On the stray occasion that I turned on the TV, which happened to be last night, here’s what I got to see.
This is a leading GEC and it is the prime slot of a re-enacted crime series. What’s happening is something like this…
A young married bride is cornered by her ‘evil’ in-laws. She is being interrogated. The subject of this harassment is that her bedsheet from her first wedding night is ‘spotless’. Which means that she was probably ‘soiled’ before marriage. In order to test her piousness, she is being made to hold a searing hot iron rod. If she doesn’t burn, she’s ‘pure’. We all know which way that’s going isn’t it?
Elsewhere, a bunch of women of the house are gathered around the kitchen wondering how to get rid of the ‘shraap’ of the snake or fly or mongoose (whatever, I didn’t bother to wait and hear) which has befallen upon their household, and on yet another channel, a couple of so-called educated women are silently plotting against one another because one has got a better sari colour than the other.
I’m regretting the moment I decided to turn on the telly. My daughter has gone back to watching a very interesting TedEd video on YouTube and I’m logging to one of those apps which are making original internet content. I stream it from my phone to Apple TV and my TV set becomes a giant screen of immensely engaging content. Far more interesting for me, short and sweet, and I have hundreds of videos to choose from, which I can watch as and when I choose.
After all, I have to make the most use of my unlimited Wi-Fi don’t I? And at that moment, I suddenly realize that my yearly cable subscription is going down the gutter…exactly like the quality of cable TV programming I am getting to watch nowadays. My daughter and her friends prefer watching YouTube videos to TV.
The idea of us watching TV together as a family, is slowly becoming passé. Thank god for that because I can only remember with utmost shudder, the many many nights me and my father had to sit through hours of “Kabhi Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ first and then Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki.. (Not sure if it was in that order). Back then, you see, we did not have the luxury of having a separate TV in each room.
Now, I can watch some interesting movie, while the baby watches Shakespeare plays to prepare for her Macbeth project (of course, monitored by one of us) while the husband can catch his own programming on his phone or tablet. And at the end of it, we are all happy and still united, as a family.
With the reach of the internet going far and wide and Wi-Fi covering most parts of the country that day isn’t far when cable TV channels are going to become extinct. Not with this kind of programming, they are not going anywhere for sure. Unless they up their quality of content, at least match it with the content available on the WWW, I can foresee a world, not far from today, where cable TV will be a passé. Kids of today are the YouTube generation kids. They get most of their information and entertainment on the internet. So why would they sit through mindless, soulless entertainment?
When TV came to town, it was assumed that Radio will go the way of the dinosaurs. But no. The radio channels survived and eventually, with the advent of FM, they only thrived because of superior content and…of course, the influx of many many more cars on Indian roads mainly post liberalisation.
Cable TV has no such luck because the internet uses the same medium of engagement (a screen) and the content is updated much faster and is accessible from virtually any place which has access to the internet.
It’s time that cable TV channels begin to take their content far more seriously because the younger lot is evolving and very smart. They have ample choices and what’s more, by the time they are adults, most of them will have easy access to superior quality internet content, with Wi-Fi reaching almost everywhere.
Otherwise, one can safely say that cable TV will meet the same destiny as the wooly mammoth or the Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa civilization.