Voices Anand Neelakantan Sheila Kumar Ravi Shankar Rajat Chaudhuri Anuja Chandramouli Mata Amritanandamayi MAGAZINE Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI october 25 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 What makes an anchor angry: A Anchor Anarchy Psychographic Profile By Dr Upasana Chaddha, psychologist They lack emotional regulation, have a filtered listening and a sense of entitlement. They are defensive and often misinterpret others. Someone who is impulsive, highly sensitive and intolerant of others’ perspectives. Passionate and driven, they often see themselves as superior. They feel they are right and tend to think in black and white. They love to use exaggerated gestures and a loud voice to instill fear in others to validate their point and minimise any counterargument. They enjoy attention even if negative. The TRP system may be broken but the stars of broadcast TV refuse to press pause on their prime-time melodrama as the tiny universe of news tries to fill the big shoes of general entertainment channels. In the short term it may pass off as a gladiatorial spectacle but the long-term impact on society may well be permanently poisonous. By Kaveree Bamzai T he tyranny of large numbers is a clever construct. It’s the argument used to silence those who dare to speak up—but the country voted for this government, how can you dissent? It’s also the argument used to make you feel invisible—after all, the Television Rating Points (TRPs) show the loudest, most toxic, and most outraged channels are the most watched, so how can you deny the majority? We’ve always known the truth of the parliamentary first-past-thepost system. Not everyone who wins is the choice of everyone who votes. Well, folks, get ready for the reality of the television universe. Not every channel that is number one is watched by the most number of viewers. It’s television’s worst kept secret since 1998, and despite a change in the administrator of TRPs in 2015, the reality is the 44,000 meters meant to measure viewership across the country’s 200 million TV households are open to manipulation. In the hands of masters, TRPs can become weapons of mass distraction. The tyranny of TRPs of Hindi news channels meant at one point in 1995 that we were a nation that believed Ganesha statues drank milk. Equally now, we are told that we are a nation that can be oblivious of the reality of a global pandemic, a migrant crisis and an economic catastrophe, and be entirely focused on the death of a rising young star, Sushant Singh Rajput. Don’t believe us? Look at the numbers. At the height of Covid-19 when Republic TV and Republic Bharat were leading the charge against Bollywood on the back of Rajput’s death, consumption of news went up to 21 percent of the total TV viewership, from a pre-Covid high of 7 percent. It was helped no doubt by the absence of new content on general entertainment channels because of the lockdown (see chart), which burnishes another well kept secret: news channels in India, dependent as they are on advertising revenue, behave more like entertainment rather than informa- we are told that we are a nation that can be oblivious of the reality of a global pandemic, a migrant crisis and an economic catastrophe, and be entirely focused on the death of a rising young star, Sushant Singh Rajput. Don’t believe us? Look at the numbers. tion networks. As Roger Ailes’s character says in The Loudest Voice, Showtime’s dramatisation of the creation of Fox News, “We’re going to give them a vision of the world the way it really is. And the way they want it to be. People don’t want to be informed, they want to feel informed.” Nothing is out of bounds in making this happen: whether it is running conspiracy theories as news, putting targets on people’s backs by showing unverified video footage, or leaking private WhatsApp chats. Arnab Goswami’s real life countertormentor, comedian Kunal Kamra, is more direct, calling it lying, which also explains, he says, why it has to be loud: “Only when you’re lying do you raise your voice, otherwise you don’t need to.” As in the core constituency of Fox News, those who felt excluded by the largely liberal news media of the noughties, with its cosy relationship with the establishment (an ugly truth exposed by the Niira Radia tapes leak in 2010), finally saw in the rise of Arnab a messianic force. So during the pandemic, day in and day out, we were said to be one with anchors who told us in a choked voice of the murder of their “younger brother” by a callous system that has no time for outsiders. We were told that a young woman, clearly a gold digger, was the villain who ensured his end, even as sometime later, we were told there is a drug cartel that controls Bollywood. We watched enraptured as gilded stars were brought down to earth and gilt-edged reputations were torn to shreds. The same methods that were used to bust open the Commonwealth Games scam in 2010, cover with breathless urgency the India Against Corruption movement in 2011 and question repeatedly the credentials of those in power when a young woman was raped in 2012, were now being deployed indiscriminately . It could be students protesting inside the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2016, who could be instantly declared enemies The Loudest Voices << Navika Kumar Former print journalist, admirer of late Union minister Arun Jaitley, sings bhajans on Times Now, where she is managing editor, with as much felicity as she can break down WhatsApp chats. of the people, or as they were evocatively and unfairly called the ‘tukde tukde’ gang. It could be a film industry that dared to work with actors from across the border at a time of the Uri attack in 2016. It could be Kashmiris who disagreed with the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A in 2019. And equally, it could be youngsters and old women who sat out in the streets of Delhi to assert their dissatisfaction with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens. What explains the rise of the ugly anchors and their toxic worldview? A leading << Anjana Om Kashyap Unstoppable anchor of Aaj Tak, referees a show called Dangal, which is self-explanatory. Is a star product of Outrage Inc, which is forever loaded against those not in power. Has many clones across Hindi channels. Turn to page 2 << Rahul Shivshankar Been around the TV news block, plays catch-up to former colleague Arnab, is editor-in-chief of Times Now, anchors shows with hashtags such as #ChinaMustBeTamed and #UmarLobbySecretTapes << Suresh Chavhanke Former member of RSS, tilak-wearing founder of Sudarshan News, whose single-point agenda is to spread hatred for Muslims and scare Hindus << Arnab Goswami Largely ignored at NDTV, ousted from Times Now which he built from scratch, founder of Republic TV, mansplainer-in-chief, is tough on all holy cows except those in the government.
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