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BW Businessworld

Television Studies

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The 12 papers in the book have tried to analyse  the distinguishing marks of television programming and the making of its audience during different phases of television in India. The programming of Indian television has been characterised by news, serials and cinema and its associated items like music.
News and the news channels have been quite distinctive of India’s television culture with the proliferation of news channels in the 1990s, as pointed out by Nalin Mehta, due primarily to the available satellite facility and also the new economic policies just been implemented. While this made news more accessible, it was soon turning the whole enterprise into what one saw as infotainment: information losing to the demand of entertainment by different segments of the television industry.
Daya Krishna Thussu and Nalin Mehta see the new market forces responsible for such a situation in their analysis of the television news channels. A critical point made by Nilanjana Sengupta in her analysis of the Bengali news channels is that both in texture and effect, the regional news programme is different from the national news programme: there was intimacy and informality which defined the local culture.
Indian television studies in India has only picked up in the 1990s, while the US had very influential intellectual traditions already in place. Arvind Rajagopal and Purnima Mankekar, for example, draw from this richness to argue for new methodological innovations in television studies in India. Both of them had earlier worked analysing the impact of serials in making of a TV audience, as well as spreading of some kind of ideology that the serials underlined. They now suggest a new methodology to carry out sophisticated analysis of the influence of TV programmes, not merely in terms of cause and effect relationship but rather through the use of some new tropes — affect, as something not necessarily part of the cause-effect spectrum.
While this book brings a discussion on many issues of Indian television in its 50 years of existence, the more serious discussion will take place only when scholars analyse the spread, impact and working of television in India in all its regions and languages.
Batabyal is Associate Professor with Centre for  Media Studies, JNU
(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 12-01-2015)