Asia-Pacific

Adherence of Indian News Channels to Cardinal Principles of Broadcasting: A Survey of the Perceptions of Persian Gulf-Based Indians

Indian television journalist Sunitra Chowdhury presents the news in a NDTV studio in New Delhi. (Photo: Manpreet Romana / AFP-Getty Images)

"News is history shot on the wing."
—Gene Fowler, Skyline

"The one function that TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were."
—David Brinkley

Introduction

In the current liberalized environment that is characterized by information and knowledge base, the media, particularly the satellite television news channels, is a very powerful medium that plays a significant role in shaping public opinions and beliefs, and disseminating correct information and knowledge with a huge responsibility on their shoulders. Such dissemination of news, views, and other information has far-reaching affects on societies, businesses, and governments. At the same time, today, the electronic media attracts the best talent in the country. When talented people work in such an industry, society expects them to act in a more accountable manner and provide it with those news stories that will increase their knowledge, their sources of information, and inspire them to inculcate a feeling of responsibility toward society.

It is said that Indian viewers now spend more time watching news than reading news, as TV news channels in India have been competing with each other for more viewership. They have been targeting specific viewers by producing interactive and sensational types of news programs for vying for public attention and ultimately to improve their television rating points (T.R.P.) (also see, Prasad Mahapatra 2005). However, there has been severe public criticism of their programs resulting in a decline in the confidence level of the public. Some recent public opinion surveys reveal that the Indian news channels often resort to bias reporting, create insensitivity, contain inaccuracies, promote sensationalism and trivialization in news content, have conflicts of interest and a lack of depthlessness in their news and views stories. Furthermore, they are also criticized that "the channels tend to miss out on important stories in this scramble for eyeballs. 'Hardly 25 percent of national news bulletins are about health, education, development, welfare, environment, etc.'" (Yadav and Sharma 2006).

It is also seen that most of these TV news channels have been resorting to Page 3 type reporting, which reflects negatively in the minds of Indian youth despite the fact that every channel, whether Star News, Zee News, NDTV or even Aaj Tak, often claims that it is a socially responsible news channels (Daily News and Analysis 2005). Also, for example, Zee News on its Web site claims that it "has dared to walk a different path to bring the truth out even if it means staying away from hype and trivial sensationalism." The selection and type of news dissemination clearly indicates declining accountability on their part. Also, some of the news content on Star News and Zee News seems to be objectionable (e.g., the Rakhi and Mika episode or the Matuknath and Julie episode).

Furthermore, in a recently concluded study, S. Rao and N. S. Johal found that media ethics is not a topic being widely discussed in Indian newsrooms and TV stations. Marketing pressures, the "tabloidization" of news, and management and economic pressures are affecting journalism ethics and issues such as accountability, independence, and conflict of interests (2006). From the above, it seems that these news channels perhaps lack a definite focus and may have diverged from the cardinal principles of broadcasting to which they should be adhering.

It also seems that many of the news channels by and large are working on old strategy of creating one package for different time bands. Consequently, they seem to be lacking in introducing innovative news programs. According to one commentator: "The amount of real news they give to the viewers out of their 24 hours of constant feeding is very less. With 24 hours to fill in and rat race of improving own T.R.P. among hundreds of other channels, news channels are stooping to any level to produce what they call the 'news'" and none of them truly seem to be delivering news (Vivek 2006). Often they depend on Bollywood stars for their survival. For example, some news channels have been overburdened with news related to celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Aiswarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, Amar Singh, and Sharukh Khan in order to woo their viewers and improve its T.R.P. The question would be whether this stardom makes news every day and night. This is all trivia and fluff and it looks as though some of the news channels are the main mouthpiece for rich and famous people. This clearly reflects that gradual privatization and deregulation have resulted in increased entertainment-driven rather than public service oriented news channels in India. In other words, rather than being a news channel, they are trying to become wholesome entertainment channels even though there are other channels for this purpose. In order to survive the intense competition in this field, they often go in for sensationalism; for example, conducting sting operations in the cash-for-question scandal (Indiantelevision.com 2005) and in exposing corruption among M.P.'s in selecting the projects for a local area development scheme (Expressindia.com 2005).

