By Abu Saleh
The punch line of the Telugu news channel, TV9, goes: ‘for a better society’. Since its inception, the channel seems to be really striving for a BETTER society! Today, it is one of the popular Telugu news channels and has started spreading its wings into other regional languages, too. For TRP, limelight, popularity, and so on, TV9 is ready to do almost everything: broadcasting soft porn, MMS in the name of news reports or whatever is required for publicity. If one just googles TV9 or searches on youtube, one will find a number of evidences of that kind. Problems crop up when these channels, devoted to creating ‘a better society’, start intervening in our personal life, like it recently did with NALSAR and the Central University of Hyderabad where it highlighted the university space and made disparaging comments about gay culture, partying, night out, and so on. Often the TV9 reports are controversial, discriminatory, and defamatory creating a negative impression.
On 20 August, 2013, TV9 Telugu aired a program: ‘UoH Student’s Night Out Mystery – A TV9 Special Investigation Report’. It showed male and female students roaming around, mingling with each other; the boys were seen enjoying alcohol, drugs, and so on at night. It kept on showing empty beer bottles. Further, it showed suggestively boys and girls, and used condoms. The report also talked of the degradation of ‘tradition’, ‘culture’, and ‘value’ etc. TV9 repeatedly broadcasted it throughout the day. Students started getting calls from their worried parents, relatives, and friends. Later, it appeared on youtube, too, and the video was shared in different social media and other sites.
After watching the report, the UoH campus community took it seriously. Students responded in social media about the misrepresentation of campus life. False allegations like portraying students as drug and sex addicts were seen as moral policing. Further, it led to a larger debate when the report suggested that the non-locals were damaging ‘culture’ here. The UoH fraternity became more concerned about the damage of the reputation of the university by this fabricated report. The UoH Student’s Union called for a protest and effigies of TV9 were burnt. Several other student organizations protested and collected signatures against TV9. Few people started an online petition with change.org. The issue was also taken to the UoH administration which promised to go to the court of law against it. As the students disliked the video on youtube and reported it as spam, the video got removed later on.
Now, the question is: What gives TV9 the right to invade someone’s privacy and personal life? It shows how the media ethics regarding truth, honesty, and privacy etc. is compromised in this report. People have questioned the source and intention of the news. Can’t one expect a little truth from the media? The students wondered if it was really a crime talking to a fellow student either male or female. Why can’t the students walk around at 11.30 pm, while the library is open up to 2 am and the reading room for whole night? When in the TV9 report, the night canteen becomes a place for drug-addicts and our hostels metamorphose into sites of anti-social activities, water bottles become wine-bottles, one can imagine the kind of ‘better society’ TV9 wants to usher in.
It’s a general tendency among people to blame the media. However the TV9 report shows that the media is unnecessarily interfering into others’ private life without their permission, broadcasting it, and then creating an alternative image. In other words, media is producing and simulating an alternative reality. This type of fabrication is a misrepresentation of the student community and a manipulation of the truth, as they did the same thing a few days back with the NALSAR students. This is what is called the ‘yellow journalism’.
If two students belonging to two different genders stand together, sit or speak to each other, it doesn’t mean that they are engaging in sexual acts. Such unethical news reporting also raises the question: Do these news channels really have or share any kind of social responsibility in reporting? Are they really serious about it? The channels like TV9 appear to be just a money-making ventures, where the reporters ask for a bribe threatening someone to demean.
This video, documenting the reaction of University of Hyderabad students, was sent to Cafe Dissensus by the author:
[Abu Saleh is a doctoral student at the Center for Comparative Literature, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.]
[Cafe Dissensus Blog is the blog of Cafe Dissensus Magazine.]
Youtube Link of the report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVXXhF9ktKI
A Video response by the UoH Students:
Students signed online petitions which got a huge response:
Report in the Deccan Chronicle:
A video of UoH students protesting against the TV9 shared on Facebook: