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Zee News, Times Now, Aaj Tak must perish in 2020. India’s TV news needs to go back a decade

The biggest constitutional amendment that India needs in 2020 is this: abolish TV news channels.

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Ah, a new year and a new decade — both deserve to be launched on the wings of a hope and a prayer.

So, here we go:

We, the TV viewers of India, do solemnly hope and pray that television news will be better than it was in 2019.

In that noble cause, we would like to suggest the following constitutional amendments.

First, let’s abolish Indian television news. No, that needs to be rephrased: let’s abolish TV news channels because the amount of news most of them carry can be compressed into a tweet.

If that’s too radical a detox for TV addicts, how about we just ban prime time news debates? Isn’t that a genius idea? Imagine an evening without TV news anchors who endlessly talk and never run out of words?

Imagine no news anchors (sing this to the tune of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’): bye-bye Anjana Om Kashyap, Rubika Liyaquat, Sudhir Chaudhary, Rajat Sharma, Rohit Sardana, Ravish Kumar, Amish Devgn, Sreenivasan Jain, Nidhi Razdan, Rahul Shivshankar, Navika Kumar, Rajdeep Sardesai, Gaurav C. Sawant, Zakka Jacob, Bhupendra Chaubey, Arnab Goswami and Arnab Goswami…

Ah, what bliss it was…

What would the news channels telecast, instead?

Er, the news, maybe? BBC does it;  CNN International does it too. So why can’t Indian news channels do it? Why can’t they just broadcast hourly bulletins of news about events and developments across the country and the world, like they used to do a decade ago? Just some good old-fashioned ground reporting by local and state correspondents who know the lay of the land?

Also read: Guess what Times Now and Republic TV, often carrying identical content, finally disagreed on

The good examples

If we absolutely must have prime time debates — many news anchors would be jobless otherwise and may raise the already alarming unemployment rate  — then can we have debates of the kind we watch on Mirror Now, ET Now’s ‘India Development Debate’ or NDTV 24×7’s ‘The Big Fight’ – debates where each panelist is given sufficient time to voice an opinion before yielding the microphone to another person?

Not like the likes of Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami: as panelists watch, he shouts “everyone quiet” before pronouncing lengthy judgments on the CAA and the NRC and the “dirty lies” of the Congress; he interrupts panelists the second they begin to speak and allows then allows them to shout simultaneously so that they all sound incomprehensible. (Please listen to last Sunday’s debate and you’ll understand).

Currently, all Indian news anchors behave like the chief guest on their own shows: they deliver the main address (aka sermon), and panelists listen meekly and impassively. Occasionally, they raise their raise hand to speak like we did in the school room — the anchor  chooses to either let them talk or simply ignores them.

Also read: Karnataka sets up 24×7 control rooms to monitor TV channels

The ‘Great Indian Studio Trick’

May we have debates where the anchors ask questions and let others do the answering?

No classroom lecture from Sudhir Chaudhary on the ‘tukde tukde’ gang’s latest perfidies (Zee News) or a ‘Reality Check’ from Sreenivasan Jain on the BJP’s most recent duplicities (NDTV 24×7).

No Ravish Kumar monologues on ‘godi media’ (NDTV India) or Navika Kumar on ‘Lutyens’ Delhi’ (Times Now).

And while we’re asking, could news channels please locate a few new panelists, too? The BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra has to stop the ‘Great Indian Studio Trick’, which consists of appearing in five different news studios at the same time.

As for RSS thinker and lawyer Desh Ratan Nigam and advocate Vivek Reddy, when they fill out their National Population Register (NPR) forms, they will likely identify NDTV’s Delhi office as their permanent residence. And then there are the Poonawallas, Tehseen and Shehzad, who have made themselves at home in every Delhi news studio — from Aaj Tak to Times Now.

A few more unsolicited suggestions:

Doordarshan: like the national carrier Air India, DD ought to be sold to anyone who will buy it. Else, simply hand over its infrastructure to the Asian News International (ANI), the news agency that has already become the Narendra Modi government’s official news channel.

It could also merge with the erstwhile NaMo TV (remember that election stunt pulled by the BJP?). Actor Akshay Kumar could then interview PM Modi and his other half — Home Minister Amit Shah — on a new weekly version of ‘Mann Ki Baat’. The channel could also feature their speeches.

To counter this, the Congress could launch RaGa TV starring Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. Viewers can switch from one channel to the other for their daily dose of ‘tu tu main main’, thereby allowing other news channels to report the news.

Also read: Democracy without free press is like a blank piece of paper: Ex-President Pranab Mukherjee

Wish list of new channels

Alphabet channel: This could be for JD(U), AIADMK, BJD, TMC, NCP, DMK, CPI, Shiv Sena and all the other regional political parties that never get a look in on the prime-time debates — JD(U)’s Pavan K. Varma and TMC’s Chandan Mitra notwithstanding.

‘AAP Ka Channel’: Like NaMo TV, this could be launched for Arvind Kejriwal immediately and continue until the 2020 Delhi assembly election — he’d love that.

Rajya Sabha TV and Lok Sabha TV: These should become streaming platforms that you pay to watch only when Parliament is in session.  Otherwise a waste of taxpayers’  money.

People Live: an authentic Peepli Live where the public, whom we seldom hear from unless it’s about rising pollution levels, the severity of the cold, the price of onions and more recently the CAA, NPR and NRC, speaks up and is heard.

Finally, on this wish list, one dedicated channel to Pakistan. Call it what you like. Zee News, Zee Hindustan, India TV, Aaj Tak, ABP News and CNN News18 can pool their resources and launch it. The channel would devote itself to all the conspiracy theories about Pakistan, the machinations of the Pakistan Army, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the prowling terrorists – and highlight the latest scandals to engulf Prime Minister Imran Khan or Pakistan’s cricketers.

Such a channel would end the India-Pakistan hyphenation and free up time for news from other neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, etc., which we only see or hear about if PM Modi visits them or when their heads of state come to India.

Any takers?

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  1. kitna jhut bolega kattarpanthio kaa dalali kab tak korega print fake media Ndtv nehi Raandi tv vardwaa Khavish dalal

  2. BBC does news? Then maybe Al-Jazeera does it too. You should see the propaganda on Kashmir from the BBC and nothing about Pak army’s atrocities in POK. This opinion piece is moronic, shut every news house and everything will be fine. You probably don’t watch DD News at all, yes it does not do criticism of the government because it is government-owned but it’s not shouting and people in debates and presents facts as news, not opinion.

  3. Stupid article to kill competitors.
    Channels like yours should be best placed in countries like China or North Korea, not in democratic India.
    Note that news medias like The Print, Quint, The wire are all on the radar of many nationalists

  4. Just because you dislike them you want to ban them? Does it not remind you of a popular leftist word “Authoritarianism”. Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC are not much different from the News media in India. Partisanship is common across the board all over the world. But of course, the author might not be aware because the “Right” in India has managed to level the playing field only recently. Anyways many of these Media houses are opportunists and choose to ride the pro-establishment wave. Nevertheless, in a democratic and capitalist regime, the ultimate fate of a news channel is decided by its viewers and not based on some random person’s dislikes.

  5. We can also do without Print, Wire, Quint and the like. And, of course, Hindustan Times, TOI, The Hindu, Indian Express -all fake /one -sided news purveyors!

  6. Indian journalists whether in print media or TV are no more news reporters. Now all we have are opinion peddlers who love to listen to their own voices of read their own writings. The guests etc are just a sideshow. Most if not all TV anchors would love to host shows where they ask questions and answer them as well. Most are almost there already the guests being just a nuisance.

  7. First, a happy new year, Ma’am. You’re spot-on in every observation made. These debates have the power to ruin any person’s mood, his evening, his relationships. As always, I’m glad you haven’t spared anyone . I wish, though, that you had included references to anchors like Nidhi Razadan who gets emotionally attached to the victims (remember Gurmehar Kaur interview), or anchors like Rajdeep Sardesai who choose to being either selectively quiet or compulsively interject, depending on the affiliation of the spokesperson. I agree, some change must come about. It can’t go on like that forever. Regards, best wishes.

    • Just re-read the article. Correction, you have referred to the anchors mentioned in my previous comment

  8. 24×7 news channels are the sole reason for the current mistrust across India’s state of affairs. All 24×7 news channels should be banned. Channels interested in news should be allowed to run bulletins for not more than 6 times a day. There should also be limits to covering politics.

  9. Your views sounds little biased but content makes sense. My view is supreme must design guideline on (1) Freedom of speech (2) Various rights etc and it also include non biased news ( Do u really term BBC and CNN neutral ? )

    Rather focus on Anchor , blame on participants who daily prefer for such debate and enjoy it.

    I wish to give classic example…..I am from Ahmedabad and a concept of Shuttle auto which runs between specific points. These auto so not follow any traffic, driving rules. It ia high risk but each auto carry not less than 7-8 passengers !! Same like TV debate participants, no other work so enjoy participating and sharing rubbish views or even bear insults….

  10. We truly appreciate all the effort you have to put in to watching the news channels of India. We gave up long ago.

  11. How sad is the intolerance level of the PRINT.
    We live in a democracy. Everyone should have the liberty to watch and process what they feel like.
    THE PRINT is such an example of hypocrisy. Never read anything positive regarding any progress in the country through them. According to them, India is on a constant decline curve right from the day NDA came to power. And people who oppose them become Modi-bhakts.

  12. Thank you for saying what you have said. .Any neutral person without any vested interest would agree with you.But who would listen to people like you ?

  13. No takers for your opinion. You are a coward as You have not given option of dislike . We ignore your opinion completely.thanks

  14. Ho w will Modi win election then, if there is no propaganda machine run by his pro-Hindu extremist mouthpiece media? Or how can India’s corrupt and rogue military plunder the wealth of the nation in the name of running fake stories about terrorist attacks and fake surgical strikes?

  15. Totally agree with the views..not many in young generation are willing to listen such one sided news.
    CNN and BBC are good examples, where hourly bulletin are showcased rather than endless drama aired for an entire day, which could be presented in a single line statement.
    May be some startup like huffington post in US, could actually start with a portal and later launch online news channel to fix this thing.
    Also media houses should be shifted from delhi n mumbai and should cover the entire nation

  16. Itna intolerance kis liye bhai thoda tumse alag view rakhne walo ko bhi bardash karna sikho, 2-3 ke hone se hi tumhara propaganda nahi chala pa raha kya? Jaha vandematram communal hai aur jihad secular, waise tum leftist librandu se tolerance ki asha karna bhi pagalpan hai.

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