The 9 PM News Block!

My family is full of News junkies. Has always been.

My earliest memory of the television is the Samachar and News in English at 8pm on Doordarshan. A melancholic looking Sunil Tandon would read the day's top stories and leave within 15 minutes to make space for the even more melancholic looking Salma Sultan. 

I distinctly remember a fine winter evening in 1994, when the 8 pm news was delayed by 4 minutes and my Dad commented that something big was up. We waited with bated breath as the anchor announced the demise of an ex-President of India. This was followed by a national holiday and 10 days of mourning and non stop Pandit Bismillah Khan's Shehnai on TV. For a 7 year old, the choice was quite simple - A day's holiday or 10 days without Shriman Shrimati. After that incident, every time the news got delayed even by a few seconds, I prayed fervently for the well-being of every President alive on earth. Wonder how many lives I saved!

And then gradually, as bedtime shifted, we moved to the 9pm news. The World This Week had made an entry into our lives and for the first time ever, we realized that news anchors need not necessarily look sad. The bearded Roys and Menons had registered their presence and it didn't help one bit that one of their wives was a hugely loved Geography teacher at our school. 

Two years later, the unimaginable happened. We got Cable. Shudder. 
Suddenly, there was an influx of news. A million news channels, with a gazillion news anchors, and infinite opinions. Who are we kidding? We enjoyed this. We lapped up the excess information and every tea-table conversation was marred by opinions thrust on us by these anchors. The war reporters were heroes. And heroines. For years, they enjoyed this privileged position of being, not news readers, but news makers.

Then they crossed the line. So much, that today, 9 pm holds no significance for me or my family. Because, today, news isn't about what just happened, but about why it happened, how it happened and most of all, what will happen next. It's about the war of channels, in out-shouting the other, in being the "first to break the news", in bringing "exclusives".

What if I don't want to know? What if, for some weird reasoning, all I want to know is the news? What if, I don't give a rat's ass, as to what the anchor considers his analysis? What if, I actually think I am smart enough to form my own opinion, and do not need hand holding by over-imposing loud men? What if, after a whole day's work, all I am looking for is 15 minutes of news?

Do you blame me if I switch to the good old Doordarshan every once in a while? Which is precisely what happened yesterday. I watched the good old Doordarshan, with a melancholic looking Manjari Joshi, reading the day's top news stories in precise 15 minutes and then moving on to the News for the Deaf and Dumb.

15 minutes of peace and quiet.

15 minutes of the 9 pm News.

Sigh. Nostalgia.

Signing out,


  1. My that made me nostalgic! How times change!

  2. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    True! Very true!

  3. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    Well, yeah. Internet has started playing spoiltsport for news! I like the part about Faking News. :P

  4. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    Exactly! No idea when this influx happened. But seriously, it's almost as if DD is untouched by time! They are exactly where we left them off! :)

  5. information is lost in the garbage of tv channels and websites and social media...

  6. Now-a-days I get to know all the news through Facebook. Be it EarthQuake. Be it cricket or CWG. Be it Political Scam. Everything. though in a somewhat cluttered form. Not complaining as long as I get to kNOw. As a matter of fact, Faking News keeps me more updated on Current happenings than any news channel.

    But Yeah... The days of 9 P.M Slot. *Sigh* Especially for those of us who spent their childhood in India in the 90's :)

  7. News on DD was what I watched every single day. And could not figure out where and when did I stop to along the line. What you wrote is exactly what happened. There were too many news channels talking about too much stuff for too long for me to even care after a while.

  8. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    Glad you agree! :)

  9. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    Ooooooh yes. We are taking this offline! :D

  10. Oh we had the same story! Worse, my dad would ensure we watched some part of the news each day, atleast the headlines :(
    But yeah, fun times. Oh btw, I did manage to find out where you're off to, with my superior investigation skills :P! And was curious about the stay bit :D Might want to take it offline ;)

  11. Blame? Naaa! I am with u on that too!
    Like u said, who wants every Tom, Dick and Harry's analysis after all! Hmmpf!

  12. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    :) Yeah! Doordarshan was the poster boy/girl of the 90's. I wish things could get as simple as they were back then! Sigh.

  13. You made me so nostalgic! I think all of us who've lived through the 90's could relate to your post. And news is just not the same anymore.

  14. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    Oh. My. God.
    Look who just showed up on my Blog! :) :) :)
    Welcome back, girl!

  15. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    Well, you are lucky you have the option! :)
    Most of us cannot ignore these channels because the general entertainment channels are worse! I wish DD had better PR!

  16. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    Thank you, Ajay! Glad you agree. Though, I have to say, even Hindu is letting me down with its constant bickerings and family issues!

  17. We used to here the marathi news at 7 pm :D. How I miss them :(. Don't remember having seen them in such a long time..

  18. Totall understand. The worst part is that in all this hysteria of getting the latest news etc somwhere somehow the NEWs is lost .. its like lost in translation...

