest and Ketan Parekh’s expose which led to the collapse of the stock market and the media stocks. B4U’s initial public offering (IPO) plans went for a toss as Shah was to play a prime role in the company. Then came the accusation against the prevailing ratings system – the currency advertising industry used to measure the popularity of television programmes – being rigged, an effort by some organisations that ultimately fizzled out as they could not back it with adequate proof. And just as this mudslinging effort continued, the news came that a unified rating system would emerge after Dutch Communications giant VNU NV had acquired AC Nielsen. This meant VNU would own TAM and INTAM, the two companies that were monitoring TV viewership in India.

It was also a dark year with three events spelling disaster: the earthquake in Gujarat, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the US-led offensive on Afghanistan. But this was fodder for the news channels and Aaj Tak gained audiences to become the leading news channel in the country. Kerry Packer’s dream to expand his base in India ended rather unfortunately as Doordarshan did not bend to sweeten the commercial terms with HFCL-Channel Nine. By no stretch of imagination would DD Metro find somebody to bet Rs 1.2 billion a year for a three-hour prime time possession on the channel. Packer had done it as an entry strategy, but hoping that he would repeat it for another year was a little too much to expect. And with the exit of Packer also ended Balaji Telefilms’ hopes of roping in Channel Nine as a minor equity partner in the company.

Zee continued to fall and its much-hyped re launch with 24 shows initiated by newly inducted chief executive Sandeep Goyal flopped miserably. Star retained its premium leadership position, climbing up the charts. Sony failed to stem Star’s onslaught and its Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke, a game show hosted by actor Govinda, managed to create initial hype but fizzled out fast.Chandra’s attempt at getting Turner International to invest as an equity partner in Zee may have failed, but he managed to get a joint venture agreement for distribution. While Zee Telefilms would hold 76 per cent stake in the distribution company, the balance 26 per cent would be with Turner. Such distribution alliances to strengthen bouquet offerings to cable operators would prove to be the trend in future. The government continued to be hazy on outlining a broadcast policy that would free foreign media companies from the clutches of regulation and be attractive for investments. But the government finally tabled the Convergence Bill which envisaged a super convergence commission with control of broadcasting as its major plank.

Making conditional access system (CAS) mandatory for viewing of pay channels was the most important piece of legislation to be passed by Indian Parliament in 2002, though it came after several hurdles. On 7 May 2002, the Cabinet passed a bill in the Lok Sabha (lower house) seeking to amend The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995. Cable TV operators would have to transmit or retransmit programmes of any pay channel through an addressable system. For the free-to-air channels that were to form part of the basic tier, the government would decide the minimum number of channels and the maximum rate that cable operators were to charge viewers.

And on 15 May, the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2002 was passed through voice vote by the Lok Sabha after a marathon debate that lasted three hours. However, hectic lobbying by a section of politicians and broadcasters delayed the passage of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha (upper house). Finally on 10 December, it won overwhelming support in the Rajya Sabha. The credit to bring legislation in for CAS must go to then information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj. Multi system operators welcomed CAS which they believed would change their fortunes as they were squeezed in between broadcasters asking for more payout and last mile operators who were under-reporting their actual subscribers. Independent cable operators also saw this as an opportunity. The complexity of implementing CAS would only surface in 2003 as it would require massive investments and seeding of CAS boxes. In 2002, it was seen by the MSOs and independent cable operators as a victory for them.

Sony Entertainment Television India also had reason to celebrate as it bagged the exclusive cable and satellite TV rights for live telecast of ICC cricket tournaments to be held from 2002 to 2007 covering the Indian subcontinent. The cost: a whopping $ 208 million in the biggest ever licensing deal in Indian broadcast history. Sports broadcasting saw a new entrant with the launch of Ten Sports in April. The channel was immediately in the limelight as it had bagged the exclusive terrestrial and C&S telecast rights to the FIFA soccer World Cup for a piffling $3 million. Sports properties would thus get fragmented, a situation that ESPN Star Sports had wanted to avoid when they set up the joint venture.

