How Indian media has Transformed over years [Case Study]

Pratiksha Bajikar Pratiksha Bajikar
Mar 22, 2021 7 min read
How Indian media has Transformed over years [Case Study]

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Media as we know it has become an indispensable part of our lives. Without it, I think we’d barely sustain the economic and demographic environment lest having a path carved to move forward. The enormous sea of information that we have access to, is to the grace of this media.

We have come decades ahead from telegrams and fax messages which were the primary mediums of passing sensitive information to the world of the internet and smartphones where nothing really is ever sensitive.

The 24*7 media has taken us into the whirlpool of its headlines and breaking news and keeps us on our toes with the latest updates. Print media, Cinema, broadcasts, radio, and now the Gen Z favorite digital media are now the new improved, tech-savvy, and info-rich tools used to pass on information to the masses.

History of Indian Media
The Present of the Indian Media
Growth of Indian channels, and media outlets
How Indian media has changed the course of country’s politics and dynamics
Future of Indian Media
FAQ

History of Indian Media

Indian media is the largest and the oldest media that has seen itself unfold during the 18th century. The footfalls of pre-independence saw the birth of print media in 1780. Hicky’s Bengal Gazette was the first newspaper introduced under the British Raj.

As the fate of India unfolded in the hands of the colonizers there were several other newspapers that steadily made their presence established. This print media later proved to become a powerful weapon at the hands of freedom fighters who spread the message of independence to the masses. The Madras Courier (1785) and the Bombay Herald (1789) were the ones that followed in the early 18th century.

Pre-Independence

Pre-Independence saw a multitude of print media founders support and aggregate the freedom struggle. Mirat-ul-Akbar ( a Persian Journal) by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Rast Goftar by Dadabhai Naoroji, Kesari by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Indian Opinion by Mahatma Gandhi were some of the prominent newspapers that took responsibility to encourage masses to come forward for the freedom movement.

After Independence

Even after Independence, the print media was dominated by English newspapers. Firstly, because of the exalted position of the language and secondly because of the Morse code on typewriters which were difficult for vernacular languages. Steadily, Indian languages rose to the occasion and started printing their own press.

Indian press witnessed its first-ever revolt when the (then) Prime Minister Indira Gandhi announced a nationwide emergency during 1975-1977. This has set a precedent for how nations should not be treating their press. This suspended basic civil liberties-press being among several others.

The Draconian law

The Draconian law under the government threatened and arrested anyone who reported against the tyranny. The 21 month period of emergency had the Indian media on its leash and the publications had to run their content through a Chief Press Advisor before publishing.

Radio broadcasting was first initiated in 1927 but became a state-owned department in 1930. The ministry of broadcasting and information then held the apparatus including Doordarshan, the first Indian Television channel. It is one of two statutory bodies of the Indian Public Broadcaster Prasar Bharati.

Doordarshan
Doordarshan

Indian Cinema

The Indian Cinema dates back to 1913 when Dadasaheb Phalke, a scholar on Indian languages and culture, pioneered the motion picture industry by producing the first full-length motion picture “Raja Harishchandra”. Indian cinema has been tested in many waters to become Bollywood today. Today, India is the second-largest producer of movies in the world.

Indian cinema with respect to its viewers has been very protective of the content and subject matter that is shown to the masses. India holds very dearly to its religious and social-political views. Indian audiences are still not very accepting of mature and sensitive topics such as same-sex relationships, casteism, and politics.

There have been excellent filmmakers who have tried to carve out these subjects keeping in mind the sensitivity of the Indian audience. We are yet to reach the maturity mark as a collective audience when it comes to raw and unfiltered content.

Indian media
Indian media

The Present of the Indian Media

The media and entertainment industry has grown exponentially over the past few decades. Today, with more than 118000 registered publications for newspapers and periodicals and makes India the second-largest country in newspaper consumption.

Television Media

India has 850 TV channels across all spoken languages with 197 million households having television sets in use. Every language in the Indian subcontinent has its own set of channels of entertainment. Colors, Zee, Star are some of the leading networks spread pan India covering news and entertainment in all the main languages.