It also seems that Indian TV news channels are yet to completely mature when it comes to content. Most of the channels have been resorting to trivialization of news, which is a serious issue. For example, some of the news channels were severely criticized for blowing up things with their exclusive programs on for example the 2006 Delhi sealing drive. Other examples include the episode of Rakhi and Mika, or the woman in Orissa who fell in love with a snake and decided to get married to it, etc. Data shows that the viewer stays with a channel only if it presents it with depth and responsibility and follows the story to its logical conclusion. Bhaswati Ghosh argues that "whether it be the case of a Hindi film actor being abused in the middle of the night by a fellow actor or the episode of a girl calling the police on her wedding day to arrest her dowry-demanding husband, the channels waste no time to latch on to such spicy topics and dish out soap-opera style stories on them. Within no time, a timid, conforming, submissive girl was turned into a national icon, the very symbol of 21st century womanhood and the channels even encouraged viewers to send congratulatory S.M.S.'s to her through their network" (2003).

Another criticism against news channels is their anchor-centric character. "Almost all the channels seem to be obsessed with the idea of putting glamour and style ahead of content and credibility.… Indian anchors seem to be completely neglectful of the need to sharpen their journalistic skills" (2003). Their diction and pronunciation is also of concern to viewers. On the other hand, some experts argue that the "BBC and CNN … are always careful about choosing their anchors, who in turn are mostly attuned to current happenings, their backgrounds, and future impacts" (2003).

The Cardinal Principles of Broadcasting and Objectives of the Survey

The cardinal principles of broadcasting were identified by Sir Alan Hulme at the first General Assembly of Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union in 1964 and endorsed by the Fourth Asian Broadcasting Conference to be followed by the electronic media. In 1999, Sir William Deane in his inaugural speech in the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union General Assembly stated that these principles not only remain valid today, they have become immeasurably more important for electronic media. The cardinal principles included in this study: (1) to ensure the objective presentation of news and fair and unbiased comments; (2) to promote the advancement of education and culture; (3) to provide programs for the young, which, by variety and content, will inculcate the principles of good citizenship; (4) to promote communal harmony, religious tolerance and international understanding; (5) to treat controversial public issues in an impartial and dispassionate manner; and (6) to respect human rights and dignity.

Motivated by criticism and concern about news channels, a survey was targeted to non-resident Indians (N.R.I.'s) living in the Persian Gulf region to understand their perceptions on the extent to which satellite Indian TV news channels have been adhering to the above cardinal principles of broadcasting. Furthermore, the survey also aims to examine which TV news channels the N.R.I.'s consider their favorite and whether these TV news channels have been promoting news, views, and other programs related to N.R.I.'s. The basic intention behind this survey is to generate more interest and awareness among Persian Gulf-based N.R.I.'s toward issues and news originating in their homeland and elsewhere so that they remain well informed about happenings in India. Also, to elicit suggestions, and to determine whether the TV news channels need to be regulated in order to make them more accountable to society.

N.R.I.'s in the Persian Gulf Region

Figure 1: Geographical Spread of N.R.I.'s in the Persian Gulf Region

N.R.I.'s living in the Persian Gulf region have been playing a key role in its economic transformation as well as in the economic transformation of India. They send about $6 billion annually to India by way of remittances. They are unique in the sense that they will not be naturalized in this region and ultimately will return to their homeland. Furthermore, they not only show relatively higher current ownership of both physical and financial assets in India, but are also the ones who have a relatively higher propensity to make further investments in shares and deposits in India.

About 45.9 percent of them live in Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 27.5 percent. A majority of them are laborers who work in different industries, particularly in the construction sector. The satellite Indian TV news channels are very important for them, as they are kept informed of current events and happenings in India. To subscribe to TV channels, they pay a handsome fee ranging from 25,000 to 35,000 Indian rupees annually. Therefore, they also expect that Indian news channels should produce news, views, and other programs related to them from the Persian Gulf region.

