Girl Child Issues Need More Attention From Telugu TV Channels
UNICEF Awards encourage Telugu TV Channels to improve gender focus in their programs on the eve of the National Girl Child Day
By Vikas Verma
HYDERABAD, India , 23 January, 2010 – The recent political turmoil has had a direct impact on the coverage of social issues around girl child in the recent months. After monitoring the programs of fifteen Telugu TV channels for seventy days, a UNICEF report has found that only 0.4 per cent of prime time viewing was devoted to programs highlighting girl child issues.
Launched on November 3, 2009 under the “UNICEF - Television for social change initiative”, the report based on extensive monitoring also revealed that few programs broke the norm and stood out because of their content and creativity. Based on the review by a five member Jury headed by Dr. V.S.Rama Devi, former Governor of Karnataka, these programs were presented UNICEF AWARDS.
For its overall performance during the period, Doordarshan Saptagiri was presented with the ‘Award for the Channel Most Concerned for Girl Child’. In all twelve awards were distributed to various producers from seven channels out of seventeen under review.
Congratulating the winners Mr. N, Kirankumar Reddy, Speaker of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly said: “I congratulate UNICEF for this unique programme and the winners. I hope that the channels are encouraged after receiving UNICEF awards not to forget the girl child in their programs.”
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Michel Saint–Lot, Chief of UNICEF Hyderabad Office said that, “Television has the essential and avowed duty to fight discrimination against women and girls in their programs because unless it is addressed as part of overall strategies to improve child and maternal health, high rates of maternal and child mortality will remain stubbornly entrenched.”
The program also saw adolescent girls from Iqra School in the old city of Hyderabad presenting the play Aglay Janam Mohay Bitiya Na Kijiyo …..” (O Lord! Don’t make me a girl child in my next birth). Moved by the play, Mrs. Amala Akkineni, Chairperson Blue Cross & Girl Child Rights supporter felicitated the crew members and said, “The best way to address girl child issues is to educate all the girls. Education empowers girls to tackle their issues on their own, as these young girls have shown”.
Presenting the jury report, Dr. V. S. Rama Devi commented that channels were allotting more time to atrocities and crime on the girl child but not devoting proper attention to the underlying causes of these and other issues faced by the girl child. While appreciating the investigative reporting of the channels with respect to the case of ‘Sambhavi’ she observed that “… several initiatives by the Central and State Governments intended for the betterment of the girl child have not been properly highlighted by the channels.”
Nine news channels, seven entertainment channels and one dedicated channel for monitoring the girl child programs were identified. The nine news channels were ETV2, TV9, TV5, NTV, Sakshi, Gemini News, I-News, HMTV and Zee 24 Gantalu. The seven entertainment channels were ETV, Gemini, Teja, MAA, Sitara, Zee Telugu and Doordarshan (Saptagiri) and the lone dedicated channel was Vanita.
The prime time programs were monitored by CMS - Centre for Media Studies, everyday between 7.00 to 10.0 PM from 3 November 2009 to 10 January 2010. A total of 3519 hours of recording was made which contained 112 programs running into 14.10 hours on girl child issues.
The Jury held six meetings where all the recorded programs on girl child were screened. The Jury examined a total of 89 stories of news channels and 23 programs of other channels. Other members of the Jury are; former Station Director of All India Radio Dr. P. S. Gopala Krishna; Broadcaster and Writer Dr. C. Mrinalini; Professor of Law in Nalsar University Dr. M. Sridhar and Media Analyst Dr. Nagasuri Venugopal.
The stereotypical imagery of women projected by the daily dose of film based television programs doesn’t help the cause. UNICEF believes that using its emotive appeals, television can play an important role in bringing in the correct perspective on these issues as well as bringing about important behavioral change.
It is hoped that the awards will encourage Telugu Television channels to improve their discourse in their regular prime time programs on issues affecting the girl child.
The Awards winners were as follows: