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Indian Press ( 18 Nov 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian Press On Rwandan TV, Muslim Representation And Imran Khan’s Failures: New Age Islam's Selection, 18 November 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

18 November 2020

• Rwandan TV: The Purpose Of TV Media Measurement

By Paritosh Joshi

• The Crisis Of Muslim Representation

Hindustan Times Editorial

• Keep An Eye On Pakistan

Hindustan Times Editorial

• Pakistan’s ‘Dossier’: A Bid To Shift Focus From Imran’s Failures?

By Smita Sharma


Rwandan TV: The Purpose Of TV Media Measurement

By Paritosh Joshi

Nov 18, 2020

Over a month after the story about mischief in television ratings broke, we are still in a lather about Television Rating Points (TRPs), bar-o-meters and the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). Let us, instead, look beyond the measurement system and deal with what people actually do with the petabytes of data which BARC publishes.

Over 500 channels are licensed by the ministry of information and broadcasting. In addition, there are, at least, an equal number of services offered by distribution platforms. Typically labelled value-added services, they cover everything from classic cinema, specific genres of music, health and wellness, real estate, personal finance and, increasingly, education. These services are usually advertising-free and, given that they operate within the Distribution Service Operator (DSO)’s subscription-based walled garden, they are entirely outside BARC’s measurement.

Licence rules allow broadcasters to utilise no more than 12 minutes of advertising inventory or 24 spots of 30 seconds per hour. This norm is routinely violated. About 16 hours per day, from 7 am to 11 pm, is considered saleable; overnight inventories are often given to telemarketing slots. Thus, a channel can sell 192 minutes of inventory or 384 spots per day. This is 192,000 saleable spots per day across 500 channels.

When a brand decides to buy television inventory for a campaign, it begins with two objectives: One, reach, which is a minimum proportion of the target audience which must be exposed to the campaign; two, frequency, or the number of times a member of the target audience will be exposed to it. Given that audiences are scattered across such a wide raft of choices, both these objectives require buying lots of spots. Typical plans, for even small brands with modest objectives, will run across dozens of spots, across many channels. National fast moving consumer goods brands run thousands of spots in a single campaign period.

To invoke a metaphor, a regular-sized grape weighs five gm. That’s about 200 grapes per kilo, though it is never that many, because the twigs and stems make up around 10% of the weight. So, you get about 180 grapes per kg. How do you buy them? This is what I do. Pick one off the bunch, rub it on my shirt to get the superficial dirt off and check how sweet or tart it is. Check that there are no overripe or damaged grapes. Pick a bunch and ask the vendor to weigh it. There is no practical way of checking every single grape, is there? When you get back home, you will usually find that there will be the odd offending article which missed scrutiny. But that does no discredit to your purchase.

This, more or less, is how television inventory is also bought. When you procure hundreds, or thousands, of spots, it is impossible to tell if some of them will fail to deliver with your audience. Media plans, like grape-buying, work on averages. And the empirical fact, that those 192,000 spots are usually sold out most days, suggests that plans deliver reach and frequency as planned and procured.

So how does television inventory transaction work?. Television stations sell advertising inventory in three modes. One, fixed spots where an advertisement will appear on a specific programme at a specific time on a specific day. Two, run of day part (RODP) where an ad will appear within a time band. This could be morning, afternoon, evening or night. Three, run of schedule (ROS) when the ad will appear on the channel at a time and day of the broadcaster’s choice.

Fixed spots are expensive. ROS on the same channel is deeply discounted. Most media procurement, and this is true across all genres of content, is done on an RODP or ROS basis. In the news genre, for instance, even the leading players sell as much as three-fourths of their inventory on these terms of trade. (Anyone outside the top 10 sells almost exclusively on effective rate ER — a global average of all pricing on the entire inventory).

How, then, do media planners know what the buy will secure, in terms of reach or frequency? Because they use averages across the day, or even week, to pick their media choices. Indeed, when the rubber hits the road, it devolves further. A range of channels within a given genre is identified, all of which meet threshold standards on audience profile and impressions delivered. After this, the buyer, usually different from the planner, and far more hard-nosed, gets down to the business of ruthless negotiation. The buyer is not put off if a specific channel is intransigent; there is always another, more pliant one, waiting.

So, here’s what is happening. BARC is actually trying to measure the weight of every individual grape. But, by the time they change hands, buyers and sellers are only interested in their average weight, sweetness, tartness and colour, across single transactions which account for quintals.

