Gone are the days when entertainment meant Chitrahar — a medley of Bollywood songs — on the telly and an evening blockbuster every Sunday. Gone are those days when ‘fillers’ between programmes meant multi-coloured bars with a strange background score. Gone are the days when Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR)-delivered sanitised news tried to shape our views according to the wishes of the government of the day. When at last the sky was opened, news became more appealing with less stodgy news anchors and less unimaginative sets. But poor old DD stuck to its core competence: delivering news in a staid, monotonous fashion, as if the country is perpetually in mourning mode. No wonder DD soon became an ‘also ran’. Ditto for AIR.
But then you can’t keep a public broadcaster down for too long, can you? Almost two decades after private channels strengthened the market share and many among them went abroad to set up channels and the FM revolution swept India, Prasar Bharati has had a sudden urge to topple the leaders. And so it decided to follow another of our ‘high-fliers’: Air India (AI). Now along with AI, Doordarshan too has started looking for fresh faces and AIR for fresh voices. And both are looking for anchors who don’t speak “Hindi in an English accent and vice-versa”. That’s not all: we have been told that all appointments will be based on merit. So, pray, may we know what was happening earlier? One of the senior officers also gravely admitted that the “difference in news presentation compared with private enterprises is palpable.” Palpable? Ah, yes, thanks for telling us.
So here is the new deal in new India: The country’s largest employer, the government is hiring fresh and young faces for its various public sector units. Even as it does so, the other problems that dog these enterprises will be safely swept under the carpet. The real problem is not with the faces but the system. But then setting that right would need more than pretty faces. And that would be too cumbersome, isn’t it? And a dull and boring job.