As the year comes to an end, I wish I could say that I'm in a cheery, festive mood, happy to do look back at what happened on TV in 2012 and at what we'd like to see in 2013. But given the events of the last ten days or so, there isn't much to be happy about.
After watching news channels almost continuously for the last many days, I'd merely like to point out that Headlines Today and CNN IBN were the best of the lot and NDTV 24x7 was the most disappointing. In fact, on Saturday (22 December), when peaceful protesters were getting lathi charged and tear gassed and hit by water cannons without any provocation whatsoever (we shouldn't forget that the 'violence' -indulged in by a small section of the crowd - occurred only the next day on Sunday), NDTV 24x7 often seemed to be on the wrong side of the fence.
I hope channels such as Headlines Today and CNN IBN will continue to report aggressively on the issue of women's safety and the Delhi gangrape in particular. Can things get too strident sometimes? Maybe. But there are some causes where you need to shout, not whisper. Otherwise no one will hear you, leave alone listen to you.
Earlier in the year, actor Aamir Khan too did his bit to highlight serious issues such as female foeticide through his ambitious show, Satyamev Jayate. That was a first for Indian TV and though there was some criticism, it did create discussion and debate, particularly online (though the TAM ratings didn't reflect the tremendous buzz). And according to news reports, Satyamev Jayate is coming back for a second season.
This brings me to two issues which I've been guilty of flogging in the past. But I do believe they need to be implemented soon. The first is a ratings system which takes into account digital platforms. Today, a significant number of people watch TV shows online, but their preferences don't find any reflection in the ratings. Calculating a show's popularity by monitoring people who watch it on their TV sets in real time is outdated - it's like monitoring communication between people by looking at the number who post letters to each other.
Secondly, the matter of seasons. It's old news now that the first casualty of long-running daily soaps is quality. Reality shows in India have embraced the season concept, but serials have yet to do so. Colors seems to be showing the way here: Its serial Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha took a break and is now reportedly coming back for a second season. And Anil Kapoor's take on 24, also to be shown on Colors, will have seasons too. Other TV channels, please take note.