Media Commercialization

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Commercialization of Indian media

The media industry across the globe has witnessed spectacular changes in the recent years. There has been a considerable change in the perception of media in the olden times, as revolutionary instruments and powerful political players. Today, the media is perceived more as businesses with a motto of `remaining profitable'. The growing competition along with the trend of confinement of media ownership to a few major transnational conglomerates has further intensified the commercial pressure in the terrain. This has also resulted in media proliferation, wherein numerous emerging media products embark on catering to the needs of a more fragmented market. Commodification of news has become a serious issue today. "The news has become a product, packaged and sold to the economic elite, designed to satisfy the needs of the advertiser first, and audience second." The mounting competition adds on to this connotation which stimulates the media genre to adopt strategies which may even disfigure and deface the relationship between editorial content and advertising. As the media dome becomes commercial, it relies more on advertising revenue for its survival, which, in turn increases pressure to develop media content that appeals to the advertisers. This, in fact, results in an elevated amount of conflicts with the media's accountability towards public in terms of supplying information, in public interest. In fact, the very purpose of the existence of the media, i.e., informing the public is overshadowed by such commercial concerns. The increasing pressure also leads the media houses to be choosy about their audiences with regard to the advertiser appeal, and hence the focus is shifted to wealthy, elite audience. In India, the media careens between froth, marketing, reporting, opinion, and reacting. Seriousness is often dislodged by commercialism: editor of leading national daily turned gourmand and celebrity interviewer; front page coverage of celebrity weddings, gastric troubles; fatter "lifestyle" supplements; hour long adulatory shows on news channels about an Indian superstar who frankly claims to have no ambitions other to have fun and entertain the masses etc. Predictably, the preponderance of coverage of the attacks and its aftermath is superficial too: trending to human interest, pandering to mass emotional outrage, instead of focusing on systemic problems. "Serious" reporters are doing talk shows of sorts, calling on their guest panel former soap stars, actors, and socialites. Reports are rife with accusations of the administration's callousness, dropped balls, and self-righteous calls for more heads to roll. Journalism in the face of a real crisis is laced with passionate rhetoric, not real questions and solutions. The strength and importance of media in a democracy is well recognized. Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, which gives freedom of speech and expression includes within its ambit, freedom of press. The existence of a free, independent and powerful media is the cornerstone of a democracy, especially of a highly mixed society like India. Media is not only a medium to express once feelings, opinions and views, but it is also responsible and instrumental for building opinions and views on various topics of regional, national and international agenda. The pivotal role of the media is its ability to mobilize the thinking process of millions. But in today’s highly commercialized market, the press is losing its main focus. Journalism had deviated from the path of responsible journalism to more saleable journalism. There is more news about the “rich and the happening” rather than the poor and dying. The gap between mass media and mass reality is growing at an alarming pace. Nowadays media is primarily focusing only “the elite” section of society. How much does the unforgettable tour of the Bachchans affect us? And how much would a disaster like Bihar floods affect the people?...
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