The advent of television in India was a pleasant event that buoyed almost everyone. I was an avid viewer of it during its early years of launch, but gradually developed an aversion for all the programmes – movies, serials, and even songs — dished out by the idiot box. All of them have become anathema to me. Not that I turn a deaf ear to music but the truth is far from it. It is the accompanying scenes that arouse my derision. I enjoy songs from other sources — computers and mobile phone — where I could listen to songs without being distracted by visuals. I watch movies at multiplexes on wider screens occasionally.
It is sports and commercials that keep me glued to the television. But my wife reaches for the remote impulsively to turn the television set off, rather furiously, when the commercials set in, saying they have hopelessly overwhelmed TV channels. But I don’t let her. She, like several other viewers, seems to overlook the fact that it is the commercials that foot the bill for telecasting all programmes, actually a sort of parasites who owe their existence to the former.
Commercials are magnanimous in that it is at their cost that you get to watch everything on the TV. I feel they entertain the viewers more than the programmes and are informative to boot. You may say that only because people are interested in watching movies and serials that the commercials survive. Not really. Can anyone say that without the oxpecker bird a rhino can’t exist? They have a symbiotic relationship with each other. Commercials and programmes are similarly related to each other. However, that doesn’t detract from the significance of the former. You pay only for the service and it is commercials that ultimately enable the survival of TV shows.
Again, as regards me, movies and serials are unappetising side dishes of the main course — commercials. How many channels on television can survive without commercials? None. Instances are galore that those who are typically loathe to watching commercials find it interesting at times and secretly wish they had played on.
Without commercials, you can’t sell anything in the market. Yet some viewers, as if they foot the bill for telecasting, curse them, ignorant of the insight that it is commercials that help them to watch all programmes. Commercials are not selfish; they let all the programmes be shown on television, purely by being the bankroller. There is no denying that they too are benefited from the programmes. But don’t forget that they spend huge sums for airing them while the programmes that harvest the benefits do not do so. I bet without commercials no industry can survive, no products will sell. At times, television news, if at all we get to watch any, is so depressing that it is the commercials that save the news hour. As for news, I would rather like to read newspapers than hear it from TV news anchors. I am a Guttenberg man. In this context, a pertinent question arises in everybody’s mind. Do news hours on television really exist? For, invariably, they turn out to be debating hours. News hours are customarily hijacked by debates in all channels. They pick a topical issue and present it to the debaters, the way you throw a piece of meat to a pack of ravenous wolves.
All the debaters then pounce upon the topic and speak at once, quite unbecomingly, failing to maintain decorum. They vie with each other to air their views. Most of the time one can’t even catch what is being said. Whatever they say is drowned in the resultant cacophony. The news anchors make maximum effort to show off their eloquence. Only on rare occasions, say to report catastrophes like the recent earthquakes in Nepal that the news channels go off the beaten track of transmuting news into debates.
Most of the time, I find commercials funny and absorbing that I dislike them being punctuated by movies and serials. A few ads may arouse derision but they are few and far between.
Hence, I personally have strong grounds for my penchant for commercials. I am convinced that those who scorn them would come around to like them one day, however mulish they are in despising them now.