9 PM, Prime time at news channels was my window to India and World. After a day’s work, since 1984, when television first came to my home (Delhi Doordarshan) and 1991, when private cable networks invaded, the newsreader was a friend, philosopher, teacher and guide who will not only let me know what happened during the day but also an honest and unbiased opinion on its impact; which was debated with family, friends and relative the day after.
Something changed once Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi decided to contest for the post of Prime Minister of India. Suddenly we realised that majority of these news channels, their news anchors, owners and guests belongs to one fraternity, so called liberal, secular, centrist / leftist. Every channel was reeling out stuff after stuff with doomsday scenario, if this man is elected. First, we all believed. Than we started doubting when every action of this man was denounced even when our common sense was saying he is right on this. We wanted to know other side, which these channels were refusing to share; and then there came channels who started showing only other side of the story.
So, we did have 2 side of the story. But on different channels.
An action from government will have positive reviews / opinion on one set of channels having a set of guest panels and negative on another. We all started to know the affiliations of these channels and their anchors. I no longer trust any channel, any news anchor, and any guest; there is nothing called honest opinion.
9 PM is dead, long live Prime time.
I no longer watch 9 PM news. Check news apps to read relevant news (no opinion). It seems lot of my friends are doing the same; there is no debate in offices on topics discussed during last night prime time. It seems, people have not only lost interest in political debate but also non-political ones pertaining to economics, social and cultural. Why? because these channels end up giving political colours to all such debates. A rape victim is no longer a rape victim; but she is a religion, a caste, a state, a party, an ideology. So, if you happen to be on another side of caste, religion, state, part and ideology; victim no longer mater. And therefore no anger on the street; Media just lost the credibility to raise any issue.
It’s sad. Media did a wonderful job to mainstream issues which otherwise politicians and the government of the day would loved to put under the carpet. There will be no candle light march to show solidarity for Jessica Lal, which one news channel managed to get it into the conscious of so many people that it became an overnight people’s movement for justice. And she got the justice. Alas there will be no other Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement, which got the mileage only because media was trusted till then. There will no more Nirbhaya. We have already seen that; no uprising for Vemulla or Nazib. Media tried and failed to even get the justice for their own journalist friend from Bangalore.
We lost one pillar of the democracy.
USA has seen the repercussion.
India has to get back its vibrant and free media. Old generation has to go. They have sold their soul and trust, both left & right. New generation has to join, who can freely and honestly present both side of coin.
We badly want our 9PM back.