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Media (7)


Written by Friday, 26 April 2013 09:39

Shagun TV, a first-of-its-kind matrimonial channel, is all set to make that a reality. Complete with marriage-related soap operas and chat shows, it goes on air on April 26


Written by Saturday, 30 March 2013 07:19

Actress Ramya's police complaint against a photojournalist shows how airheads in the movie industry can't tell journalism from PR


Movie star Ramya has slapped a police case against a photojournalist because—would you believe it?—the picture didn't turn out flattering enough.

Here is what happened. Ramya (31), star of big hits like Abhi, Amruthadhaare, Arasu, Mussange Mathu, and Sanju Weds Geetha, was shooting for Neer Dose, in which she reportedly plays a bar dancer. Racy make-up and dress were called for. And, dare we say it, she does look a bit plump.


Film-makers and actors love publicity, so ever so often, they invite the media to take pictures during their shoots. They love it when the newspapers print their pictures with some harmless information alongside. The moment the journalists say something that doesn’t sound like good public relations, they fly into a rage.


Freelance photographer KN Nagesh Kumar took a few pictures and uploaded them on his website. Then someone tweeted a link to the pictures. It shows Ramya seated at a table, eating, with a bit of décolletage.


Ramya apparently didn't like what she saw. Fair enough. But it is not a journalist’s job to make his subject look “as good as possible” His job is to shoot reality.


Apparently, Ramya was also enraged by some reactions to the tweet. In any case, she has filed a police complaint at Ashok Nagar police station, complaining that the act “outraged the modesty of a woman.”


Ramya is well-connected, and is now a Youth Congress leader, so she promptly called top politicians, bureaucrats and police officers.


On Thursday, many newspapers reproduced the photograph. It would have never seen the light of day but for Ramya’s police complaint. Much online excitement dies a quick death.


Was the picture “vulgar?” Judge for yourself. It is printed above.


Journalists have a difficult enough job as it is, and could do without being persecuted by the well-heeled and the well-connected, who suddenly decide they don't look good enough in a photograph. Hey, hit the gym, not the photographer.


Or to change the metaphor, the oldest rule in the book is—never shoot the messenger. As a wag quipped, if outraging the modesty of Ramya is the issue, it is the filmmakers who will have to go to jail once Neer Dose is released!



Written by Saturday, 12 January 2013 07:16

Unthinking media portrayal of suicides triggers copycat attempts, says a task force looking at training journalists


Written by Friday, 14 December 2012 07:01

When a hoax call by two RJs led to the suicide of a Mangalore-born nurse in the UK,it led to outrage. Bangalore’s RJs are examining the implications, while listeners are demanding that a line be drawn

A battle is in the air

Written by Wednesday, 31 October 2012 10:46

With private FM channels switching from Kannada to Hindi one after the other, audio rights owners suspect the stations are forming a cartel to thwart the southern language 


The Kannada film music industry is up in arms against Bangalore FM radio channels switching to Hindi. Red FM, owned by the Chennai-based Sun group, is the latest to move from Kannada to Hindi. Their change in programming came into effect earlier this month. 


The Kannada audio industry is planning a big protest in the first week of November to counter private FM channels dropping Kannada from their shows. 


The industry is puzzled. The channels aren’t telling them why they are switching to Hindi. ‘They haven’t written to us, nor have they had a word with us,’ says Velu of Lahari Recording Company, south India’s biggest audio label. 


When Talk contacted the Bangalore offices of Red FM and Fever 104, they said they were not authorised to respond. RadioOne said it wouldn’t comment either. 


Over the last four years, three FM channels that used to play Kannada music have switched completely to Hindi. The first to change was RadioOne in 2008. The station, then owned by Mid- Day Multimedia, began with Kannada and Hindi, and then switched to Hindi. Fever 104, which used to play only Kannada, changed its format to Hindi in July 2011. It now calls itself the ‘Baap of Bollywood’. 


 There was some talk that the Kannada labels were demanding higher royalties, but that is not borne out by what the Kannada music industry says.


Velu says, ‘The royalties a label here receives are meagre, and in the range of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 a month, whereas we should be receiving a minimum of Rs 1 lakh.’ 


A highly placed source at a private radio station said Kannada songs end up being more expensive than Hindi. But Velu counters that claim, saying the royalty is fixed by the regulatory authorities, and can’t be determined by audio rights owners. 


