Some of the country’s top advertising brands have come together to express genuine concern over the increasing toxicity on the TV news channels, for the cause of increasing their TRP. According to a report by the BestMediaInfo.com, the advertisers are hinting towards reconsidering their overall TV news adex if the similar pattern of news coverage continues. Leading brands like Maruti Suzuki, Amul, Parle, and Future Group say that journalistic ethics are at great danger, and this poses a threat to their brand too. This comes after Amul recently faced a huge backlash on the social media after sponsoring Sudarshan News channel’s communal coverage of “UPSC Jihad” that was declared as a promotion of hate speech by the Delhi High Court.
The advertisers finally speak up
Amul‘s managing director, RS Sodhi, said, “Amul currently spends 35-40% of its total television budget on the news. Undoubtedly, news channels are an important medium to reach out to the consumer, and hence you cannot stop advertising on them completely. But, having said that, you can always pressure the ones that do not behave. Without mentioning any particular incident, we can definitely tell them to behave and not to show unwanted aggression.” The report also quotes the opinions of other brand officials who feel that the top advertisers should come together to sponsor ethical news content”.
“Initially, I thought it would be difficult to bring all advertisers on the same page, but it is not impossible if most of the big advertisers think from a perspective of creating a safe environment for their brands and if they continue to be called as purpose-driven brands,” said Krishnarao Buddha of Parle Products. Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director, Sales and Marketing, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, said, “As a principle, it is a good idea for advertisers to invest in media with good and clean content. Brands generally would not like to be associated with malicious or disrespectful content.”
Why had the brands not taken any step so far?
It is clear that the brands understand that TV news is no longer a safe space for them to keep advertising their products, they still refrain from taking concrete actions because the broadcasters can undertake several arm-twisting techniques. Rao from Parle Products says, “Somewhere advertisers have fear, and they find excuses to advertise on news channels because they have the power to arm-twist any brand. For example, if any brand gets into any controversy, they will go to the extent to kill the brand. It has happened with us in the past, and we got negative headlines because we did not advertise on certain media.” Many brands have voiced similar concerns and have decided not to act on this for now.
Farhan Akhtar takes a clear stance
As the report by BestMediaInfo.com gained momentum, actor-singer-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar also took to Twitter and talked about the way of coverage of Indian media. He tweeted on Monday, “Combined with Lata-ji’s birthday and Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary, here’s some more good news today. Sincerely hope that the top brands in question follow through on their valid concern about vitriolic news reporting.” His father, screenwriter and lyricist, Javed Akhtar has also been very vocal about the defamatory acts of Indian media, on Twitter.
The Policy Times view on this issue –
- It is a complex business to understand how advertising and media houses work, but every citizen should understand that the television media is operating unethically and is mostly trying to divert the attention from real issues.
- Most people think that television media is the only way of consuming news, but in the digital world, subscribing to reliable news portals can also keep you away from the fake news being circulated on social media.
- One must understand that the channels will go to any length as long as they keep getting the TRPs. As viewers, it is something that we can regulate to a certain extent.