Monday, August 16, 2004

basic incompetence

If there's a better argument that government and media don't go together unless one is lambasting or lampooning the other than Doordarshan's Olympics coverage, I don't know what it is. The state-owned TV channel's coverage has been so bad that I've actually broken out laughing during the broadcasts.

(1) They use an absolutely hilarious fade-in screen for the various sports. For those of you away from India, it has the title of the next event (say, "Women's Gymnastics") written in a font nobody has used since the initial enthusiasm for desktop publishing wore off, surrounded by (I'm deadly serious here) clip art. That's right. Just the stuff they used to sell in little cut-out books for my high school newspaper, so we could put some "graphic element" on the pages when none of our photos turned out.

(2) The studio backdrop is even funnier.

(3) They commit the most amateur technical blunders without apology. For example, during women's gymnastics, the studio people will cut away to women's swimming on camera, but the audio will continue with the gymnastics commentary. This will continue for 15 minutes before anyone notices. Without fail, the channel will opt for an insignificant contest over a significant one, as in when they cut away from a compelling upset of a Polish boxer seeded for the bronze medal to show the last five minutes of a women's basketball game between the USA and New Zealand, in which the USA was 50 points ahead. 50 points! (This might not seem that insurmountable, if you didn't know that New Zealand didn't manage to score 50 points in the whole game.... which means they could play for the duration of a whole game without the USA scoring another point and still not catch up....) But the most infuriating, to the mad boxing fan: DD will stay on boxing through the third and the fourth round of a bout, find out who wins, and then keep us watching for the five minutes it takes to announce the judges for the next match--almost as long as a match lasts. Then, just before the fight begins, they'll cut away to the studio commentary.

(4) Which is the most pathetic of all. Some brain trust has decided that DD needs to educate the viewers in the basics of all the sports -- we know how well this works from USA soccer broadcasts or Mandira Bedi's cricket commentary -- so they force us to listen to the most inane drivel imaginable, first in English and then paraphrased in Hindi, usually separated and punctuated by long, awkward pauses, during which the anchors look at each other in quiet desperation. I rank these guys--the channel seems to have an endless stable of incompetents--well below the play-by-play that the communications class at my provincial high school provided for the school's basketball games on "Chelsea Radio." This is like watching Bob Ross (the white afro guy of The Joy of Painting) do sports.

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