A complaint today is that local television channels - both government-controlled and private-are losing their appeal to viewers. Knowledgeable people complain that the quality of programmes has deteriorated so much that even the unenlightened viewers have turned away from local channels to hone in on foreign TV programmes. Another oft-repeated complaint is that presence of an increasing number of non-professional people in the electronic media has been responsible for the creative sterility.
The run-of-the-mill viewers are, however, blunt in their comment. They take a swipe against the way they are bombarded by advertisements during the run of a programme -be it news, a drama or any other programme. Often contents lose seriousness or appeal simply because of recurrent infringement of ads. Not only do the viewers lose their attention, they also lose their temper. They feel cheated and undermined.
However, ads are the fuel for TV channels in the private sector. Such TV channels cannot run without the revenue earned from ads. Here is a dilemma that must not be overlooked. Now the need is to apply maximum discretion for maintaining a balance between air times of programme content and ads carried within. Yet it must be admitted that there is a limit to repeating the same ads during a programme. If there are a number of sponsors and their ads have to be accommodated one after another, those prove to be a torture to viewers' senses and sensibilities. The channels could not care less. After all, they have agreed to keep slots for sponsors' ads in exchange for fat amount of money.
If a drama is time and again interrupted by ads, people have every right to dump it and move on to one that may not be better in terms of an art form but at least well made and free from advertisement interferences. Sport programmes in particular have many sponsors and sub-sponsors and those suffer terribly on account of ad invasion.
If frequency of ads in a programme can be rationalised with judicious interpolation or giving prominence to those at the beginning of the show, there is no remedy for a lack of creative talent. Given the mediocrity of people who rule the roost, there is hardly any hope they will ever be able to produce a ground-breaking or outstanding programme. Here is an entertainment industry that must strive to set new benchmarks of artistic value and cultural pursuit.
Admittedly, a cultural vacuum is engulfing the entire world, thanks to the social media. Today, the smartphone brings the latest of everything including the most bizarre at the fingertip and the experience is exhilarating for the young people in particular. Little do they realise that the contents they receive courtesy of netflix, web series or youtube are of instant value and interests. Easily available, they keep the young ones engaged and some become addicted to such video contents or streaming materials.
Local TV channels have to compete with such social media. It is because of this, their responsibility becomes even greater. TV channels can indeed have a decisive role to play in creating and improving the viewers' taste. Great writers, dramatists and poets have done this before. Now book reading is a dying passion. So there is a need for presenting the popular stories, novels and dramas along with the classics in a most cinematic manner. Producers and directors of outstanding ability and quality can do this. Other programmes also demand a touch of the genius for capturing the attention of both the common viewers and the more equal among them. Artistic consideration must get the better of commercial concerns in certain cases.