No reason to get touchy, was there?

Posted: January 29, 2010 in TV Channels
Tags: ,

So, why are people in the broadcast media so touchy about any questions thrown at them about the frivolous manner in which cricket matches are being covered nowadays?

At a National Sports Media Meet at the SIMC on Friday, my question to a panel of three well-known mediapersons – Ayaz Memon, Senior Associate Editor of the Telegraph Lokendra Pratap Sahi and Times Sports Editor Bobilli Vijay Kumar – was “do you think that 20-somethings who hold forth on the state of the game and the cricketers on television channels today, have trivialised the level of commentating and analysis?”

Before any of the panelists could answer the question, the moderator, who was from the world’s biggest sports channel, jumped at me with “Who are you referring to?”

When I said I wasn’t talking about anyone in particular and the question was meant for the three big names of print media, he persisted angrily, “Why don’t you name the person?”

The much more experienced Memon, then quickly butted in and started answering. When he finished, Sahi joined the debate and said precisely what I wanted to hear – that at the end of the day people had to turn to journalists like Memon, Vijay Kumar and himself to get a good analysis of a match!

The matter didn’t end there. After the session, which incidentally, was quite good as were the ones after that, I went up to the moderator to soothe ruffled feathers, but he snapped, “I was going to tell you to switch off your TV set.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Funnily enough, I wasn’t even referring to his channel, because, I believe, it is probably the only sports channel that doesn’t believe in trvialising sports coverage. So, I wondered why he took offence at my comments.

The first thought that came to mind was that, maybe I wasn’t the first to throw such a question to people like him. After all, we’ve read enough criticism about TV channels paying more attention to noodle straps, plunging necklines and tight T shirts, than do some serious commentating.

Don’t think for one moment that I’m being an MCP. I’m not. I’d love to see some woman in noodle straps – but just not in the commentary box! The point I’m making is that there are kids of both genders on some of the TV channels with barely six months under the belt who give their expert comments about the game and players, and only end up making complete asses of themselves. There have been times when it makes one mutter “wtf is he/she talking about?”

A good case in point was the person from the International Cricket Council who also addressed the students, and started every other line with “I don’t know” or “I’m not too sure”. How was such a ‘clueless’ person giving a power point presentation to 200 kids about the ICC’s role in promoting the game?

If TV channels drafted in former women cricketers like Diana Eduljee, Shubhangi Kulkarni or Anjum Chopra to speak on the game, the level of commentary would really be engaging. Kulkarni and Chopra are among the most articulate and knowledgeable persons, I have heard talking on cricket. I’ve had discussions with Kulkarni the few times that we’ve met in the past decade or so, and her opinions and comments on the way the game is being run would give most men an inferiority complex.

But, we do know that most sports channels are not doing too well, and when everything rests on TRPs and it starts to drop, there’s nothing better than a plunging neckline and noodle straps to give it a ‘push up’, is there?

  1. Sumeet Nihalani says:

    I will quote something I read in either Robert Townsend’s “Up the Organization” or Mark McCormack’s “What they Don’t teach you in Harvard Business School” (it was so long ago that I don’t remember which one):

    —–When a senior executive in an organization was asked if he was engaged in sexual relations with one of his staff, he responded, “Who told you that?” According to psychologists, any response to a question with another question usually establishes guilt. If the senior executive was innocent, possible answers would have been, “No, of course not!”, “that’s a ridiculous question!” or just a simple “No”.—–

    In my eyes, the moderator is guilty of your accusation. That’s what his “Who are you referring to?” means.

    Either that, or he wants you to take names (how stupid does he think you are Mohan?) so he can malign who you name. Maybe he did not understand what a “moderator” is supposed to do, or wanted to be on the panel.

    TV channel executives are not journalists. They are advertising executives in disguise who enjoy applying masala-movie creativity to content. Their idea of good cricket commentating is Mandira Bedi.

    Maybe you should have named his organization in response to his question. Now that would have been fun.

  2. Nilesh Sane says:

    I saw an ad on a sports channel recently and it was about a program which is hosted by a personality and supposedly on Cricket. The ad used all the adjectives possible, but none of them related to cricket.
    As an Ex-cricket fan, I think are these the people (hosts) even qualified to hold a conversation on cricket, forget about hosting a show. Cricket is a gentleman’s game, at least that’s what they say, and when the people who have to represent it in front an audience of a Billion cant conduct themselves in front of a senior, then you know that its the TRP’s which are talking and not the person.

  3. Pradeep Menon says:

    Yes, I noticed the way he snapped at you when you asked him the question, and I was appalled, for pretty much the same reasons that you mentioned.

    I like ESS, since they have always had the best quality of experts compared to other channels, to talk on the game. Not many people can argue with Wasim Akram or Sunil Gavaskar when it comes to cricket. Watching Harsha Bhogle speak about the game he and all of us so passionately love, has always been a delight. Apart from the occassional ‘Shaz & Waz’ show, ESS has pretty much maintained rock-solid cricket programming. I think it is just how the television industry functions, no matter which channel it is. They are very insecure about everything, and perhaps dont know any other alphabets apart from T, R and P.

    Regarding the woman from ICC, even though she did say ‘I’m not sure’ quite a few times, I don’t really think she was a complete idiot or anything of the sort. She seemed pretty sorted when it came to what her job at ICC would essentially involve.

    I don’t know much about Shubhangi Kulkarni apart from the fact that she played for Maharashtra and India, but I have heard Anjum Chopra speak on ‘4th Umpire’, and I agree, she speaks very well about the game.

    The highlight of National Sports Media Meet for me was listening to Ayaz Memon and Viren Rasquinha speak about what they did. It was quite easily one of the best events that I have seen at SIMC.

  4. Gurvinder says:

    Your postings sometimes give valuable food for thought. I look forward to more postings.


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