Media measurement plays many useful roles in the lives of all stakeholders. However, it should be abundantly clear that the single-most important application is in pricing advertising inventory. For which, a system which did nothing more than give weekly averages of reach and frequency, by channel, would not perform much worse than the level of detail which is on offer at this time.

If you are furious with this suggestion, the next time you buy a kilo of sabudana, check each of the grains individually.


Paritosh Joshi is a media professional with a keen interest in audience measurement


The Crisis Of Muslim Representation

Hindustan Times Editorial

Nov 17, 2020

In Bihar, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has taken office after crossing the majority mark in the recently-held assembly elections, winning 125 of the 243 seats. But there is one striking dimension of the verdict. There isn’t a single Muslim legislator in any of the NDA’s constituent parties. Bihar has over 17 million Muslims. Three years ago, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a spectacular mandate in Uttar Pradesh (UP), winning 312 of the 403 seats in the assembly. It did not have a single Muslim legislator (and has a single Muslim minister brought in through the legislative council route). UP has over 40 million Muslims. In the entire assembly, there are 24 Muslim lawmakers.

Nothing illustrates the crisis of representation, democracy and inter-community ties than these stark figures. In India, where both individual and group identities matter, communities feel a sense of empowerment when they have access to the formal state structure. This becomes even more critical because public services are often mediated informally — and having a representative from your community can help you lodge a complaint in the police station, get a hospital bed, or land government jobs. But most importantly, it gives a sense of belonging to the nation, deepens democracy, and allows social diversity to get reflected in political decisions.

The rise of the BJP, which is not hesitant to use the vocabulary of majoritarianism, has led to the political disenfranchisement of Muslims. Non-BJP parties, worried that putting up Muslim candidates will only polarise the electorate, to be “tactically prudent” also hesitate in supporting Muslim candidates, leading to a further dip in representation. This is a disturbing situation, for if the country’s principal minority begins losing faith in the power of electoral democracy to win them their rights and voice, it will lead to extremism on one side and apathy on the other. Political parties, especially the BJP, must change course.


Keep An Eye On Pakistan

Hindustan Times Editorial

Nov 17, 2020

The timing of two events that occurred last week — an intense exchange of fire along the Line of Control (LoC) triggered by ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces and Pakistan’s release of a dossier with so-called evidence of terror allegedly sponsored by India — have led to specul-ation about the intentions of Pakistan’s leadership. It is speculated that both developments were part of Islamabad’s efforts to influence the incoming United States administration led by President-elect Joe Biden on the Kashmir issue and India-Pakistan relations. The artillery and small arms exchanges along LoC on November 13 killed nine people on the Indian side and retaliatory firing by the Indian side destroyed several bunkers and logistics facilities on the Pakistani side, putting further strain on the 2003 ceasefire. Just a day after the hostilities on LoC, Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership released the so-called “terror dossier” that claimed Indian intelligence operatives were engaged in terror activities directed against Islamabad.

The Donald Trump administration had imposed some of the harshest punishments on Pakistan for its support to terrorist groups, with security assistance worth billions of dollars suspended since 2018. Despite meetings between Mr Trump and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, there was no significant breakthrough in ties between the two countries. Perhaps, Pakistan now believes it can capitalise on its role in getting the Taliban to agree to peace talks with Washington to refashion its relationship with the US under the new administration. If that is the case, the developments on LoC and the “terror dossier” make sense from Islamabad’s perspective.

Still, these acts are in line with Pakistan’s real position on terror. Its unprovoked ceasefire violations along LoC are aimed at providing cover to terrorists, attempting to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir. The strain on the LoC truce has increased in recent years. Pakistan’s “terror dossier” found few takers in the world community, which has watched with concern as terrorist attacks and incidents in places, ranging from Myanmar’s Rakhine State to Europe, were found to have some Pakistani connection. Pakistan’s latest gambit has come at a time when Mr Khan is grappling with pressing domestic issues, from severe economic problems to greater cohesion in efforts by the opposition aimed at unseating him. Mr Khan should focus on setting his own house in order instead of making futile attempts to stir the Kashmir pot.


Pakistan’s ‘Dossier’: A Bid To Shift Focus From Imran’s Failures?

By Smita Sharma

17 Nov 2020

For the second consecutive day on Monday, 16 November, the Imran Khan government alleged India of active ‘planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and execution of terrorist activities against Pakistan’. “The presence of ISIL and AQIS in India as highlighted in recent UN reports indicate that India is emerging as a hotbed of UN-designated international terrorist organisations and posing a great risk to the region,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson in Islamabad.

The Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi had rubbished a day earlier Pakistan’s efforts to paint itself as the ‘victim of terror’ and India as the ‘perpetrator’.

“We have seen media reports on a press conference by the Pakistani establishment. This is yet another futile anti-India propaganda exercise. The so-called claims of ‘proof’ against India enjoy no credibility, are fabricated and represent figments of imagination,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

On Sunday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi shared the dais with military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar in a press conference, an uncommon sight, accusing Indian intelligence agencies of operating from across the Afghanistan border as it planned terror strikes against the country.

The civilian minister and the uniformed spokesperson, in a dramatic media appearance, among scores of charges also accused India of trying to target Chinese investments in Pakistan and PoK and sponsoring banned organisations including UN-designated terrorist groups Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Baluch Liberation Army.

“We have irrefutable facts that we will present before the nation and international community through this dossier,” Qureshi claimed referring to a dossier prepared by the Pakistani government and establishment to be shared with the United Nations, OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) and the veto-wielding P5 members of the UN Security Council.

Incidentally, the joint press conference comes at a time when Imran Khan is facing the wrath of an united opposition which has been calling him as the ‘selected’ and not ‘elected’ prime minister, accusing him of having won the 2018 general elections through military interference.

The event was held on a day when controversial elections were being held for 23 seats of the legislative assembly in Gilgit-Baltistan, which India had rejected earlier as an illegal step to try to change status quo of the occupied region.

And the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement), an alliance of 11 opposition parties formed on 20 September, is drawing massive crowds amid the COVID-19 pandemic to its protests rallies – part of an ‘action plan’ to oust the Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government. These rallies have been held in Gujranwala, Karachi, Quetta as well as Imran Khan’s stronghold of Swat.

The alliance, including the four big opposition parties of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Pakistan People’s Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur), and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, along with some smaller ones like the Baloch National Party and the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), are channelising increasing public discontent at price rise, inflation, joblessness and economic downslide that the country is grappling with.

“A heartfelt thanks to the people of my hometown for coming out in such large numbers. This was a referendum that demanded justice for all past incidents of state terrorism & announced a refusal to be used as cannon fodder in State's future war projects #PashtunLongMarch2MiranShah,” tweeted Mohsin Dawar , a member of the National Assembly heading PTM, on Sunday.

While the National Accountability Bureau has been accused of targeting scores of opposition leaders including the bigwigs on allegations of graft under political pressure, be it Bilawal Bhutto or Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the opposition is mincing no words in its attacks against Imran Khan.

In a first, the opposition has also attacked the army and ISI chiefs by name.

PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, who is living in London in exile following his ouster as PM after the Supreme Court held him guilty for corruption, for the first time earlier in October 2020, directly named Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI head Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for ‘interfering’ in the 2018 to install the ‘puppet regime’ of Imran Khan. Sharif was addressing a joint rally organised by the opposition in Gujranwala via video conferencing.

On the other hand, as with the economy and power supply situation, Imran Khan is struggling with his coalition partners as well.

The PMLQ, whose support is crucial for PTI in the crucial Punjab province, chose to stay away from a luncheon meeting hosted by the prime minister earlier in November as per local media reports. And the direct attacks on the ISI head as well as Army Chief – who is currently on an extension of his term – has hardly helped the situation.

Pakistan Is Yet To Get Sympathy On Its Anti-India Campaign

It is this interplay of domestic politics that Indian officials are pointing at as the reason for Pakistan’s dramatic dossier outburst. “The press conference was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Pakistani establishment to shift focus from its internal political and economic failures. It also seeks to justify cross-border terrorism, including ceasefire violations and infiltration across the LoC and IB,” the MEA spokesperson added on Monday in his response.

Sources in Delhi meanwhile also denied any existence of certain intelligence officials that Pakistan has named in its dossier, and maintain that the Indian ambassador in Afghanistan travels only to oversee ‘India aided development projects’.

Pakistan, which has in the past tried submitting similar dossiers outlining India’s alleged role in subversion activities in Balochistan, is yet to meet with any sympathetic international response or solidarity on the issue.

Shifting focus to India will hardly be of help in getting off the grey list hook of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Perhaps in anticipation of a cold response once again, Qureshi on Sunday chose to say that “whether world powers acknowledge it or not, India is a threat to the entire region.”


Smita Sharma is an independent journalist

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The New Age Islam neither endorses nor is responsible for them.



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