Why 'M' is not really a word -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Why ‘M’ is not really a word

By: Ali Sultan

Whenever some controversy about the media erupts, everyone gathers around and bulldozes social networking, print and television with “what actually is the media’s role.”

My personal favourite is “we need to actually define things.”

The thesis is simple, defining anything is sheer bollocks. It means that if the definers had their say, phones would still be attached to wires and no one would actually consider how good the camera is before buying a mobile.

Everything is in constant flux and, if intelligence is used generously, then we should understand that we can and do change everything all the time.

Another addition to the kitchen sink, what people think of in moral terms and what people actually do are two separate ballparks. Take Facebook, for example. One click on an “add friend” means access, and even if it’s controlled access, its access to parts of one’s life nonetheless. Is snooping around on someone’s pictures, social behaviour, religious beliefs or even cooking habits really a moral thing to do? But we all love to snoop, don’t we? What we think and what we do is almost not the same thing.

Before going to the scene of the crime, let’s clear out some of the air. Any enterprise has to survive. The survival is simple. A person or a company offers some sort of product or service to others; if convinced of its benefit, the buyer will compensate, usually in monetary value, to the seller.

Television is also a ‘commercial’ enterprise. But television is the trickiest of markets because the transaction is not direct, and here is where Television Rating Points or TRPs come in.

TRPs are an audience measurement criterion that indicates the popularity of a television channel or programme. Television may be free, but it actually isn’t. Advertisers pay for programmes and TRPs are the most important tool for them. It shows them a measurement—a guidemap— which might not be 100 percent accurate, but still a measurement of what people are watching, and the more people will watch a programme, it’s a sure bet that it will generate an advertiser’s interest and, if a healthy number of advertisement is found, then it means it’s not only covering the programme’s cost, but also generating profit. The total reverse would be: a TV show is made, generates little or no ad interest and is cancelled (which is not the only reason they are, by the way.)

Television is about intelligence; it’s a game of chess, not right or wrong. Maya Khan’s ouster was not an intelligent move, an intelligent ouster would be people having stopped watching her show. Revolting against her and the likes of her doesn’t really mean a thing because intelligent TV executives, bosses and advertisers know that there is a large segment of an audience which believes in what she and many like her preach.

In the very opposite end of the spectrum, a TV channel and a particular TV host had a sizeable following because of an adult TV show which started after 12am. Where was the hue and cry there?

Television is also one of the most intricate mediums to see what democracy in its truest essence means. Morality, truth, puritan, sleazy or any myriad collection of buzzwords is not what an intelligent television executive (or even an audience) is looking for television to be; they are only boxes to be filled, flavours to be aroused in a 24-hour course dinner.

The question, therefore, is only about intelligence and nothing else; opponents sizing each other up before a boxing match. The audience, the “other TV show” the other TV channel is the opponent and always will be. It’s always the hustle, the tricking, of what an audience will watch, can watch, and television is always getting more and more intelligent; a blow or two doesn’t mean it will fall down. It only means that it will be careful not to get the next one.

Source: The News