 The Karnataka Audio and Video Owners’ Association (KAVOA), headed by Velu, suspects the channels are forming a cartel so that they can thwart the Kannada music industry. ‘The bosses at the radio channels have no clue about Kannada language or culture,’ says Velu. ‘They just want to impose their prejudices on the city.’


Plans are afoot to protest the change of language. Musicians, audio label owners and representatives of the film industry are talking about how to take on the ‘cartel’. Many are suggesting they should take to the streets and protest. 


Neglecting Kannada is against licence norms, and private channels could be hauled up on that score. 


 ‘FM stations in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh play their regional music. Why can’t we?’ Velu says. ‘This negative attitude is affecting not just our business but also our language.’


 If channels in Bangalore start playing Hindi, what will happen to the Kannada music industry? That’s a question bothering labels, the film music industry, RJs and listeners.


 FM radio has a history of 11 years in Bangalore. The first private channel to come to Bangalore was Radio City, launched in July, 2001. It started out playing only English pop numbers.


All India Radio launched Vividh Bharti and FM Rainbow in the same year in September. Gyanvani was launched in January 2004, followed by Amrutavarshini, the only channel in India to play classical music. 


Next to join the league was Radio Mirchi, launched in April 2006. RadioOne followed in August, Radio Indigo in September, Big FM in October and Red FM in November. The next year saw Fever 104 making its presence felt in the city. 


In the past, radio channels have run into trouble when they tried to keep Kannada out of their programming. Vasanthi Hariprakash, radio host and TV reporter, experienced the ire six years ago. ‘I happened to be the anchor of a breakfast show on Radio City, and I remember people protesting against Hindi music. They came in on a Saturday when I was in fact hosting my weekend Kannada show Bengaluru Talkies,’ she said. 


 The KAVOA says it has approached the channels, but nothing has come of it.


 Sanjay Prabhu, MD, Radio Indigo, denies that anyone has approached his channel regarding this issue. ‘There is no rule that says the local language needs to be promoted, instead it is the local content—like local talent and shows—that need to be promoted on radio.’


That will be seen as clever hair-splitting, but, says N Raghu, programme executive in charge of Amrutavarshini, private FM channels are promoting neither the local language nor local talent. ‘Rarely do we see local bands being promoted on these channels. They are promoting recorded content.’ 


That is because private FM stations are not equipped to record original music. They have neither the space nor the equipment to invite musicians over and produce a professional recording. The only channel with such infrastructure is All India Radio. 


‘In order to promote local talent and content, these channels need to change their attitude,’ Raghu says. 


Prabhu of Indigo, which plays English pop, says he is willing to hear out any request for alternative programming. ‘We will react when we are approached,’ he said. 


FM channels say they play only Hindi or English music because of the ‘cosmopolitan nature’ of Bangalore, and young audiences prefer Hindi and English to Kannada. V H Suresh, former vice president and secretary of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC), isn’t convincedHe says, ‘FM channels are misusing the term ‘cosmopolitan’. They are taking unfair advantage of the culture and generosity of the people of Bangalore.’ 


But defining audiences narrowly has its problems. Vasanthi says, ‘In my own experience as RJ, whether at Radio City or AIR’s FM Rainbow prior to that, I have seen how traditional Kannadigas have a fine grasp of not just Hindi film music, but also ghazals, retro numbers and even Western music.’ 


 not open to Kannada music. Their excuse: they do not understand the lyrics. Ashwin, a software engineer, says he listens to Kannada songs at his gym or at wayside restaurants, that is, only when he has no other option. ‘I appreciate the music but listening to it won’t be my first choice,’ he says.


FM Rainbow, run by All India Radio, caters to everyone’s tastes by playing Kannada, Hindi and English music. Rajeshwari, transmission executive, FM Rainbow, says, ‘Even though we are a central government-run channel, we give preference to Kannada. A majority of our content and hosting is in Kannada. At the same time, we devote three hours to Hindi and one hour to Western music every day.’ 


The Kannada film industry says it will suffer if radio channels play more Hindi than Kannada. ‘Since the Kannada film industry has a small market, the FM channels should encourage us and not ignore us,’ Suresh said. 


When a channel changes the language of its programmes, RJ careers are directly affected. Some are given non-RJ jobs within the station, while others go looking for alternative jobs, mostly outside radio. A Kannada RJ at Fever 104 was jobless for a while when the channel switched to Hindi. He now works for a Kannada TV channel. 


