New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the new media landscape of India. According to the recent findings of the IANS CVoter Media Tracker, almost 74 percent of the respondents treat news channels as a source of entertainment rather than real news.
When asked about a statement that ‘News channels in India are more entertainment than news‘, a whopping 73.9 percent of respondents agreed, while 22.5 percent disagreed. A minuscule 2.6 percent said that they ‘don’t know‘ or ‘can’t say‘.
The agreement to that statement is across the gender barrier, as 75.1 percent of men and 72.7 percent of women agreed that new channels have become a source of entertainment.
This agreement also finds unanimity across age barriers. Saving 55+ years, more than 70 percent in every section of the age brackets gave their nod to the changing nature of news channels. Among those above 55 years, 68.7 percent agreed to the assertion.
The statement also found approval among different income groups — with the low-income groups complaining the most at 75.9 percent, while the others too were above 70 percent.
Across social groups also, people agreed to the assertion that news channels have become a source of entertainment. As many as 72.1 percent Dalits and 73.5 percent upper-caste Hindus agreed to it, while 85.3 percent Sikhs agreed that news channels have changed.
Across regions, Indians agreed to the assertion emphatically at more than 70 percent. However, respondents from south India were in a bit less agreement at 67.1 percent. Be it urban or rural, Delhi-NCR, Hindi belt, or the rest of India – all agreed that news channels have become a source of entertainment.
It is common knowledge that social distancing and lockdown measures have impacted the production pipeline of general entertainment channels. In the absence of “fresh” creative content, the audience has turned to reality shows like news coverage.
But the idea of seeking entertainment in news channels is damaging the credibility of most of the news brands in more ways than one.
The survey had a sample size of 5,000 plus respondents from across India covering all the districts in all the states, representing the demographic profile according to the latest census figures.
The interviews were conducted in the last week of September and the first week of October 2020. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent at the national level and +/- 5 percent at the regional levels.