India is currently witnessing the exit of single-screen theatres as major multiplex players like Cinepolis, INOX, PVR, and Carnival Cinemas have taken over the screenings. India has lost about 12% of single-screen theatres due to the novel corona Virus outbreak. These theatres are unlikely to return to business and may be taken over by multiplex chains.

OTT Platforms in India

The Over-the-top (OTT) platforms have been around since 2008. But their viewership rose significantly when we were forced into our homes for almost a year thanks to the pandemic. OTT platforms were devoid of censorship and operated pan India since the internet has no geographical barriers.

Today OTT platforms in India have valued at a revenue of Rs 40,000 crore with 40 mainstream OTT platforms running under the Indian umbrella. Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix India, SonyLiv, Alt Balaji, Voot are some of the established OTT platforms which are giving the DTH industry a run for its money.

Growth of Indian channels, and media outlets

Currently, the country consumes media through platforms such as TV, OTT, Print, VFX, Radio broadcasts, Gaming, and digital advertisements. India’s Ad revenue is forecasted to expand at a CAGR of 4.3% between 2021-2024.

Due to the rapid growth in the number of internet users, the digital avenues are looking at a projection to reach a CAGR of 26% by 2024 including print and TV platforms, making India the six-largest demographic with an industry revenue worth $2.9 Billion.

Digital advertising revenue in India from financial year 2008 to 2020
Digital advertising revenue in India from financial year 2010 to 2020

How Indian media has changed the course of country’s politics and dynamics

News Media

With news giants like NDTV, CNBC, Aaj Tak, and ABP networks, India has around 892 news channels. These media houses have gained power over the course and have divided the Indian audiences into two wings.

Some of the media houses are owned by the wings themselves. The politics and propaganda attribute to the success and TRPs of these media houses. A free press is becoming a serious worry in terms of authenticity and is lacking awareness.

In recent times, journalism has cost a few passionate journalists their lives, and freedom of expression which one of the basic human rights in our constitution is ceasing to have much value. The political dominance over the free press is evident and intimidating.

India's Freedom status

India’s status has been degraded from ‘Free” to “Partially Free” by the NGO Freedom House due to a “crackdown on expressions of dissent by the media, academics, civil society groups, and protesters”.

According to the Freedom in the World report, 2020, India’s score has decked to 67 from 70 out of 100. This is extremely serious and unnerving as we are losing the democratic status that we’ve held on since our independence.

“Under Modi, India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests at the expense of its founding values of inclusion and equal rights for all,” the report said.

The free reign enjoyed by the digital media became a recent target of the nationalist government when it introduced new Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 (Rules) for the functioning of OTT platforms. The new code of ethics needs to classify the content based on the viewer’s age, theme, tone, and impact.

Future of Indian Media

“With India’s decline to Partly Free,” the report said, “less than 20 percent of the world’s population now lives in a Free country, the smallest proportion since 1995.” The current state of media and entertainment is a little gloomy and seems to be surrounded by the clouds of arbitrary laws and coercion.

The growth in terms of numbers is truly exponential. With OTT and Social Media platforms, media is pushing itself towards its highest potential. Content is King: but what if this content is under constant surveillance and the freedom of expression is compromised.

The future is blurry for Indian Media and entertainment with an arbitrary wave riding its proficiency. Will India go back to being “Free” again? Or will it succumb to the political propaganda and lose its free press. These are the questions that are doing rounds of discussions among the intellectuals of our country.

FAQ

Who owns print media?

ThePrint is an Indian online newspaper. It is supported by Printline Media Pvt Ltd, a company headquartered in New Delhi.

Who owns NDTV in India?

New Delhi Television Ltd. is an Indian news media company that owns and operates the broadcast news channels of NDTV India and NDTV 24x7.

Who is the first woman journalist in India?

Homai Vyarawalla was India's first woman photojournalist.

Conclusion

Indian media is a mess and we need to learn to distinguish between faux news and genuine journalism. As citizens, it is our responsibility to maintain the status of a democratic nation on the world front.

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