No Kollywood superstars on Kerala channels

Movies of Mohanlal and Mammootty make TV channels poorer by 3.5 crore per movie while Dileep and Prithviraj films ranges from Rs 2.75 to 3 crore.

Come Onam, Malayalis may have to do without the standard filmi fare on television and go back to playing traditional games like Thalappanthukali or Thumbithullal!

For long, it has become a practice, especially in the cities and towns, to sit before the idiot box and spend the festive holidays watching relatively new blockbuster movies of superstars.

However, with the Kerala Television Federation (KTF) announcing its decision not to buy any superstar movies henceforth, citing the enormous amounts charged for satellite rights, this is bound to change.

But if you think the television industry is going to be in tatters without cinema, not all agree with that prognosis.

“Almost 80-90% of the entertainment content in television comes from the film industry and the huge dependence of television on the film industry is pretty evident.

But if KTF doesn’t budge from its decision not to buy superstar movies, it will be the film industry that will suffer,” explains noted actress Praveena, who has straddled both big and small screens.

Speaking about how television keeps the film industry afloat, she points out how it is the previews and trailers of the new releases on TV that help draw the crowds to the theatres.

She says, “Films reach television in the guise of mimicry, comedy skits, and music videos or even in the form of artistes.

Similarly, production, distribution and exhibition of feature films are supported by the television industry. Together, both the media have established their co-existence and financial interdependence over the years. Today, TV helps keep the film industry going.”

The Kerala Television Federation secretary Baby Mathew argues, “Television and film industry should go hand in hand as both heavily depend on each other.

Charging exorbitant rates for the superstar movies has put us in a very difficult situation, that is why we have now decided to stop buying movies that come for anything more than Rs 3 crore.

” As per the KTF, movies of Mohanlal and Mammootty make them poorer by 3.5 crore per movie while Dileep and Prithviraj films ranges from Rs 2.75 to 3 crore.

With the KTF announcing after their recent meeting that the television industry can’t pay the price for the escalating budgets in the film industry, Milan Jaleel, the President of Kerala Film Producers Association, retorts that it is not the film industry but the television industry which actually brought on this crisis.

He says, “With the advent of too many channels in Malayalam, the competition among these channels to secure the satellite rights for superstar movies increased and the satellite right rates suddenly rose from Rs 50 lakh to about Rs 3.5 crore.

” Describing films an indispensable entity for the television industry, Milan says the few television channels who have raised the banner of revolt cannot afford to ignore superstar movies, irrespective of the cost.

He even tips off, “With many channels getting ready to launch, I am sure the rates for the channel rights are going to increase further.” (courtesy: Keerthy Ramachandran & Deccan Chronicle)

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Incredible India: Andhra teachers asked to ‘train’ students in abuses

Imagine a teacher writing filthy abuses on the blackboard and explaining their meanings to students.

Shocked? This is exactly what schoolteachers in Andhra Pradesh are being told to do. A handbook designed by the state government to train schoolteachers has a peculiar chapter that has left teachers blushing.

This chapter suggests that they should make students list out women-specific filthy words or abuses, generally used as slang in society, and explain their meaning.

The offending chapter in question, Discrimination in culture”, says: ‘List out such words and ask students to write them down along with their meanings. Explain why most of these vulgar words are related to sex of women, their chastity and doubting their fidelity. Tell the students whether such gender abuses are there in other countries, too and what they are.’

The handbook, which was distributed among teachers at a training programme across the state recently, basically deals with gender discrimination in society and how teachers should educate their students on eradicating this evil.

It was prepared with the support of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Rajiv Vidya Mission (earlier Sarva Siksha Abhiyan) programme and Jana Ganam, a voluntary organisation.

The handbook states the chapter’s objective was to make students understand why discrimination against women in the socio-economic fields has been reflected in culture.

Several teachers at the training programmes expressed the view that though the handbook was designed with a good objective, it will be highly embarrassing for them to talk about vulgar words.

