Paid-news phenomenon constitutes a watershed in the evolution of democracy in India. It is an obvious extension of the TV news channels churning out back-to-back breaking news while frantically chasing TRPs. The media is no longer a mere intermediary, but an active agent and a powerful player. The infotainment industry is not just peripheral as earlier. Rather, it has acquired substantial muscle in steering political events.
The Constitution of India was crafted in relatively innocent times. That the proceedings of Lok Sabha would be telecast live was simply unthinkable. Adapting to technological changes, therefore, is a challenge now for the Indian democracy. Panel discussions over at TV studios are effective alternatives of Parliamentary debates. The more they are institutionalized and internalized the better.
Political parties running captive TV channels is an accepted practice now in many States. This being replicated at the national level is only a matter of time. Such transparency needs to be welcomed in the interest of integrity and fair-play. Citizens skilled in deciphering slants in reporting and bias in paid-news would then be the right antidote. [TNM]