Monopolies in media ownership would only distort democratic rights of the people!
We read that in India there is an incredible 400 number of TV news channels! And there are also fundamental questions like the concentration of ownership in one or two monopoly owners!
These monopoly owners are also, as in India right now, happen to be billionaires, captains of industry and also have tremendous influence on the reigning politicians. This makes for a heady cocktail of what is right and wrong in the polity today. And, behold (!) what is happening in the media industry today? You see there is a decline in the print media; print media is struggling to make profitable business and what we see?
The big newspaper houses have taken to new strategies, marketing strategies of colours, where they often conduct huddles and conclaves where businessmen, big and not so big are invited and awarded prizes and felicitated by bigwigs, why even the Prime Minister is invited and the Prime Minister rubbing shoulders with these newspaper owners and the events are repeatedly played on their own TV company screens for some days.
You can imagine that while these big newspaper houses ,some of which also run other related and unrelated businesses, including TV channels and what sort of news are flashed, mostly in favour of the ruling regimes.
In some States, some parties like the Dravidian ones, have turned the TV channels into big businesses and their standards of culture one can imagine. They are often former film actors, script writers and the combination of films and politicians is anything but a hellish disregard for all that we have associated with a transparent public life. The two of the long-running Chief Ministers had accumulated so much wealth, some ended in jails and that way politics is all that is important. Once you come closer to politicians you too become weak and compromised and that is now politics, more so democratic politics had degenerated to a new low.
We dare say democracy itself today has so degenerated, ministers are often so many ignomarouses and how can be programmes and policies become great jokes.
Then what is a wonder that 40 percent of our elected representatives of people are having criminal backgrounds. For one reason or other, many of the sensitive issues like corruption by reigning politicians remain far from the courts of law and also another tragedy many of the highly paid lawyers are also full-time politicians!
Why this much tears we have shed? You see we are in the media business championing farming as a big cause. Can we make any headway?
This question we ask ourselves! Many big media houses entered into agri media area. One very eminent houses used to bring out annual agri survey>But it is now stopped. Another much more diversified house started an agri journal, after a few issues, it was also stopped. We are, we confess a small fry and yet we persist!
At what price?
There are now many new issues and challenges. One is the advent of IT revolution. This has spawned many new social and technological challenges. One is the abundance of news and information. So too the emergence of information monopolies, Google and Facebook and many others. The emergence of fake news is one more big threat. Now, the current scenario of we, the people, are also treated to the fake news syndrome. How to believe the very government that is alleged to be withdrawing of data that is inconvenient to the government!
Be it growth rate, inflation or other socio-economic development data. Where do we get the reliable data?
So, what chance we have when we say something pertaining to agriculture?
Farming is hard. Helping farmers would appear to be still harder!
This we ourselves didn’t say. It is the first line in an editorial in the Economic Times! Fine sentence and we wanted our readers based in the urban centres to know about what difficulty is there to gather news and information from the farming sector and also from the rural households and from the poor sections of society. That is one reason, we say to media men and ladies, that we find increasingly that on even mainstream TV channels, we see the very same faces, the anchors and the opinion givers, experts and others, the very same faces, they come to the TV studios, as if paid opinion generators and for a fee, we suppose they give their opinions and comments and depart!
What values we can give to such paid for an opinion, even here they don’t touch touchy issues, sensitive issues and they are fine to express their sweet and pleasing utterances for a short while. So, dear readers, we don’t want to scare you from our perhaps unpleasant and a bit unpleasant air our disappointments and comments.
Yet, we find sometimes, very rarely indeed we see some harsh comments in the mainstream newspapers. Even in the Economic Times and the Business line, recently we see such harsh word like killing the agri crop insurance budgets a steep cut and also why start the schemes and once you know why you withdraw and make farmers pay for their crop insurance?
There are so many cuts in the budget and yet the media don’t report and comment in plain language?
The divide between the urban and rural India is growing and this trend is one reason why we often wonder whether the government that wins elections from rural votes think of nurturing agri/development media with suitable subsidies, advertisements, quotas etc.