Dissertation Abstracts

Media Discourse in Contemporary India: A Study of Select News Channels

Author: Sudeshna Devi, sudeshnau1@gmail.com
Department: Center for the Study of Social Systems
University: Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
Supervisor: Prof. Maitrayee Chaudhuri
Year of completion: 2019
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Television News , Democracy , Discourse , Audience
Areas of Research: Communication, Knowledge and Culture


The present study takes its cue from this role of media as an agency of framing public opinion in democratic societies. It seeks to showcase, how television news media, through the systematic process of production, representation and consumption of media texts, produces narratives that offer a commentary on the issues in the public domain. The study is set in the context of the evolving television news industry in India. The advent of structural reforms in 1991 ushered in significant transformations in content, practices, technologies and modes of consumption. The study highlights some of the key trends, namely, market-reliant revenue model, skewed regulation policies, social media changing content policy, digital news websites, that impinge on the structure and mode of operation of television news media in contemporary India. Within the contemporary television news media space, the study looks into the process of framing public discourse by two private national news channels, NDTV 24x7 and Aaj Tak. This is done by critically looking into process and techniques of production and representation of current affairs programmes such as studio debates, panel discussions, audience talk shows and documentaries. This apparently dialogical mode of communication, has made a radical shift, from the predominantly one way dissemination of information, to an interactive format where the focus is to analyze, investigate and explore the why, how and what of such everyday events and occurrences. One also looks at how such programmes are consumed by the audience, citizens of Indian democracy, and importantly, located in diverse social settings. By juxtaposing, the production, representation and consumption of media texts, an attempt is made to understand the nature of the mediated public discourse in contemporary India. The study has identified some key internal (ownership of the institution, its editorial policies, the organizational structuring, work ethics, revenue model) and external factors (social media, market, state policies, media regulations, viewership base) that influence the discourse (s) in the two news channels. All these aspects together help in understanding how media networks are influenced by internal (ownership of the institution, its editorial policies, the organizational structuring, work ethics, revenue model) and external factors (social media, market, state policies, media regulations) that frame their discourse (s). These mediatized discourses circulated by the news channels, are also reflective of the wider socio-political climate prevailing in the country. History is witnessed to the fact that Indian media has always been reflective of the social and political exigencies, prevalent at various junctures, in the history of the nation. In contemporary times too, a large section of the media has become a part of the hegemonic right-wing political milieu, trying to silence critical voices. A major chunk of mediated discourses are laced with majoritarian ideas and beliefs. The dominant trend, to debate and deliberate every issue, through the lens of hyper nationalism, seems to override the formation of any informed and reasoned public discourse. It also raises questions on the role of media as the fourth pillar of democracy.