    I make it a point to listen to morning news here and then the news at 10 at night, I did have subscrition to indian channels but within a month or so I had enough of it , because of the repetition of news, its like its on constant repeat , and sometimes the video behind is not what the news man is saying.. I have totally gone off indian news now, For some reason It has stopped mattering ot me anymore, sad i know but the media is to blame.

    I do read my morning paper online The Tribune every day .. but no more indian channels for me , as such its expensive to subscribe to listen to all this ____.

    Gone are the days of DoorDarshan.. that logo coming up :) and in punjabi they had jullundhar doordarshan.. and the guy with such a husky voice..

    indeed nostalgia ..


  19. You wrote my thoughts exactly. I share the same anguish. I miss good old DD days. So many news channels and most of them rubbish. They have changed the very definition of news and people are subjected to endless trash. Even in print media, the only decent and readable paper is The Hindu. We ought to make those channel-wallahs read this post. Very well written. :)

  20. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    You worked as Consultant for news channels? That must have been terrifying!
    I like your news schedule. Way better than putting up with 24X7 news. I have to think of something too. For now, DD it is!

  21. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    I hope the Presidents are happy! :)
    You should tune in to DD. Much fun their news is! :D

  22. So true, Preeti. I remember my dad criticizing even the perverse adjectification of news when the one-hour Aaj Tak bulletin started before they became a full-fledged channel. It's no surprise then that he has stopped watching news on TV altogether now. I lost all faith in them because I have worked closely as a consultant with some of the big news networks as clients. Once you get to see what their priorities are, it's tougher to fool yourself.

    I switch to Doordarshan for the Sat/Sun afternoon slot, subscribe to Time (for world news and better shaped opinions) and read just the headlines of any of the two newspapers we get. It's more than enough, without having to deal with Arnab or Rajdeep's hysteria.

  23. dropzofjupiterFriday, May 27, 2011

    Lol...i am sure the presidents are extremely grateful for your prayers my dear. But seriously nobody tunes into the news anymore. Hmmm maybe i need to tune into Doordarshan...used to love the news for the Dumb and Deaf and pretend that i had learnt while watching it

  24. My that made me nostalgic! How times change!

  25. theothersideoflifeFriday, May 27, 2011

    :) But DD hasn't changed one bit! :)

  26. Aah.... Doordarshan days -- those were the days.
    Agree with you on how cable TV has changed our lives! At times, its an overload of entertainment, news, reality shows and what nots!

    These days, we've slowly shifted a rising interest back to Dooradarshan. Simple to the extend of boring, but so reassuring!! :)

  27. You're so right - all these news channels just overdid their bit. Now I don't watch any news. I just read the paper! I can deal with stale news.

  28. "today, news isn't about what just happened, but about why it happened, how it happened and most of all, what will happen next. It's about the war of channels, in out-shouting the other, in being the "first to break the news", in bringing exclusives." - So utterly and completely true! Instead of simply reading the news with a neutral mindset, these "reporters" (dunno why they are called so, when they do everything except reporting the news) try to thrust upon their own viewpoint and perspective on the gullible audience.

    Also, look at the standard of stories which are classified as "Breaking News" - A model beats up her husband in public, aliens are taking away cows from Australia, and what not! Pathetic.

    As always, well written!

  29. theothersideoflifeTuesday, May 31, 2011

    Seriously! Television in general has become very trite. Especially with all these reality shows. Over dose is the right word.
    I love DD too! Glad there are others who enjoy this! :)

  30. theothersideoflifeTuesday, May 31, 2011

    Haha! Yeah! Stale news is any day better than Fake news! :)

  31. theothersideoflifeTuesday, May 31, 2011

    Thank you! You are right man. The breaking news stories are utterly disgusting. And Hindi channels more so!

  32. Completely in consent with you.You have penned the thaughts for many :)

  33. theothersideoflifeMonday, June 06, 2011

    Thanks Nidhi! :)

  34. I remember how I waited for the regional 7p.m. samachaar to end so that I can watch some entertaining shows - Shreeman-Shreemati, Zubaan Sambhal ke etc etc

    Those were the days! when news was just news. Crisp and Precise - but I was always impatiently waiting for it to end and wondering how these grown-ups could remember all the lines they were reciting, that too without any goof up!

  35. theothersideoflifeThursday, June 09, 2011

    So sweet! Even I used to think they had learnt up the lines. Good old days! :)
    Welcome here! :)

  36. we watch DD a lot these days too! the anchors are all human, as opposed to the heavily panting, frothing bulls on the other 24 / 7 news channels.

    and I find the dull colors very soothing. The 24/7 news channels have every inch of their space occupied - with red and black - with flash news - with text running - with people who are so keen on saying something that they don't realize that they have repeated the same sentence 5 times already.

  37. theothersideoflifeWednesday, July 27, 2011

    Oh I was going to write about the bright colours and then thought it would feel like I crib too much! :D

  38. OMG!!!! How can I forget Salma Sultan....brought back so many memories


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