The big news of the year was the split between Star and NDTV. While Murdoch wanted complete control, Prannoy Roy did not want to let go of editorial independence. Star would take full control of Star News from 31 March 2003 after the five-year exclusive supply contract ended while NDTV announced it would launch two channels of its own around the same time. The government also set in motion a process whereby FDI in TV channels operating in the news category was to be reviewed and likely to be linked to the parameters prevailing in the print medium. In the print arena (except trade publications), the government allows 26 per cent FDI investment. Zee Telefilms was on an acquisition spree, buying stake into ETC Networks and Padmalaya Telefilms. The size of the all-cash deal for ETC Networks which owned ETC Punjabi and ETC Music was approximately Rs 250 million (Rs 180 million for purchase of shares from promoters and Rs 70 million for preferential allotment).

Zee’s stake in Padmalaya Telefilms (a listed company) was through an acquisition of a 64.3 per cent stake in the holding company, Padmalaya Enterprises Pvt Ltd (PEPL). This gave Zee a 32.8 per cent stake in Padmalaya Telefilms, a Hyderabad-based content company. Zee was to pay Rs 590 million for the deal including an open offer of 20 per cent as required by regulations. The year also saw the exit of Zee Telefilms CEO Sandeep Goyal. Chandra decided to run the company at the operational level as well and brought back his brothers Jawahar Goel and Laxmi Goel to manage Siticable and news businesses of Zee.

For the major players like Sun and ETV in the southern region, it was a period of consolidation. Vijay TV led the move towards pay in Tamil Nadu. Sun announced plans to take Telugu channel Gemini TV pay. Doordarshan’s revenues were being taken away by the private satellite players. During 1999-2000, DD’s revenues stood at Rs 5,971.9 million and AIR’s at Rs 808.4 million. DD’s earnings increased in 2000-2001 to Rs 6,375.1 million while AIR’s dipped to Rs 739 million. For 2001-2002, DD earned Rs 6,152 million (indicating a dip in earnings), while AIR’s revenues increased to Rs 966.8 million. By the time this financial year closes, Prasar Bharati expects that DD would have mopped up about Rs 6,250 million, while AIR is expected to do another Rs 1,000 million. 

Television in the Life of Children

In city of Ahmedabad, a 30 months  old female child watches a TV  serial of “Thomas and Friends” produced by Hit Entertainment , U.K. Television programme is available on CD  This little Thomas viewer is aware of various friends of Thomas by name. Train engine animation programme is beautifully done and voice over is given by an elderly male.  Colourful blue, red and brown engines and rail compartments, engine sound and noise all give the feeling of real engine. The little girl makes demand all day long to view Thomas on her home TV.  Now she has learned to load CD on DVD and on the television.  In less than six months, Thomas has become a ‘real’ human being for her who now sleeps in the night, goes to his parent’s house and even takes a nap in the afternoon.  The empathy with Thomas is very high.  The music and the soundtrack of Thomas is fully known to the little girl who moves her body on the sound track.  The family members almost all the time are around her while she watches television. Without doubt the little girl belongs to an affluent, highly educated multilingual professional household in which parents and grand parents looks after her.  But then in a way, the viewing behavior of the little girl would be no different than any other child having access to view television along with parents and other relatives.  Almost a decade ago, similar observations were made about a two year old multilingual girl in Delhi. A two-year-old multilingual girl in Delhi has learnt to watch television in the company of her parents and grandparents. She imitates dance sequences, actions and repeats sentences and songs sequences while viewing the television.  She is encouraged by her parents and adults to repeat these acts which she does delightfully.  She, by her actions, attracts the attention of her family members, neighbours and relatives alike.  But then she belongs to a family where music and art is a family tradition.  It is difficult to find out why she watches television, but then she does what parents do for passive entertainment, information and news as a family activity.  In her parents apartment the television is located in the living-cum-dining room where a great deal of e little girl is a part whether cleaning the house, cooking means or entertain activities take place from the early hours of the day until late at night of which thing guests.  The family has cable connection. They generally watches television programmes in Hindi and English (Binod C. Agrawal, 2009)

 A number of studies in several states indicated that parents disconnect the television between November, December to February, March when a child is appearing in X or in XII grade.  This kind of periodic disconnection of cable television is not uncommon in other parts of the country. In a recent study completed on January 22, 2012 in the five states of North and North-West India, it was observed that 76% of the viewers watched DTH/Cable television channels with their children regardless of the kind of programmes they were watching.  In not more than 12.5% households individuals were found watching television alone. The researchers observed , Television viewing continues to be a family or group activity (Anonymous: 2009:9).  This observation is no different than similar observations made in earlier studies in case of public service broadcasting-Doordarshan and commercial satellite television in several parts of the country. The simple fact drawn from over three decades

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