Methodology

The survey follows an online convenient random survey technique. The participants were selected randomly from a number of sources whose e-mail addresses were publicly available; for example, from Indiagrid.com, various Web sites related to N.R.I.'s, associations of N.R.I.'s in Gulf countries, social clubs, Indian schools, company Web sites, etc. In such a survey, it is not possible to establish a universe for the respondents. A total of 1,291 e-mails, with an attached copy of the questionnaire, were sent out to N.R.I.'s in six countries: Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman. When requested by some respondents, copies of the questionnaires were also sent by fax.

The survey was conducted with the help of a questionnaire. The questionnaire contained demographic information: the frequency of watching news channels, favorite channel(s), whether these news channels offered programs on N.R.I.'s, whether they adhered to the six cardinal principles of broadcasting, etc. In an open-end question, comments and suggestions were also elicited. The six satellite TV news channels, both Hindi and English—NDTV, Star News, Zee News, Aaj Tak, Channel 7, and Sahara News—were included in the study.

The questionnaire was pre-tested with 10 people from three countries and after obtaining their feedback, the questionnaire was improved. The responses from these people were excluded from the final responses. The responses were measured using a Likert scale from Strongly Agree (5) to Strongly Disagree (1). The survey began on Oct. 1, 2006, and was ended on Jan. 31, 2007.

Out of 1,291 questionnaires sent out, 274 replies were received back (21.2 percent response rate). However, the usable questionnaires were only 222 (17.2 percent). Some respondents did not provide personal information and 14 respondents stated that they were no longer working in Persian Gulf and were resident in India now. Therefore, such responses were dropped from the final analysis. In order to increase the response rate, about 42 percent of the N.R.I.'s were sent reminders three weeks after the first e-mails were sent to them. A breakdown of the responses by country is presented in Table 1.

Table 1: Number of Questionnaires Sent by E-mail and Received

Results and Discussions

Table 2: Characteristics of the Respondents

Table 2 shows some of the characteristics of the respondents. It is clear that most of the respondents were highly qualified as 109 (49.1 percent) of them had post-graduate and higher qualifications. Moreover, 40.2 percent of respondents were executives and managers who may have a better understanding of the news and views for common purposes. Many of them were academicians and housewives. About 58.6 percent had been living in this region for more than 10 years. The respondents were a mix of young and older people.

Frequency of Watching and Favorite News Channels

Table 3: Frequency of Watching the News by Persian Gulf-Based N.R.I.'s

A perusal of Table 3 shows that 50.5 percent of N.R.I.'s in the Persian Gulf region watch Indian TV news channels every day for more than two hours and 53.6 percent watch every day for less than two hours. This is an indication of the interest shown by Persian Gulf-based N.R.I.'s in the current developments that are taking place in their homeland.

Table 4-a: Number of Respondents Who Regularly Watch TV News Channels

Table 4-b: Respondents' Perceptions About Their Favorite News Channels

Table 4-a shows that more than 90 percent of the respondents regularly watch NDTV, Star News, and Zee News. Aaj Tak is watched only by 28.8 percent. It is to be noted that in most of the countries in the Persian Gulf region, N.R.I.'s subscribe to the Pahala Plus package, which provides NDTV, Star News, and Zee News, while Aaj Tak is available through a different dish. It is to be noted that in the questionnaire, Channel 7 and Sahara News were also included; however, only three respondents stated that they watch Sahara News. Therefore, these two channels were dropped from the analysis.

Furthermore, it seems that NDTV is the favorite news channel among the N.R.I.'s in the Persian Gulf region. This is clear from Table 4-b, which reveals that more than 85 percent of the respondents considered it their highly favorite and favorite news channel. Whereas, only 49 percent of them stated that Star News is their highly favorite or favorite channel. It seems that females were more inclined to watch Star News as 71 percent of them considered it their favorite news channel. Does it mean that females are more interested in watching Bollywood masala type news? ["Masala" is Hindi for "spices."] On the other hand, it appears that professionals (executives/managers) and academicians were more inclined to watch NDTV. Many of them stated that NDTV is for a matured audience.

