February 6, 2014

Media the fourth pillar or just for Chillar?

Media pride itself as a critical component of a functioning democracy. It enjoys vast powers in the name of being the guardian of citizen’s rights & interests from mighty powerful governments.  Media claims to be the watchdog of people in a republic. But is it possible for privately owned, advertising revenue funded media to keep the interests of democracy and citizens ahead of their own avowed aim of profit maximization & business?  You would doubt.

Let’s examine the media thesis of being a public service for strengthening of democracy in a republic. In order to analyze the myth of media being a public service it would be appropriate to study its conduct during most critical period of elections in democracy. How media contributes, influence or obstructs election process can reveal its true intentions and therefore nature.

Media in India competes for vast advertising & promotion budgets of political players.  There is no harm in fair competition but media do not treat political advertising at par with other advertising. If media want to further the cause of democracy in a republic then what is the rationale to charge premium over normal advertising tariff? Moreover if commercial advertiser gets credit then why deny same facility for political advertising? Why should media organizations be allowed to charge higher tariff & cash terms for political advertisements meant to educate citizens and make informed choices? Profit maximization on public service advertising is criminal and anti-democratic.

Media monsters charge lower than commercial tariff on many categories of advertisements but during elections time they go for kill and bring a variety of wrongful pressures on political players for maximum share of advertising budget.  The Election Commission of India must intervene and order the media to charge lowest advertising tariff close to DAVP rates as election advertising has no commercial objective.  

Indian media is a unique beast. It has no resemblances to anyone else in any democratic country on the earth. The unregulated media doesn’t serve the nation, governments or citizens and places the profit maximization motive of its owners foremost.  India must stop it & tame the beast. Media enjoys vast benefits in India but its actions are directed at collecting chillar [Money] than working as fourth pillar of democracy. 

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