Are the Members of Parliament truly outraged or are TV channels behind the furore, asks Payal Khandelwal
The recently launched reality show ‘Sach Ka Saamna’ on STAR Plus has been creating quite a lot of buzz and media interest lately.
The show is based on the popular US format ‘Moment of Truth’ and has become quite popular with viewers.
One of the reasons that this show is getting a lot of eyeballs is because of the publicity it has managed to garner after questions were raised in the Parliament about the controversial nature of the show.
While this is definitely publicity for the show, the question that needs to be asked is whetherthe channels behind these kind of “controversial” reality shows are staging this uproar to get more eyeballs.
Campaign India spoke to some media professionals about the latest trend that is emerging. One of the findings was that controversy has always been an intrinsic part of reality shows and it is only now that it is reaching another level by occupying prominent position in newspapers and TV channels and eventually in the parliament.
“The content on the reality shows itself is not going to be clean. ‘Sach ka Saamna’, for example, is about getting on the edge. They ask someone to reveal something which he or she wouldn’t reveal to partner or parents. Also, for example, the episode where Vinod Kambli speaks about Sachin Tendulkar made headlines and later, Kambli and Sachin shaking hands also made headlines. Kambli had his two minutes of fame as far as PR was concerned. Moreover, a show like ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamwar’ is really working for the channel because of its controversial nature. No one wants to see Rakhi Sawant in films but she is hugely popular on TV now,” says Hans Mathews, partner, Mindshare.
T Gangadhar, managing director, Mediaedge:cia echoes the same thoughts. He says, “Reality shows, traditionally, have always raised controversy.” He cites examples of reality shows that have been launched in the past including Bigg Boss, MTV Roadies and Splitsvilla. Gangadhar is of the opinion that controversy was like oxygen for reality shows.
When it comes to the question of ethics and whether channels are right in creating controversies and fuelling controversies which have been created, most professionals feel that there wasnothing wrong with it. No one wants to point fingers at the channels but they believe in the thought that any publicity is good publicity. “As long as the channels are following some ethics and it doesn’t harm anybody’s interest or any particular group in society, I see no problem in channels using controversy to their advantage,” feels Shripad Kulkarni, chief operating officer, Allied Media. Says LS Krishnan, chief executive officer, Mudra Radar, “Hype is a part of reality shows and it is legitimate to create hype so long it does not contravene the laws of the land.”
Hans Mathews, partner, Mindshare
“Reality shows are basically popular across the world because they are slightly on the edge. It is about how you define the edge. The popularity is based on how the personalities clash or interact on the shows. Many dailies including MiD DAY and various news channels have been covering reality shows during the last three or four days. And what is covered by channels and newspapers generally also tends to go to the Cabinet because they have nothing else to talk about. I feel that bringing it up in the Parliament is a waste of time. The channels are doing it to tap eyeballs obviously and there is nothing wrong with it.”
Shripad Kulkarni, COO, Allied Media
“The channels could well be doing this. However, I don’t want to get into if they are or not. It is, according to me, perfectly fine if they are using such publicity gimmicks.These are intrusive, effective and impactful strategies to create more buzz around the program. I think it’s absolutely fine and fair on the channels’ part. It is a game plan which any marketer worth his salt wouldn’t mind getting into.”
T Gangadhar, managing director, MEC
“I don’t know if the channels are promoting it or not but any publicity is good publicity. I think this can help fuel curiosity amongst viewers. According to me, the Vinod Kambli incident was a complete strategy. It was clear from the way they wanted to launch it. An element of it was being deliberately played in media. Reality shows need to have spikes in the programming (something dramatic that happens). It is about how you keep fuelling various conspiracy theories. I don’t know if it being talked about in the parliament is created by channels, but they certainly don’t mind it and in some cases, they would keep fuelling it.”
Nikhil Rangnekar, exec. director, India – West, Starcom Worldwide
“I wouldn’t know if the channels are behind this and would not like to comment if the channels are actually paying for it or not. I have absolutely no idea. This is something that no one can probe. They could be doing it or they could not be doing it. Moreover, politicians who really want publicity could be doing it on their own as well. Thus, without any concrete proof, I don’t think we should really blame channels and accuse them of inciting all this.”
L S Krishnan, CEO, Mudra Radar
“Whether channels are behind this or not is something which I can comment upon. However, reality shows capitalise on the voyeuristic needs of the viewers and is a reflection of the society that we live in. It is hypocritical to assume that these thoughts / desires do not exist. More so it is upto the contestants to understand the implications of their actions amongst their sphere of influence. Why blame the channel when millions of homes are switching on the TV? I am sure they are seeing the program amongst family members. It is a choice that both the viewers and the contestants are making!”