24×7 news channels should be made 4×6

We have become a nation of “time-wasters”, by discussing way too many topics for way too much time. And then we forget the details of many topics, and in some cases, the topics themselves, as newer topics come up…Or new details come up in a particular topic, which make the earlier details irrelevant.

I am squarely blaming the electronic media (TV in common parlance) for this, and within this, the 24×7 news channels – in all languages. They have to fill 1440 minutes of airtime in a day and hence have to run very hard to get quality content to fill this time. Only repeating the content 3-4 times in a day also does not fill the time, given that there are only a limited number of news-worthy pieces. So, there are two things that these channels resort to :

1. Lower the bar of defining what’s news-worthy – hence we are subjected to news about the exact worth of a politician’s wife (50 Cr or infinite), whether Harbhajan slapped Sreesanth or gave a brotherly stroke, analysis of Antilla’s vastu plan, or if Madhuri Dixit has made a comeback already or is in the process of making a comeback ?

2. The other thing news channels do is to analyse ad infinitum and ad nauseum the intricate (useless) details and sub-details of most of the topics. Whether the CAG/AG/CBI/Law officer (I mean, what are these ?) saw the PMO (I mean, who’s this) looking at Coalgate files – I MEAN, WHO CARES ? What did this minister mean when he paused between lines – this will become clear by the time he wakes up tomorrow morning and clarifies – what’s the point in conjecturing till then ?

But then, there is the Business Model (how Porter, Prahlad, Ohmae have killed the simplicity of the entrepreneurial world by coining this draconian unromantic term). The News Channels run on advertisement revenues coming from sellers of products and services. To attract these advertisers, they need to attract large number of common viewers like you and me. To attract viewers, they need to show news which is news-worthy and that too for 24×7 hours (what if you have fought with your wife at 1am and want to watch TV at that hour ?).

Here’s where I think that there is a solution. If a News Channel runs only from 7-11pm every day (or for 6 days a week), they will be able to FILTER OUT THE NOISE FROM INTRA-DAY CONJECTURING, and consequently present crisp, analysed news from 7-11pm every day. The quality of news will be better since it will be more researched and will attract more audience. They can raise the advertising rates per second to get the same revenue in this 4-hour slot which they were getting through “spreading thin” over the day.

We will be spared the useless details of each news item, will be able to focus on few items which are important for the nation, and possibly, have a better functioning of our (liberally) democratic system.

We can use the TV to access the Internet for the rest of the day then :) ….but then, that’s another story !!

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