Recently, there have appeared in Delhi, like the outbreak of a seasonal rash, a series of hoardings for the new news channel, Times Now, launched by the Times Group in association with Reuters.
"When was the last time a news channel made you feel like this?" demands a hoarding, showing a man in an armchair, grasping his bottle of water so hard that it shoots a spume into the air at an unmistakable angle. The answer to the question is: never, thank god.
The point being that the last thing you want from a news channel is to be so overexcited that you ejaculate at the opening credits. News can leave one stunned—the horrors of war, famine, murder, corruption, scandal—you have to actively deaden your responses if you want to watch the news and then carry on a normal life. But a news channel? A few years back a Russian TV channel experimented with topless newscasters: but even that experiment was short-lived, and I doubt whether a redoubtable agency like Reuters would consent to such a ratings-grabber.
On the other hand, what ARE they trying to suggest? That their target audience is a mid-30s male who is so sexually
skewed that he gets off on TV news? After 10 years, close observation and hard research, I have a pretty low opinion of
Indian urban male sexuality, but even I had trouble plumbing these depths. Surely a news channel aspires to be reliable,
non-partisan, relevant, and informative? So to the maverick gods of media broadcasting, Is end up this humble prayer:
Give us this day our daily Doordarshan, and forgive us our CNNs as we forgive those who CNN against us, for thine
is the Auntie, the BBC and NDTV, Amen.
This article originally appeared in Delhi City Limits, February 15, 2006
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