Melodee Austin, RJ, Radio Indigo, considers a scenario where her channel, now exclusively English, plays Kannada. ‘We may have to learn the language and Kannada music. Those really passionate about music and the medium will go to the extent of learning both, but how comfortable they will be is a question,’ she says. 


 Channels like Radio Mirchi and Big FM still play only Kannada music, and, if industry insiders are to be believed, are doing well commercially.


As for the others, Suresh says, ‘Even if they play 50 per cent Kannada and 50 per cent Hindi and English, I think the issue will be resolved.’ 


Flowers, chocolates, and threats

Written by Wednesday, 26 September 2012 08:11

The obsessed fan is every celebrity's nightmare. Bangalore’s RJs sometimes get their share of unwanted attention


In a lonely world, the disembodied voice over the airwaves, friendly, teasing, understanding, seemingly talking only to you, establishes a connect like no other. And the best radio jockeys (RJs) have mastered this art, winning them legions of fans. But there is a dark side, as many of the city’s RJs have discovered.


Unwittingly, their on-air intimacy hooks disturbed minds, who begin to feel that they have a right to the RJ’s special attention. Some stop at sending flowers and chocolates, and are satisfied with a smile or a handshake. For others, it becomes an obsession. Enter the stalker…


RJ Monika (name changed) from a popular FM station, was stalked by a young man for over a year. “Initially, I thought he was just like any other fan. But what scared me was that he would come to all our outdoor broadcasts and just stand and stare at me, which was very creepy,” she says.


He would bombard her with emails and phone messages. This would include death threats which would take the form of predictions— that she would hit a truck and smash her head underneath it, for example.


“At times, when I went off-air for a few days, he would write on my Facebook page that I was dead,” she recalls.


Monica is not the only one. RJ Pavitra from Radio One had a fan who would come to the FM station often to meet her, and buy her chocolates and other gifts.


“I don’t like people presenting me with gifts and so I refused to take anything from him. Whenever he turned up, I would ask my assistant to tell him I was out,” Pavitra said.


One Saturday morning, however, he came to the studio and waited for more than an hour. “Finally, when I was done with my show and was about to leave, he just grabbed my arm saying that he wanted to buy me coffee. I was really scared as there was no one in the office. I had to tell him someone was waiting for me and he left. Even after that, he kept visiting, but I didn’t entertain him. I guess he finally got the message and stopped.” Dr Shyam Bhat, psychiatrist, says that some listeners can end up feeling they understand the RJs on an emotional level.


“Since they listen to them very often, they relate to them, and in some ways they are relating to an aspect of themselves that they want to develop,” he explains.


RJ Punitha, from Fever 104, was out one evening with a colleague, when a man approached her. “He asked if I was Punitha. I said yes and spoke to him for a minute and then excused myself,” she said.


“After that, he insisted on buying me drinks. He asked me if I could dance with him, which I politely refused,” she said.


“Later on he started dancing right behind me, commenting about me and my personality. I confronted him. I complained to the management and left the venue eventually.”


In another incident a man met her at the radio station and gifted her some chocolates. “Since I was in a hurry, I couldn’t thank him properly. So I called him many times from the office phone, but he never picked it up. Finally I messaged him from my personal number. Since that day he constantly keeps messaging me and calling me,” she says.


After that incident, she has never given out her personal number to anyone.


These incidents usually involve young individuals. Monika says the young man stalking her looked “very normal and educated.


She had to seek a friend’s help. He spoke to the stalker and put a stop to the harassment.


It is not uncommon for fans to visit radio stations to meet their favourite RJs. Usually, the RJs chat with them, offer them coffee and a tour of the station.


Some approach them for ‘help.’ Shraddha remembers a paranoid fan. “She would come every day to meet me at the station and tell me that someone was going to kill her. I would have coffee with her, try to calm her down, and she would then leave,” she recalls. One day the disturbed fan stopped coming.


Radio stations have security at the reception. RJs are given strict instructions on how to interact with fans. “We are told not to give any leads to our listeners, or mislead them in any way. If some listener asks to meet us over coffee, we do not encourage that,” says Shraddha.


RJs are taken through an induction process, where they are told how to manage their image on air. “They are trained to understand and decode phone calls. If they suspect something is wrong, the callers are taken off air,” says Trigam Mukherjee, Senior Associate, AR&R Communications. Occasionally, the police are called to handle unruly fans.


Social media technologies have given fans another way to connect with celebrities. “Yes, with Facebook, fans can reach out to us, but if they post something inappropriate, I delete their comments quickly. Criticism is fine and appreciated, but not posts that are personal in nature,” says Shraddha.


