SMJ, Kolaveri and Firstpost: Media that made news in 2012

by Dec 24, 2012

As we come to the last week of the year 2012, it’s time to do a wrap of the most memorable developments in media in the past year.

Satyamev Jayate: Without a doubt to both consumers and media watchers, Aamir’s Khan’s small-screen debut, Satyamev Jayate, was the biggest. I watched the entire first episode, ad breaks, warts and all, and wrote these words within 30 minutes of the program ending.

"In a nutshell, here’s the verdict: Satyamev Jayate works. If the shroud of secrecy on the content of the programme intrigued viewers to want to tune in, the show, once we’ve seen it, involves us enough to want to tune in again.
What’s the show about? It’s clear, now, that Satyamev Jayate will highlight problems in India that we are all familiar with. The construct will be along these lines: a) definition of a problem b) demonstration of the impact of the problem c) the reaction of the authorities to dealing with the problem d) Aamir’s suggested action e) call for viewers’ involvement and support." More on this article can be read here.

In three months, as the 13 week run of the show ended, my initial assessment was proven to be way off the mark. "As Satyamev Jayate went out with a whimper with the last episode, We the People, it’s an appropriate time to take stock of the programme. For a show that promised to bring out the truth and to ensure truth prevailed, it’s the ultimate underachiever. Small droplets of truth shone through, but the droplets never threatened to become a fall, let alone a downpour. It’s because TV , and not truth, prevailed.” A detailed analysis is here.


STAR BCCI cricket rights: Sticking to TV, the other stand-out development was the Rs 3850 crore paid by STAR to BCCI for the rights to cricket. "Is STAR’s punt a misplaced one?," we had asked in Firspost.

"STAR’s taken a brave, considered bet. Indeed, Multiscreen Media (MSM), who bid marginally less than STAR did (Rs 3,700 crore vis-à-vis STAR’s Rs 3,851 crore) could be kicking themselves for having missed out by just Rs 150 crores – that’s about Rs 1.5 crore per match. The bedrock of STAR’s bet (and indeed, MSM’s) is the change in the revenue pie for television in India thanks to the TRAI recommendations on digitization,” the article had continued.

Last week, we found ourselves to be almost prescient. “According to a report in The Times of India, ESPN HD and Star Cricket HD have hiked their monthly subscription charges on the eve of the India-Pakistan series from Rs 40 to Rs 142 and Rs 120 respectively,” we reported. "The rate hike is the first demonstration by STAR that it will attempt to rely less on advertisers and more on subscribers for their revenues – especially for premium, original, exclusive content,” we added.

Premium premier for Kamal Hassan: Filmstar Kamal Hassan beat STAR to it when it came to attempting to leverage the power of digital. “Kamal Hassan took a decision to release his upcoming film,Vishwaroopam, on DTH (direct-to-home) platforms eight hours prior to its release in theatres. In fact, Hassan is charging a whopping price of Rs 1,000 on the one-time screening that will be available on DTH networks. What will be interesting to watch is if viewers will barter the theatre experience for the drawing room sit-back. Even if tickets for three often add up to Rs 1,000, one is willing to pay for the big screen and not a small TV experience. The large flat-screen that, perhaps, Kamal is targeting is a luxury that few homes in India enjoy,” Firstpost had reported when Kamal Hassan made the announcement.

Zee-Jindal: The stinger stung: Still on TV, we saw, for the first time, the reverse sting, where a news TV channel was sting by an apparent intended victim, when Naveen Jindal alleged that Zee TV officials were demanding bribes for positive stories – and claims that the entire conversations were captured on video. “If Zee can be stung – as they seem to have been – it’s time for journalists to beware. Journalists will, henceforth, need to be acutely aware of their surroundings, have to have supreme confidence that there is no danger of their becoming victims of stings by people they are talking to or investigating. In a way, the Jindal sting will make Justice Katju a happy man. Willy-nilly, this incident helps the Press Council of India, insofar that it is a check on the possibility of journalists blackmailing citizens or companies into parting with cash or favours in exchange for damaging news being suppressed,” we had said at that time.

The Hindu-Times of India: The meek hit back: Who would have thought it – The Hindu playing eyeball to eyeball with The Times of India – and The Times of India blinks? “Much has been written – and, doubtless, much more will be written, about the new campaign for The Hindu, which takes The Times of India head on.

The overriding sentiment is captured by the editor of The Mint, R Sukumar, who editorialised, “One reason why I like the ads (and I will be honest about this) is editorial hubris. I see The Hindu as a paper that, like Mint, is fighting the good fight. "

Another is the aggression on display. For too long, the Mahavishnu of Mount Road has played safe and it is good to see the paper becoming aggressive about what it does and, more tellingly, what it thinks of The Times of India’s style of journalism,” we had reported in Firstpost.

A month ago, The Hindu moved on, away from The Times of India. “Behave yourself, India. The youth are watching,” says a in a new commercial. Take a look at the commercial here. What is The Hindu trying to say in this commercial – and to whom? Are they warning politicians that this is the state that they have reduced the parliament to, that what we see in the TVC is what India’s youth believe ‘proper parliamentary behaviour’ really is? After all, that is what they see on TV if they had watched clips of parliament in session during the past year or two. Or is The Hindu trying to say that the paper is watching them, on behalf of the youth of the country – and they will report on, analyse and criticise such behaviour?

Whatever the objectives of the pieces of communications, The Hindu has made one strong statement – that it is no longer meek – and is willing to put up a fight.

politics trump card game

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