The Many Subterfuges of Main­stream Me­dia

Consumer Voice - - Cover Story -

A highly de­tailed re­port on the is­sue of paid news in me­dia, which iron­i­cally found lit­tle cov­er­age in most main­stream me­dia, was is­sued by the min­istry of in­for­ma­tion and broadcasting in 2013. It ex­am­ined the grow­ing ten­dency of me­dia com­pa­nies in the coun­try to pass off ad­ver­tise­ments as le­git­i­mate news con­tent. This is ob­vi­ously done at the cost of de­ceiv­ing the read­ers and cre­at­ing a false nar­ra­tive

The re­port brought to light the multi-crore shad­owy in­dus­try born as a re­sult of the con­ver­gence of ed­i­to­rial, ad­ver­tis­ing, PR and lob­by­ing in­dus­tries. The re­port also demon­strated how dif­fi­cult it was to get in­for­ma­tion re­lated to in­come and ad rev­enue of me­dia groups. A 2010 re­port by a sub­com­mit­tee of the Press Coun­cil of In­dia (PCI) was scathing in its take­down of the epi­demic of paid news, the un­scrupu­lous tac­tics of ad sell­ing, and the un­der­hand deal­ings with politi­cians for favourable cov­er­age. The com­mit­tee it­self re­fused to re­lease the full re­port at that time—which did no good to its own cred­i­bil­ity. How­ever, the re­port man­aged to come out a year later thanks to the dogged ef­forts of a few (in­clud­ing the afore­men­tioned Paran­joy Guha Thakurta). Most main­stream me­dia sim­ply chose to ig­nore the re­port. The re­sponse of most TV chan­nels to a ma­jor takeover deal such as Net­work 18 is also con­spic­u­ous by its strik­ing ab­sence. Would those TV chan­nels and news­pa­pers re­main mute had RIL de­cided to buy Fu­ture Group, Ola, or Flip­kart? One thinks not. Even the Ed­i­tors’ Guild of In­dia had no com­ment on this de­vel­op­ment.

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