‘It is ridiculous. How can we mention vulgar abuses before students, leave alone telling them to write them down and explain their meanings?’ G. Rama Devi, a state teachers union member, said.

Senior teacher L. Ravinder Rao said those who designed the chapter might not have taken the teachers’ sensitivities into consideration. (courtesy: A. SRINIVASA RAO  & MailOlineIndia)

Vernacular Journalists dominated Thiruvananthapuram Press Club Awards

The Thiruvananthapuram Press Club has announced the media awards for 2009 and 2010.

The following are the winners for the awards in 2009: the M. Sivaram Award for best news series went to R. Samban of ‘Desabhimani’ for his series on the decision against appointing pregnant women in State Bank of India.

The K.C. Sebastian award for political reporting went to the feature ‘Vibhagiyathayude Varikuzhi’ which appeared in ‘Malayala Manorama‘ and was written by Sujith Nair, Sanjay Chandrasekhar, Anil Kurudath, Jayachandran Elankath, R. Krishnaraj, and D. Jayakrishnan.

The K. Madhavan Kutty award for best English feature went to Reema Narendran of ‘The New Indian Express‘ for her story on ‘Kids of silence.’

The V. Krishnamoorthy award for the best English story went to Pradeep Pillai’s story on ‘Kerala government’s war against a war hero’ published in ‘The New Indian Express.’

The Minerva Krishnankutty award for the best human interest photo went to K. Sasi of ‘Chandrika’ and the news photography award to Samir A. Hameed of ‘Malayala Manorama.’

T.K. Sujith won the cartoon award. The Swadesabhimani award for layout and designing went to the front page of the Kozhikode edition of ‘Madhyamam‘ on July 19.

For year 2010

The following are the awards for 2010: the M. Sivaram award for news feature went to the feature ‘Dourbhagyam’ on lottery published in the ‘Malayala Manorama.’ It was written by G. Vinod and Sanjay Chandrasekhar.

The K.C. Sebastian award for political reporting went to V. Jayakumar of ‘Kerala Kaumudi‘ for his story on P.J. Joseph‘s decision to leave the Left Democratic Front.

The V. Krishnamoorthy award for the best English story went to Arjun Reghunath’s story on the Chief Vigilance Commissioner‘s links in the palmolein case published in ‘The New Indian Express.’

The G. Venugopal award for adventurous reporting went to Prajesh Sen of ‘Madhyamam.’

The Minerva Krishnankutty award for best human interest photo went to C.B. Pradeep Kumar of ‘Varthamanam.’ The news photography award went to Samir A. Hameed of the ‘Malayala Manorama.’

T.K. Sujith of ‘Kerala Kaumudi’ was selected for the cartoon award.

The Swadesabhimani award for best layout and designing went to the Kozhikode edition of ‘Madhyamam’ for the way it presented stories of Communist Party of India(Marxist) leader Jyoti Basu’s death on January 18, 2010.

58-year-old ‘Vijaya Vani’ challenged by the ‘Old Lady Of Bori Bunder !!

BCCL sues VRL Chief Vijay Sankeshwar over use of newspaper title Vijaya

Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd ( BCCL), publishers of India‘s largest selling English newspaper – The Times of India, is moving to stem competition in the Kannada newspaper market which commands advertising revenues of Rs 500 crore.

The media giant has moved court against businessman and former newspaper baron Vijay Sankeshwar, who is attempting to return to the business five years after he sold India’s second-largest Kannada daily to BCCL.

ACHIEVEMENT: Governor Rameshwar Thakur (right) presenting the Sir M. Visvesvaraya Award to Vijay Sankeshwar of VRL Group of Companies at the FKCCI founder’s day celebrations in Bangalore . Union Minister of State for Planning M.V. Rajasekharan is seen.

Sankeshwar on Sunday re-launched a 58-year-old title, Vijaya Vani. He owned Vijaya Karnataka before selling out to BCCL. It is now staging a comeback in to the Kannada newspaper space, after the five-year no-compete clause came to an end in March this year.