Furthermore, though only 55 respondents in the sample stated that they watch Aaj Tak, about 70 percent of them also considered this channel as their favorite. This may not be surprising because in the past, surveys by A.C. Nielsen, Cyber-Media Research, and others (Exchange4media.com 2003) reveal that viewers in India perceived Aaj Tak as the most popular Hindi news channel. Only 31.83 percent of respondents said Zee News was their favorite channel. However, more than 50 percent of them were neutral on this account.

About 17.9 percent of the respondents stated that Zee News was their least favorite channel and more than 13 percent stated so for Star News.

Adherence to the Cardinal Principles of Broadcasting

The main objective of this survey was to examine the perceptions of Persian Gulf-based N.R.I.'s on the extent to which Indian TV news channels adhere to the six principles of broadcasting. Table 5-a presents some interesting results in this regard.

Table 5-a shows that, on an overall basis, the major Indian news channels (both Hindi and English) try to ensure "the objective presentation of news and fair and unbiased comments" as it was ranked by one (mean = 3.53) of the respondents. They also try "to respect the human rights" and "provide programs for the young that, by variety and content, will inculcate the principles of good citizenship."

A perusal of results in Table 5-a reveals that only NDTV seems to be adhering to the four cardinal principles of broadcasting. Again, these are in part: (1) "promoting the advancement of education and culture"; (2) "ensuring the objective presentation of news and fair and unbiased comment"; (3) "providing programs for the young, which, by variety and content, will inculcate the principles of good citizenship"; and (4) "respecting human rights and dignity." Over 81 percent of the respondents stated support for these principles in this survey. Therefore, the perceptions of Persian Gulf-based N.R.I.'s reflect that NDTV by working various strategies and offering a variety of news programs with vastly experienced presenters and hosts, a semblance of professionalism, etc., to a large extent, is adhering to the above principles. A few respondents stated that some of its programs seem to be popular like "Walk the Talk," "The Big Fight," "We the People," etc. At the same time, it also seems that its hosts try their best to provide down-to-earth news sensibly.

On the other hand, the survey also shows that TV news channels in India seem to have failed to deal with the issue of "treating controversial public issues in an impartial and dispassionate manner." The respondents ranked this principle among the lowest in the order. Star News and Zee News received the lowest mean scores (Star News 2.72, Zee News 2.84) on this principle. It also seems that TV news channels are often biased in favor of popular interest news; for example, when we turn to any news channel, the same story is making the rounds or keeps being repeated. For instance, when Sanjay Dutta, a film actor, was relieved by the court, the same story was repeated for several days by these news channels.

Furthermore, none of them seems to be successful in achieving the principle of "promoting communal harmony, religious tolerance, and international understanding." Zee News scored the lowest mean (2.76) on this principle. The respondents seem to have perceived that the news channels have fewer programs for promoting communal harmony, religious tolerance, and international understanding. "The news channels should have focused more on these issues as the present times are very critical especially where all sorts of extremism is taking roots, especially religious," commented a female respondent from Dubai.

There were some sharp comments that news channels strongly lack programs on the development of Indian youth and women's education. Three respondents remarked that Star News deals less on the economic and social issues and concentrates more on political and Bollywood personalities. It seems that most of the news channels' programs are still local and national, as they do not have a global reach yet. The news channels hardly cover more segment-specific news capsules such as I.T., B.P.O., global warming, etc. The respondents also stated that more international coverage, especially from the Middle East region, is required.

Table 5-a: Adherence to the Cardinal Principles of Broadcasting and Television by Major News Channels in India

Table 5-b: Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Characteristics of the Respondents: F-Ratio (by N.R.I. Status, Profession, Education, and Age)

A country-wise analysis of responses shows that there were not many significant differences in the perceptions of the respondents. The significant difference was observed only in respect of "providing programs for the young, which, by variety and content, will inculcate the principles of good citizenship" for Star News (F=2.62; p<0.005).