With Facebook, fans can easily access RJs’ profiles and know where they are when they go on an outdoor broadcast. But RJs don’t always see that as a problem, as most fans are friendly.


Late night radio shows dispensing love and life advice are attracting listeners in huge numbers, report Sandra Fernandes and Maria Lavina.


Love advice on radio is now a rage in Bangalore. FM channels invite listeners to pour their hearts out to radio jockeys who dispense relationship advice.


Heartline on Radio Indigo 91.9, a daily show in English, helps listeners with advice from a professional psychiatrist and relationship expert. Listeners can opt to use their names, but what makes such shows popular is the anonymity it offers. Callers don’t mind opening up to the RJ, and sometimes develop friendships that go beyond phone calls.


It is surprising, but people talk about intimate and private issues on air. That could be because young people don’t have too many places where they can confide and get trustworthy advice,” says Sophia Purushothaman, producer, Heartline.


Call-in radio shows have proved successful around the world, as they not only help listeners understand relationship patterns but also provide broad pointers to what they could do if they find themselves in knotty relationships.


‘Big Coffee’ on Big FM 92.7 has Kannada actor and director Ramesh Arvind sitting with RJ Shruthi and talking to listeners in distress. A caller once told Shruthi she was unemployed though she was well educated, and wanted to take her life. “I took her out for coffee. After she told me all her woes, I consoled her and advised her not to take such a drastic step. Now she holds a good position, takes care of her family. She continues to be in touch with me,” recalls Shruthi.


Although there are no statistics to show how many people really benefit from such counselling, the popularity of such shows is on the rise. But is it legally all right for RJs to fill in the shoes of counsellors? Byatha N Jagadeesh, advocate, believes it is. “RJs advising their listeners does not amount to any breach of law. They take a role similar to friends and relatives,” he told Talk. RJ’s talking on air does not legally constitute counselling either.

Suicidal listeners often call RJs. RJ Pradeep of ‘Savi Savi Nenapu’ (Sweet memories) on Red FM says he has saved the lives of some listeners. “A man called me on air after consuming poison, saying I was the last person he wanted to talk to. I immediately rushed to his house and got him admitted in a hospital,” he recalls. After the story went on air, many listeners paid the suicidal listener a hospital visit, he says.


RJ Anjaan, who used run a show as Doctor Anjaan on Radio One, is more cautious. “Being a certified youth counsellor, I help listeners with minor problems, but in extreme cases, I make sure they get professional help,” he says. Anjaan reveals that most RJs who run counselling shows choose callers whose problems can be solved. They talk to callers and ‘prep’ them before they are taken on air. More often than not, RJs will (or rather, should) refer the more serious problems to professionals and not aim to solve them, he insists.


Sophia agrees it is very important to have a qualified person giving advice on this type of show. “We get calls from people who have very serious issues, for example, people who have turned suicidal because of a break-up or family issues. Hence we have a psychiatrist, Dr Shyam Bhat, who counsels our callers. His co-host, TJ, does not give her own advice, unless it is based on her personal experience,” she explains.


When Talk spoke to Dr Bhat, this is how he described his method: “When I answer questions, I first do a personality and mood analysis of the person who is asking the question - the same question will have different answers, depending on the caller’s question and unique personality. Answers will also have to help the caller by using voice tonality, and pacing.”


The RJs cannot forget cases with happy endings. RJ Pradeep played a mediator and brought together a mother and four sons after 25 long years. Some callers tell Sophia things are better thanks to advice from the psychologist on her channel.


It is generally assumed night shows are low on listenership. But the numbers claimed by the stations are huge. Pradeep says his channel gets a few hundred calls for its three-hour relationship advice show in Kannada. Only a few of them get to be on air; the rest are advised off air. Heartline gives out more modest average of 27 calls per hour-long show, of which seven are aired.


Not everyone is convinced the shows are genuine. “I feel we cannot share our feelings with a complete stranger, when there are thousands listening to us out there,” says Renjith P George, a student. But Leandra Lobo, a student and an avid listener of Heartline, connects with the show. “I understand what the callers are going through and try to use some of the advice in my life,” she says.


Radio counselling provides interesting stories for filmmakers. Musange Maatu (Twilight talk), a Kannada film starring Sudeep, was inspired by Pradeep’s show Savi Savi Nenapu. It told the story of how an RJ helps listeners in distress. The incidents in the movie are taken from Pradeep’s show . 


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