Ravish Kumar, the Senior Executive Editor of NDTV, brought the “nation to a standstill” with a ‘black screen’ symbolizing the somnolent state of Indian conscientiousness. The show, aired on February 19, has been receiving praise from a section of the society. The intelligentsia is calling it “the boldest step taken” in Indian television history. That ‘black screen’, Kumar described in a sanctimonious tone, symbolizes the sorry state of the media today. His concern is genuine; there is no doubt that the Indian media has become more of a TRP-obsessed machine, which believes that the people are interested in listening to only those who harangue at the top of their lungs.
But before we tell you that this effusive praise being showered on NDTV comes from those having a biased point of view, let me give you a quick look at the channel’s TRP position.
As you can see, NDTV Hindi is nowhere in the top, while Times Now sits like a king of TV news channels. (This piece
focusses on the TRP wave generated by Arnab Goswami and led to a war of words between Anupam Kher and Rajdeep Sardesai
.) Clearly, this means that Times Now is doing great business. So NDTV had to
come up with something to stay in the game of corporate competition. Let us not kid ourselves into believing that the media is out there to do social service. Now we turn to what other things this show was all about. The Leftists and many of those who were beaten to a pulp with Arnab Goswami’s take on the JNU row united their ranks behind NDTV on the pretense of escaping the “darkness” TV debates have led us into.
They hailed Ravish Kumar’s show as the “most iconic speech” because he took a dig at the “angry news anchors” (you know who). And therein lies the truth; this was not about a reformation in the media – this was about Arnab Goswami.
The only time NDTV showed a black screen before was during the protests in the aftermath of the December 2012 Delhi gangrape, presenting it as a representation of the people’s anger. THAT was momentous. THAT was hailed by all, and rightly so.
But the Feb 19 ‘black screen’ makes us wonder:
On his ‘historic’ show, Ravish Kumar said, “TV ko TB ho gaya hai.” (The TV is down with tuberculosis.) He is right but as he himself accepts, he, too, has been a part of it for a long time. So one is left to wonder what epiphany dawned upon NDTV that made it come up with something so dramatic now.
We know that a lot things are going wrong in this country and media is definitely one of the problems. In that respect, Ravish Kumar’s ‘black screen’ show can be termed as a necessary introspection. What we hope is that this ‘black screen’ is not used to hide behind it the truths that the self-proclaimed defenders of secularism are eager to suppress.