The year 2019 will be recorded as a major change in the Indian media. Although, the era of change was already underway and new trends were not hidden, but they reached their peak this year.
Now both the direction and the condition of the Indian media are clearly visible.
In this era of recession, the media industry, which is developing at the rate of around eleven percent, has now crossed one lakh crore. It is likely that by the year 2024, it will cross the figure of three lakh crores.
The number of journals and magazines has gone above one lakh fifteen thousand and TV channels are going to reach 900. The network of FM radio has spread all over the country and leave aside the talk of digital media, its growth rate is the highest. Revenue from advertisements is not increasing as expected, yet it is fair.
So should we assume on the basis of this scale that our media is healthy? Or is it also important to see how much and how he is playing his role in a democratic country?
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What does the past say
In fact, the year taking off is going to redefine the media. It has clarified the new character of commercial media, exposing its intentions and concerns. Now there is very little confusion about the media.
This year was of general elections in India and every election is transformative for media. But, this time a more transformative event than the election was a terrorist attack in Pulwama. After this attack, the Air Force's surgical strike on Balakot and then the release of Abhinandan not only changed the election agenda, but it also changed the politics of politics.
This ensured the victory of the government whose doubts were being expressed about the withdrawal. After Pulwama, a wave of nationalism was created in the country. There was contribution of politics in this, but the role of media was not less. It played a big role in setting the electoral agenda according to the needs of the ruling party.
The truth is that he became the spokesperson of the ruling party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Not only did he bypass the opposition, he also made conditions favorable for the ruling party by standing him in the box. The result came as an unprecedented victory for the BJP and its allies.
With the victory of Modi, radical nationalism got new wings. The media also started flying with his support. All media institutions started carrying the flag of this ultra-nationalism. This meant blind support of the BJP and blind opposition to its opponents.
Now before us, there was a devotee-media who asked questions, decided accountability and not criticized.
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Increasing Integrity to the Government
Confident of coming to power again, the government started increasing its control over the media even more. As a result, some of the freedom that was visible in the media before the election also disappeared. The government's agenda became its agenda. He started working like the propaganda machinery of the government.
The effect of this growing loyalty to the government was shown to us again and again. The content of TV-newspapers became confined to Muslims and Pakistan. The news of the deepening crisis on the economy was pushed to the margins. The practice of talking about the government's failures was over.
Ninety percent of the discussions on news channels started happening on Hindu-Muslim. Scenes of hatred and violence clashed with hatred and violence that gave rise to communal frenzy began to be roamed among them. Equipped with the agenda of communal polarization, the government kept providing them with issues for this.
She continued to bring issues like triple talaq, section 370, Ayodhya dispute and citizenship amendments one by one and the media packaged them and served them according to her wishes. Issues like cow protection and mob lynching were already there, history and the prevailing stereotypes were also used for this.
Stance towards foreign media
After the removal of Article 370 from Kashmir, his attitude became completely anti-constitutional. He was not worried about the fundamental rights of Kashmiris, but he justified government repression. Even he was not worried about his freedom.
The effect of his attitude was that people started turning to the foreign media. Look at the irony that once the foreign media started giving him more than the Indian media. They found foreign channels and magazines to be more reliable.
They began to feel that the Indian media going through an undeclared emergency would not tell the truth, for this they would have to take help of BBC, The Guardian and Washington Post. In this process of comparison, it became even more exposed that the Indian media is not at all independent. His remaining credibility was also dusted.
In this way, by the end of the year the character of the media had completely changed. Diversity and multiplicity of ideas are over. The differences were made a crime. Hate news or hate content ran everywhere from the pages of newspapers to the TV screen.
The command of new media has gone into the hands of marketist-nationalist-upper-caste journalists. It is clear that the concerns of Dalit and Adivasis have been out of its purview. If rape is not done then women should not waste that time. Minorities are directly on his target.
Human rights activists, people associated with voluntary organizations, leftists and liberals have also become villains for it. He sometimes calls them piecemeal gangs and sometimes Urban Naxalites. One of his undisclosed goals is to violate his character and make him a traitor in the eyes of the public.
Fear in media
It is not that this form of media has been created with his consent or desire. It is true that the media has a natural tendency towards them. This is also due to its internal structure. It is already inclined towards power, upper-middle class and upcast. But for this, the government has also adopted every tactic.
The government has sometimes threatened the media by giving advisories and warnings in signs. He created fear in the media world by stopping advertisements of many big newspapers. Many editors and journalists were expelled from the institutions after seeing his bereft. He created such an atmosphere of fear that the media started crawling instead of bowing down.
The new character of media was also created by the influence and pressure of other media like social media. The success of exaggerated comments and provocative content in social media attracted him as well and he became like him. But the emphasis of the government and the ruling party was working on this media.
The content that is being generated in Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and YouTube is also coming from many incredible sources. It also has IT cells of political parties, trollers and market forces. That is why the effect of fake news started appearing on him as well.
Media in the hands of corporates
Changes in the media industry are also one of the major reasons. One, technology has brought about a big change in the behavior of media users. Smartphone has now become the largest platform for viewing news and other content and has its own limitations. Creating content and competing with others according to this platform is a big challenge.
The increasing dominance of big-capital corporate in the media is also eroding its independence. Corporates are making media a weapon for their own interests and in this order they have tied up with power. This trend has increased even more this year.
But the main culprit is the government. It has not declared an emergency nor implemented ideological censorship. But the media has been forced to run according to his interests, he is walking.
With the help of Israeli spyware, not only human rights activists, but also journalists' messages are being recorded, where is the scope left for good journalism.
Media itself changed
It is obvious that earlier the market and the competition created by it had distracted journalism from the basic objectives and code of conduct, but now it is not lost, it has changed its house.
Unfortunately, people have almost stopped talking about the code of conduct. After the self-regulation measures have completely failed, now when there is a need for an independent regulatory body to regulate the media, there is no rumor happening anywhere.
In contrast, worldwide, the work of tightening companies providing social media has started, especially in Europe. Most countries are moving towards strict regulation. The purpose of what is being done in India in this direction is something else. Instead of forcing the media to follow the code of conduct, the intention is more to suppress the resistance.
NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar getting the Magsaysay Award can be called one of the big events of this year. In such stifling times, it was a big thing to get a voice of protest and resistance at the international level.
(The views given in this article are personal to the author.)
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