Furthermore, there were also not many significant differences in the results when analyzed by gender. The only significant difference was found in respect to "promoting the advancement of education and culture" for Zee News (t-test=2.55; p<0.05) and in respect to "promoting the advancement of education and culture" for Aaj Tak (t-test=2.93; p<0.01).

Significant differences in perceptions were found when results were analyzed by N.R.I. status, profession, education, and age. This indicates that the degree of their perceptions differ considerably across the news channels, particularly for NDTV, Star News, and Zee News, in adhering to various principles of broadcasting (Table 5-b). The significant differences were particularly observed for "ensuring the objective presentation of news and fair and unbiased comment," "promoting the advancement of education and culture," "promoting communal harmony, religious tolerance, and international understanding," and "treating controversial public issues in an impartial and dispassionate manner."

The Four C's of Indian TV News Channels and 'Tabloidization,' Sensationalization and Trivialization of News Content

In an open-ended question, several respondents provided comments and suggestions on TV news channels. From a review of these comments and suggestions, it seems that the satellite TV news channels in India follow a combination of current news, feature news, and feature stories, but these mainly concentrate on four C's, i.e., corruption, criminals, celebrities, and cricket. A fifth C may also be added, namely "customs-related-superstitions," as some of them stated that the news channels, particularly Zee News and Star News, also show daily programs related to superstitions prevalent in society. It is a reflection of presenting stereotyped news and analysis to viewers.

Furthermore, two respondents from Bahrain also commented that the news content had more news and views about metropolitan cities and hardly any news coverage from rural India. News coverage is more focused on Bollywood masala than on the happenings with the common people in the country. Therefore, the quantity of news reporting is not necessarily translated into quality. Many times, the news channels including NDTV dramatize news stories. Sometimes the news stories are trivial but are treated as international news or breaking news. Very often, the channels seem unable to distinguish between breaking news and common news. For breaking news, they should highlight events that are of national and international importance. The sensationalization, trivialization, and "tabloidization" (Page 3 journalism) of news stories distort its intellectual characteristics, which may lead to less accurate and biased reporting. Such news stories are usually seen on lean news days. In this regard, one general manager of a leading company in the region argued: "What we listen to and see on TV news channels influences our thought processes. Hence, we should have programs that will teach and promote open, free, clean, clear, unbiased thinking. If we don't look at things in clear mind for what it is, we will not see the thing as it actually is." Also, two respondents commented that news analysis on Star News lacks quality and needs rethinking on their part. It seems that the program on "Desh Videsh/National Reporter" of Star News appeals to respondents. At the same time, two respondents were glad to see that Indian news channels actively provided news coverage on the duties of the judiciary in India, for example, for the cases of Jessica Lal, and Nitish Kataria.

One respondent suggested: "A portion of airtime should be dedicated for socially responsible awareness in the areas of education, health, hygiene, environment, communal harmony, national pride, etc. Graphic videos of violence, killings, crimes/news related to communal tensions, etc., should be presented in a more mature manner." Another respondent from Bahrain who happens to be an editor argued, "The news channels in India must develop a more mature approach while presenting news reports so that viewers are able to get a broader picture of the news report."

Respondents were also very critical about the presentation of news by some newsreaders on these channels. Two senior executives from a big organization were least satisfied with the way the news is read by the newsreaders. They strongly suggested that their diction and pronunciation must be improved. Often they commit glaring mistakes in pronouncing even common words. Several of them suggested that "news channels should employ experienced journalists who know what questions to ask instead of hiring youngsters simply because they look presentable." Another respondent from Oman commented: "the language and body language of presenters [needs] to be more controlled and composed. Language seems to be usually closer to 'over exaggeration' and body language usually is hyper. A common code of conduct should be developed by the news channels themselves." At the same time, they should be "more proactive and investigative, and should stick to responsible reporting. Many news channels, in most cases, have been presently following a drop the 'report and forget' policy. They should keep reporting till the logical outcome is achieved/reached." On many occasions, it is also seen that when the TV news camera is focused on a particular event, the degree of hyperactivity of the presenter is so high it looks as if the TV news channels have put the whole world in their pocket.

