The New Indian Express (TNIE) on Sunday said that they have decided to suspend IPL coverage in the newspaper with immediate effect till a semblance of normalcy is restored.
The statement from the editor read, “India is going through its worst case of Covid pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling, many in vain, to exercise their right to live, as a ramshackle universal healthcare system proves that it has no answers to the challenges posed by a creepy bug. The health ministry’s daily bulletin of fresh, positive cases and fatalities has hit the stratosphere, so have SOS messages from individuals and hospitals seeking oxygen refill and life-saving medicines. Most of us already have friends or relatives who have succumbed to COVID-19 or are battling for life. In such a tragic time, we find it inappropriate that the festival of Cricket is on in India, with layers of bio-bubbles creating protection.”
“This is commercialism gone crass. The problem is not with the game but its timing. Cricket, too, must accept that we are going through an unprecedented crisis. In the circumstances, The New Indian Express has decided to suspend IPL coverage in the newspaper. This is a small gesture towards keeping the nation’s attention focused on life and death issues. We are sure that our readers will see the point. These are times when we must stand as one nation with one resolve,” the statement further read.
India’s COVID cases stand at 17,306,300 with 195,116 deaths.
Speaking to Medianews4u on TNIE’s decision to suspend the IPL coverage, R. Jai Krishna, Secretary-General, News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), said, “I respect the drastic move by The New Indian Express to suspend coverage of the ongoing Indian Premier League, to focus on more news regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects. At the same time, we need to consider that news media are now being consumed both for their information and entertainment content. While there is a global initiative for ‘stay at home; stay safe,’ it is imperative for news media to provide enough content to the reader as a respite factor.”
According to Jai Krishna, News media could limit the coverage of IPL to the last few pages/columns but not deny the reader of his entertainment quotient. Especially when content such as IPL both on television and OTT platforms keep audiences glued to their screen at home.
“Despite the crisis posed by the pause in ratings by BARC that has caused a decline in revenue on one side, and increase in spending to provide news and information to the audiences, news channel members of News Broadcasters Federation have maintained a healthy balance of news on Covid-19 and other content to keep the viewer engaged,” he added.
“It is a fact that we are going through a major healthcare crisis. The images we see every day are heart-rending. I feel very strongly that the election rallies right through April were completely avoidable and reprehensible. Yet I did not see any media house either blanking our coverage or putting notes on both sides squarely on the mat when their correspondents were allowed to have pride of place with exclusive interviews with the leaders during the roadshows,” said Ramesh Narayan, an industry veteran and Mancom Member India Chapter International Advertising Association(IAA).
He further explained that a sporting event cannot be compared with a State election.
”We are talking about the effect of these rallies without any Covid protocols as against the effect of holding a cricket match with complete Covid protocols. The selective blackout of one event as against not even a whimper of direct protest against the irresponsible behaviour of netas is surprising. I urge the media to use their reach and influence to amplify meaningful messages that remove vaccine hesitancy or promote responsible Covid behaviour. Positive action is the call of the day,” he concluded.