The role of the media as a powerful medium for shaping the ideas, aspirations and conduct of the people even in the remotest corners of the country entrusts it with the responsibility of being the watchdog and in giving voice to the marginalised.

TRAI Recommendations
Maintaining plurality in media ownership is vital for functioning of democracy. In this light, TRAI recommendations on media ownership is a welcome step. It is a common adage that “News has become noise”, news across all streams has become a packaged commodity where consumers are not able to distinguish between “real news”, advertisement and sponsored news. TRAI recommendations have tried to address these three aspects.
  1. TRAI had recommended max advertisement of 12 and 20 minutes for news and entertainment channels respectively. But the real issue is of revenue stream. As digitisation is not yet complete, channel are increasingly relying on ads for generating revenue streams. With digitization, channels can charge more for genuinely good content thereby reducing their reliance on ads. So, TRAI has to focus on completing digitization asap.
  2. Media houses have gained lot of control over viewers’ minds, they can make or break career of a politician or business of a company. So, there is a propensity to own media houses to generate a positive impression. This is clearly plausible from the fact that major TV networks in South are owned by politicians/parties. A recent acquisition by a corporate giant has raised serious questions over need for independence. TRAI has recommended that a business can participate in 2 of three major news stream, i.e. TV, Print media and Radio. But, TRAI is completely silent on the medium of Internet. In the coming future internet would become the major medium able to overshadow all others. Thus, leaving internet out of regulatory mechanism defeats the purpose of regulation.
  3. A clear distinction between ownership and control; It defines control very widely and recommends using the Herfindahl Hirschman Index, a globally accepted metric, to prevent monopolistic control of media across relevant markets like newspapers and television by a single corporate entity.
  4. TRAI has also laid down reporting requirements for media houses to promote transparency about ownership.
  5. Making Doordarshan functionally autonomous, so that it becomes a strong, independent news broadcaster
  6. The setting up of a media regulator for print and TV
  7. There is also a menace of paid and sponsored news and with paid news declared as an electoral offence; a serious introspection over conflict of interest in media is required. At the international level, respected newspaper, Guardian has established an independent trust, insulating itself from the influence of businesses and politicians, similar arrangements are necessary in Indian along with careful monitoring. TRAI recommendation on this aspect is silent.
Thus, while a welcome initiative, TRAI needs to do more, especially including internet within the regulatory ambit to meet the objective of a truly independent media.
Impact of Cinema & Media
  • positive impact- Certain movies with women as lead, are improving confidence among women. recent movie “Mary Kom” is an example for that. But the number of such movies is limited.
  • negative– women are shown as glamour dolls. Sexy comments and so called item songs are again a bit problematic as they derogate the dignity of women. Scenes like rape are also not uncommon in our movies.
  • positive impact- media creates awareness with regards to women rights. It reports about violations of such things. It also surfaces lay downs in this regard and creates a platform for women oriented debates as well.
  • negative impact– on the way to make its profits media sensationalize issues like rape and other things. some entertainment channels broadcast unnecessary rumours about intimate relations. Recent issue like “deepika padukone dress furore” is an example for that.
Thus both media and cinema are having a mixed impact and influence on the minds of people. Both media and cinema should be more responsible while they are dealing with women issues. After all, women are still vulnerable in our society.
Defects in Indian Media:
  • Twisted Facts
    • False and defamatory news is created , with the obvious intention of creating a sensation
    • The doctored tape of the speech of Jawaharlal Nehru University student activist Kanhaiya Kumar is a case in point
  • Paid News
  • Non-issues preferred over real issues
    • Media often portray non-issues as real issues, while the real issues are sidelined
    • The real issues in India are economic, that is, the terrible economic conditions in which 80 per cent of our people are living, the poverty, unemployment, lack of housing and medical care and so on
    • Instead of addressing these real issues, the media often try to divert the attention of people to non-issues
  • Media Trails
Recently the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended measures to address the issue of media ownership and regulation in India. Critically comment on these recommendations. (200 Words)
With suitable examples, critically comment on the role of popular cinema and media in influencing opinion and perception of common man about women in India. (200 Words)



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