Programs for N.R.I.'s

The respondents also addressed a question on which news channels cover the news, views, and other programs related to N.R.I.'s. Surprisingly, a majority of them (Table 6) stated that none of the news channels really cover news about N.R.I.'s. About 24 percent of respondents suggested that all channels should have at least some programs that inform N.R.I.'s about various facilities on savings, investments, banking, real estate, etc. in India. It is their social and moral responsibility to inform N.R.I.'s about education courses in India, and the facilities and latest trends in education in India for their children. One respondent from Kuwait was critical about news channels. She stated that "news on underworld, e.g., Dawood [underworld don Dawood Ibrahim], is not the news for N.R.I.'s in the Gulf. These news channels must develop programs about Indian laborers' working and living conditions in the Gulf. Unfortunately, they do not give any good and realistic news about them."

Many of them argued that they pay subscription fees between 20,000 and 35,000 Indian rupees annually for the news and other channels, which is a substantial amount compared to what their counterparts in India pay. Still these news channels do not cover any news related to N.R.I.'s. There were suggestions that the government of India should start an exclusive channel devoted to N.R.I.'s.

Table 6: Responses on the Extent to Which Indian News Channels Cover News, Views, and Other Programs Particularly Related to N.R.I.'s

Regulating the News Channels

Another question asked to the respondents was whether the government of India should bring or modify existing laws to regulate TV news channels in the country. Table 7 shows that 75.7 percent of the respondents were in favor of bringing regulation. Those who were against bringing regulation argued that the regulation would impair the innovation and integration of programs of news channels. One prominent N.R.I. who held a very senior position in India and is now in Oman commented, "Not necessarily; it is just these channels have their roots established. With the competitions existing in the market, they have to remain accountable to the public, whether laws exist or not. They will continue to improve their standards and quality. Imposing them through statute will only curb their innovativeness and integrated functioning."

Furthermore, there were statistically significant differences among the respondents when the responses were analyzed by profession (p<0.01 level), by N.R.I. status (p<0.01 level), and by age group (p<0.01). Executives and managers were more in favor of regulating the news channels. At the same time, respondents who had been staying for a longer period in the Persian Gulf region and were older were also in favor of regulation.

Table 7: Perceptions of N.R.I.'s on Whether the Government of India Should Bring or Modify Laws in Order to Regulate News Channels to Make Them More Accountable to the Public (Analysis of Variance)

Other suggestions were as follows:

  • "Realize that investigative journalism involves more than just string operations."

  • "The focus on revenues from advertisement should be shifted to news and bringing more news to the doorsteps of the public."

  • "The coverage of political news should not be restricted to the mainstream political parties alone."

  • "Apart from politics, films, and sports, the coverage should be extended to developments in the fields of art, culture, science, literature, etc. since they also make news."

  • "The so-called reality shows peeping into private lives of individuals (even ordinary folks) is scandalous, is not journalism, and should be discouraged, if not altogether banned."

  • "The channels need advertisement revenue—but not at the cost of interruption every three to five minutes. In one hour, they can have 30 minutes uninterrupted coverage, 10 minutes advertisements run, and 20 minutes analysis. This is just an example. News has to be continuous with maximum one break for few seconds."

  • "The technical team must be equipped with the state of the art and must support the newsreaders. In certain live programs, we invariably see the audio signals of anchors at various cities or locations not reaching, whereas the video is visible (or vice versa)."

  • "The response from the anchors must be spontaneous and not wait for the readers' signals to reach them. The time gap for their response is irritating."

  • "The quality of impartial reporting must be enhanced."

  • "At no time should they telecast scenes that can only be viewed with people of good heart conditions."