His newspaper, Vijaya Vani, has three editions in Bangalore, Mangalore and Hubli. It will be expanded to seven more locations in the next two months with an initial investment of Rs 125 crore.

“The title and the newspaper Vijaya Vani has been in existence since 1954 in Tumkur district of Karnataka as a district tabloid. We acquired the title during July 2011 and re-launched it as a broad-sheet with multi-editions across Karnataka on April 1, 2012. If the Times Group did not have objections to the title for the past so many years, it is surprising that they have objections now all of a sudden. The word Vijaya is a common name and no-one can own it. The case against us cannot sustain. “There are few other newspapers in Karnataka with the titles Praja Vani, Samyukta Karnataka and Udaya Vani which has some overlap with our and the BCCL title, but we co-exist,”

said Sankeshwar.

Vijay Sankeshwar also owns VRL Logistics, which has a topline of Rs 1,000 crore, is India’s largest operator of cargo trucks and among the top fleet owners of passenger buses plying between cities and towns. It is estimated that VRL Logistics owns a fleet of over 2,000 vehicles.

The Kannada newspaper market includes Praja Vani owned by ‘The Printers (Mysore) Ltd’ who also publish English daily Deccan Herald, the second largest English daily in Karnataka. The advertising revenues of the Kannada newspaper market is around Rs 500 crore and all the Kannada dailies put together sell around two million copies daily.

Pudhia Thalaimaru: A refreshing change

In just two months after its launch, an independent television news channel in Tamil gallops to number one position in viewership. It has more to its credit than merely warding off political affiliations, writes MAYA RANGANATHAN

In television-saturated Tamil Nadu, news that Pudhia Thalaimaru (New Generation) television channel has emerged as a leading news channel in the region in about two months went largely unnoticed. In a state where television news has come to mean propaganda with political parties launching their own channels, where “objectivity” amounts to simply not believing any source entirely, and where sectarian interests dictate news coverage, the success of an “apolitical” television channel is something to write home about.

The SRM Group launched Pudhiya Thalaimurai, with the tagline “unmai udanukudam” (truth instantaneously) in August 2011, buoyed by the success of the weekly Tamil magazine by the same name which was launched in 2009. In a press meet ahead of the launch, managing director of the group T R P Sathyanarayana had reportedly said that the channel would seek to fill the void in the regional televisionscape for a channel that had no political leanings, that provided more than film-based entertainment and that was as informative as it was entertaining targeting the youth.

At first glance, it can be said that the channel has succeeded in its aim. The success is particularly significant, as it came at a time when the only other apolitical news channel in the region, the NDTV-Hindu, launched in 2009, was floundering and had accumulated Rs. 20 crore in losses. It has since changed hands.

Perhaps, the initial success of Pudhiya Thalaimurai lies in that the SRM group chose a time when there are alternatives to the cable connection in the form of DTH (direct-to-home) television, which is of late becoming more popular owing to the “cable war” that the DMK and the AIADMK are embroiled in. Speaking in another context, Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) chairman Sashikumar pointed out that first tussle between the DMK and AIADMK in the nineties was over the issue of establishing the huge network required for cable television. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s announcement of the setting up of Arasu Cable Corporation is a measure to combat the overarching reach of Sun TV and the monopoly Sumangali Cable Vision enjoyed in the State. It is said that more and more viewers, tired of their favourite channels being blacked out in the political war, are turning to DTH which only costs marginally more. Interestingly, the government also imposed a 30 per cent entertainment tax on DTH which has been stayed by the Madras High Court.

But Pudhiya Thalaimurai has more to its credit than warding off political affiliations. The periodic news bulletins are interspersed with talk-shows, discussions, news features, district round-ups that attempt to present information unlike the other Tamil television channels. For instance, “konjam soru, konjam varalaru” (A bit of food and a bit of history) traces the origin of items in the Tamil cuisine while “Yuppieskku mattum illai” (Not just for the yuppies) attempts youth-talk that is not contrived. Its programming thus differs drastically from that of other channels that have more or less followed the pattern set by the commercially-successful Sun TV. In terms of salary packages it offers, it is said to be competitive.

