Sunday, March 20, 2011

So many TV Channels, so many cameras

So many TV Channels, so many cameras

Majyd Aziz

The liberal electronic media policy of the government has brought about a revolution dreamt by those who grew up watching just PTV. Gone are the days when “channel surfing” was a luxury enjoyed by TV viewers in developed nations. The Pakistanys used to tune in to BBC to get the bare facts. PTV believed in news that suited the person in power in Islamabad. Political assassinations, bombings of places of worship, and the activities of the opposition, seldom made the news on PTV. Even today, inspite of intense competition from private TV channels, the PTV bosses still behave like the proverbial monkeys who would not see, hear, or speak evil (in this case, “evil” is PTV-ese for anything anti-government). Everything is hunky-dory in the Islamic Republic, according to PTV.

The advent of private channels has enabled the citizens to obtain visual facts, on-spot observations, and authoritative commentary from a battalion of experts and professionals. “Breaking News” has become part of the daily lingo. There is now a plethora of choices for the discerning viewer. Skillfully produced family dramas, jive and slick music programs, and creative news and views editions, all attract the domestic viewers and has ensued into a scenario of trust and admiration from the citizens.

The politicians and the businessmen now bask in the glory too as many are now regulars on these channels, and their activities are vividly covered by the electronic media. This phenomenon has led to a situation now where functions and events are enthusiastically highlighted in the news telecast of these channels.

Today, the cameramen and their assistants vie with others to obtain a vantage point to film the proceedings. They do not want to miss even a single second of activity on the dais. Furthermore, these cameramen also have their favorite personalities among the audience and they focus on them too. Matters become uncomfortable when the hall or room is unable to accommodate everybody and thus the audience faces a wall of camera operators, assistants, and equipment rather than observing and appreciating the happenings on the stage.

From black and white PTV and PTV-2, television in Pakistan has come a long way. There is a growing demand for anchors, technicians, reporters, camera operators, and support staff. The Information Minister says that 25 new licenses would be granted and so there would be that many new channels, cameramen, light men, and cameras taking in all the action.

Apparently then in the future, there would be nearly three dozen cameramen jostling with one another and with a host of photographers. The speaker’s dais would have to be crafted jumbo size to accommodate all the microphones each displaying the channel’s logo. It becomes disturbing when a tardy cameraman tries to place his microphone on the dais and in the process unsettles the ones already, but delicately, placed there.

Although the presence of so many microphones on the dais does profess importance, the fact is that the audience becomes fidgety and uncomfortable as it is difficult to concentrate on the proceedings and, at times, the glare of the light that is totted by the camera assistant becomes rather disconcerting. Even though each cameraman takes enough footage to make it into a regular show of its own, what one actually sees on the evening news is just a couple of minute’s worth of footage.

It is proposed that a common pool system be devised by the higher echelons of the private channels in which one or two cameramen from a couple of designated channels cover a program and relay the footage to other channels. The microphones would have a uniform logo that would be highlighted and promoted by each channel alongwith its own excusive logo. There would be many advantages to this strategy.

o First and foremost each channel would be entitled to footage from every
program or event being held and thus would get an opportunity to telecast it.
o Secondly, the organizers would have to send just one invitation to the
incharge of the common pool instead of inviting every channel.
o Thirdly, the audience would not be stressed out trying to see and enjoy
through the wall of cameramen and photographers.
o Fourthly, the organizers could concentrate on the event’s output rather than
worrying about handling the large force of cameramen.
o Fifth, there would be savings in manpower and equipment for the channels.
o Finally, the hosts and all those present at the function could go home and
surf the channels to their heart’s content, watching themselves in living

June 02, 2005

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