  • "The compassionate feelings of the affected persons must be honored. The "flash" or "breaking news" items must be of some standard and national importance and not routine items."

  • "Avoid sensationalism at all costs."

  • "Curb on vulgar and violence clippings."

  • "More focus on positive news stories and more focus on younger generation issues."

  • "Where exactly we are failing and to highlight regularly?"

  • "News on women's education and development should be focused more. These are news channels and not entertainment channels. They should cut down Bollywood related programs, which do not offer any career development values to us."

  • "Stop making socially undesirable characters as national heroes. Less exaggeration or avoid undue importance given to politicians/political drama."

Conclusions and Implications

Non-resident Indians while staying abroad can update themselves about all the happenings in their motherland when they have access to satellite Indian TV news channels. The perceptions of N.R.I.'s from the Persian Gulf region show that the major news channels need to rethink their current program strategies. They believe that, baring NDTV, TV news channels by and large have not been strictly adhering to the cardinal principles of broadcasting. Consequently, they often fall into the vicious circle of providing news stories that may be tabloid, sensational, trivial, and stereotypical, not necessarily reflecting dynamism, and innovation. These characteristics may make their news and views program biased and less accurate. NDTV seems to be the only channel that has been following these cardinal principles to a large extent. However, Indian news channels seem to have failed in dealing with the issue of "treating controversial public issues in an impartial and dispassionate manner."

As TV news channels in India currently are considered to be entertainment-driven rather than public service oriented, perhaps they need to bring some reforms to their news programs, culture, and ethics that give a clear reflection on adhering to the cardinal principles of broadcasting. Every channel may also need to do an extensive research on different concepts and different themes to attract more viewers. Any modifications to the existing regulations that would make them more accountable to the public but without impairing their innovation and working freedom would be welcomed. They should resort to a fair commercial approach in their programs, which is healthy, innovative, and social-oriented. They should cut down on balloon-filling news and the overdose of cinema, fashion shows, and Page 3 reporting, etc.

The news channels really need worthy investment to derive qualitatively better coverage and interpretation of both socially relevant issues as well as scientific and educational issues. They should expand their reporting boundaries beyond the happenings in Bollywood and political circles and should cover unwanted and hidden corners of society and the world. As Nihal Singh, the well-known journalist, argued in an article, "It is time for Indian television to shape up and rank high in world ratings" (2006).

The news channels should start some news coverage programs for N.R.I.'s, say, three hours on a weekly basis. Alternatively, the government of India should start a separate TV channel exclusively meant to benefit N.R.I.'s as they have been playing a significant role in the economic development of the country.

References

Daily News and Analysis. 2005. "Now, a Counterview From the Accused." Dec. 18.

Exchange4media.com. 2003. "The Big Fight." May 9.

Expressindia.com. 2005. "Another Sting Shows M.P.'s Misappropriating M.P.L.A.D. Funds." Dec. 20.

Ghosh, Bhaswati. 2003. "The More the Merrier?" Chowk, June 6.

Indiantelevision.com. 2005. "Television Personality of 2005 Is Mr. Sting." Dec. 23.

Mahapatra, Devi Prasad. 2005. "Booming: Television News Channels in India." Ezinearticles.com, Oct.15.

Rao, Shakuntala, and Navjit Singh Johal. 2006. "Ethics and News Making in the Changing Indian Mediascape." Journal of Mass Media Ethics 21 (4): 286-303.

Singh, S. Nihal. 2006. "Breaking News!" The Tribune, May 9.

Vivek. 2006. "Brain-Dead Media." Avyakta (Hitagooj.blogspot.com), Dec. 25.

Yadav, Kiran, and Neha Sharma. 2006. "News Unbridled." The Financial Express, Nov. 19.

The authors are very grateful to all respondents and other people who extended their kind cooperation in this survey. Special thanks to Mr. Mani, from Oman, who offered valuable comments.

View the Worldpress Desk’s profile for Prem Lal Joshi.

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