The second season of Indian Premier League (IPL), the shotgun wedding of cricket, cinema, celebrity, cheesecake, and commerce, is now into its second week in South Africa, but its influence is alrady being felt not just on the way cricket is played but on the way cricket is covered on the sports pages.
The table, above, is from the 29 April issue of the New Delhi edition of The Times of India.
It carries the names of four of the IPL teams as christened by their owners (Mumbai Indians, Kings’s XI Punjab, Knight Riders, Royal Challengers) . But, mysteriously or perhaps not so mysteriously, it refers to the other four teams by their cities (Hyderabad, Delhi, Jaipur and Chennai).
ToI’s reluctance to name “Team Hyderabad”, which is owned by Deccan Chronicle, is somewhat understandable: it may not want to give “free publicity” to a key competitors in the South. But what of the remaining three? The Chennai team is owned by India Cements; the Delhi team by the infrastructure company GMR; and the Jaipur team is part-owned by Lachlan Murdoch and the actress Shilpa Shetty.
Should business interests prevent newspapers, magazines, TV stations from naming teams owned by competitors? Even if business interests prevent ToI from naming teams, why the preferential treatment for the other four?
Also read: Is anything OK if it fetches a few dollars?
New York City-based human rights and media activist Partha Banerjee, in Counter Currents, detects an eerie similarity behind “the media-supported rise of Rahul Gandhi” as the next potential prime minister of India and the rise of Rajiv Gandhi and his brother Sanjay:
“I must say I’m frustrated to see the rampant bias in favour of the ruling party [in the Indian media]….
“The role of government as well as private media such as Zee TV, NDTV, Star-Ananda, CNN-IBN, The Times of India, etc., along with their many local and regional offshoots, to show extreme bias for parties and candidates of their choice is gravely ominous for democracy.
“”Contrary to the much-touted American media doctrine of a fair and objective reporting—doctrine they always preach but seldom practice—the new Indian media have resorted to an unrestricted, one-sided coverage of the Congress Party and its leaders.
“Sadly, even now during the election times, voters can find nearly no reporting of the fact that a vast majority of Indians still have no access to health care, education, drinking water or electricity. One wouldn’t know that in India, a world-record number of farmers committed suicide because of economic desperation and multinational companies’ forced seed-bank replacements.
“We don’t hear about the destruction of Indian environment and massive pollution and energy crisis. We don’t hear about the extreme lack of women’s rights (sure, we now have more fashion shows and jewelry models on the catwalk!). We don’t hear that India is now the fastest-growing AIDS country (and contrary to Thailand or USA, talking AIDS is still very much a taboo).
“We don’t know that police brutality and abuses on social and religious minorities are abysmal. We’re never told that international organizations have called India as one of the worst countries to protect human rights and promote equality. We’re not reminded that India has seen a massive number of communal riots, big and small, in recent years: not just in Gujarat, Ayodhya or Mumbai. And that our governments have failed miserably to protect us from terrorism.
“And that is why Indian media’s suppression of truth and generous donation to ruling class’s rampant lies are even more worrisome. In their election coverage today, opposition parties find minimal amount of time and importance. Third parties and especially those who have mass support to boycott elections are not given any time at all. Big media have belittled opposition alliances, and brought them to ridicule.”
Read the full article: Incredible India (Elections): Jay Ho!
Also read: How the media misses the woods for the trees