Social Responsibilities of “The Fourth Estate”

It is the media or the public communications systems that is often referred to as The Fourth Estate. It is an invaluable asset and a resource in nations development as it has the greatest onus to keep the citizens of the country informed about the various developments.

[Doordarshan]After a long time, on Friday, I was flipping through and watching a programme on Doordarshan, the state-owned television channel. It was once upon time the only channel of entertainment in India. Also, it was also the news source for government regulations and press releases to the nation.  As a matter of fact, all public service ads would be telecast at regular intervals. By public service ads, I mean the following:

  1. ‘Missing Persons’ — free announcement
  2. ‘Blood Donation Seekings’
  3. Pulse Polio Immunisation Campaign.

More than the emphasis for commercial advertisement slots, more emphasis is given to these social concerns.  But the sad state of affairs is that the number of viewers has drastically come down for Doordarshan and a majority has been drifted away to privately owned and politically backed up affluent satellite television channels. There are also so-called TV-Wars between the politically parties.

Instances of Sun TV (backed up by DMK) and Jaya TV (backed up AIADMK) fighting each other over the way a news is presented, is never isolated. I am not against the proliferation of private television channels. No doubt, they provide rich advertisement revenue and add to the central exchequer by way of sales tax generation. But the only thing is that official press releases of the government, which are DD’s rights are diverted to the appropriate private television channel, whichever is in power.  There is a proverb called ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and the current administration seems to rob Doordarshan of its belongings to reinforce the private entrepreneurs.

Readers: Do you have any other views on this to supplement? Feel free to share and let the Government of India try to understand the step-motherly treatment that is being meted out Doordarshan.

Television is an excellent information service complimented by satellite communication technologies. Let not the political vendetta spoil the fabric and reinstitute the name Stupid Box for the television.

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