Its presenters are young, dressed neither in the formal DD style nor the “loud” style of Sun TV. They are like everyday youth that one gets to spot on Chennai roads dressed in decent casuals speaking a Tamil that is neither classical nor Anglicised. It is perhaps for the first time that Tamil viewers get to hear the news delivered in a conversational tone, devoid of the particular intonation pioneered by Sun TV, copied by other channels and parodied in Tamil cinema. The sets are reminiscent of The NDTV-Hindu where the television newsroom, complete with staff walking around, is seen in the background. Interestingly, the news team from the NDTV-Hindu seems to have relocated to Pudhiya Thalaimurai.

Its news segment also differs in terms of content and not just for the perspectives that it takes. The focus is more on social issues, which also helps it to steer clear of political leanings. Its young reporters are dressed in salwar kameez and jeans. Unlike other Tamil channels, it covers more than the regional and political and has a fair amount of information about the national and international which has so far been relegated to the English news channels. Pudhiya Thalaimurai’s success turns on its head the assumption that Tamil viewers are not interested in anything that is not associated with “Tamil” and in its attempt to redefine “Tamilness.”

It is, however, a little early to predict if it will set trends the way that Sun TV has. While Sun remains the undisputed leader in entertainment in the region, the success of Pudhiya Thalaimurai has had an effect on Sun TV, if sources are to be believed. It has apparently caused a rethink on Sun TV policies, including Maran’s dictum that it is the organisation and not the individual that should be projected. But changes, if any, are yet to become apparent.

The channel, however, is not without its detractors. Preceding reports of the channel topping the list of news channels in Tamil Nadu, there were reports that Pudhiya Thalaimurai was far from “objective,” the criticism stemming from the seemingly changing stand on Koodankulam nuclear plant. Its “political-correctness” has been seen as an attempt to offend none and appease all. It remains to be seen if it is able to tread the tightrope when faced with a crisis. After all, the SRM group has a finger in almost every business pie. It is when one of its interests is affected that its resolve to remain apolitical will be tested. Till then, it is a welcome fare for the Tamil viewers.

(courtesy: MAYA RANGANATHAN & THE HOOT)

How a small newspaper registered its protest

Stories of newspapers running blank editorials and news columns during the censorship era of the Emergency in the mid-1970s are legion.

But in this day and age, when space is calculated in square centimetres?

Star of Mysore, the 35-year-old evening newspaper from Mysore, ran this front-page on March 3 to protest the murderous assault on journalists by lawyers in Bangalore.

A front-page editorial noted grimly:

 “The Fourth Estate is the new target.

“In the new resurgent India, the media has played its role in exposing the wrongs done to this nation by its own people and has given voice to the weak. The Press, the fourth pillar of democracy, has so far kept check on the three other powerful pillars—the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary—and has done so in the interest of keeping the citizenry of this nation informed and to get it involved in national issues.

“This success of the media in getting people involved in issues that concern the nation is what has made the other three pillars uncomfortable…. A media that helps create awareness among the citizenry making it pro-active is not in the interest of the powerful in the other three pillars of democracy. And so, on March 2, while a certain section of lawers went on a thrshing spree on media persons, the police stood like helpless bystanders.”

Image: courtesy Star of Mysore

A blank editorial, a black editorial & a footnote

When Indira Gandhi introduced media censorship as part of the Emergency in 1975, Indian newspapers ran blank editorials as a form of protest.

The Kannada newspaper Vijaya Karnataka, belonging to The Times of India group, runs a blank (and black) editorial today, in protest against what happened in the State legislative assembly on Monday, during the trust vote moved by the chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

And in white type set on 60% black, editor Vishweshwar Bhatwrites this small footnote at the bottom:

“The unseemly occurrences in the assembly on Monday should make every citizen bow his head in shame. The manner in which our elected representatives behaved is unpardonable. They have dealt a deadly blow to democracy. While criticising this, we symbolically represent the silent outrage of the people in this form.”

 

 

(Courtesy: Churumuri)