Why is TV so loud?

IBNLive Blog - Dec 01, 2012

Every evening when I switch on the television, I am confronted with loud noise. Be it a television serial or a news program, the noise levels are so high that one wonders whether TV can ever be at a lower pitch with less drama around. Even though TV producers are the ones who need to be taking corrective action, there is also an analogy that viewers need to decide what to watch since their viewership drives content and the way its presented.

One of the primary sources of high decibel levels, at least in the day, is the television soap operas. With high octane drama and swiftly changing visuals, it compels the viewer to stay glued through the soap opera. The high octane drama is often accompanied by ravaging sound with negative emotions all through the soap opera. This drama logic often perplexes me. While I understand that householders need some avenue for entertainment, I cannot understand why should it involve such high pitched soap operas? Why is the tone of the language used always negative? This does not just stop with the householder; it gets to most shows across TV including news channels.

There are some news channels that thrive on playing the audacity game to such an extent that, amidst all the noise around, the viewer barely gets any clarity on the core issues of the debate. With more than 4 to 5 panelists for a discussion and with almost all of them with little sense of debate decorum, you are confronted with people not engaging with ideas but destroying each other's right to even talk on the show! The worst part of this loudness is when the anchor declares his view point first up and runs the show in line with his very viewpoint for 1.5 hours! The western contemporaries are much better off in this regard. An example would be the GPS show by Fareed Zakaria. It is very classic, it is low tempered, it has discussions and debates with fewer people (who are concerned directly with the issue) and despite all this, it covers the most complex issues across the globe including Asia and the Middle East. A very good contemporary Indian example of such a show would be "The World View" which is elegant and has substance. Complexity of issues does not mean one goes about literally bashing each other on television, quite a large number of primetime debate shows end up being a tit for tat contests. While there needs some moderation on the part of the show producers, the blame lies also on the participants of these shows, who are indeed a reflection of a large section of society.

Though I don't want to be judgmental, if we look around us in terms of our day to day activities, it involves aggressiveness and noise all the way. Be it the morning squabble with your watchman, or the fight at the market place, or the arguments while driving and squeezing past everyone; everything involves chaos and it involves impulsive high decibel arguments. It is almost natural for us to be aggressive since we got through the process daily in our activities. However, the question is, is this intrinsic aggression making us enjoy the high decibel shows on TV? If we are not enjoying it, then why do some soaps have the highest ratings? Why are people still watching television shows even though some of them seem extremely theatrical and loud? Answer seems simple; at some level people love the action that they get to see. Most of us seem curious to see the drama that is unfolding during the debates and not the issues that are being debated about. This drama is a catch for a substantial portion of the population since that is how they live most of their daily lives. Society needs to redefine civility in our day to day interactions and at the grassroots; this would redefine our mindsets and urge us to not accept over the top loud content that is not needed. Virtues such as intolerance to one's views could also be eliminated if there is a basic civility in our day to day activities. The loud programming that you see on television often becomes an extension of the combative atmosphere that we engage in our day to day activities. While I understand that television as a whole is responsible for this, isn't this also a reflection of the societies "wants" since viewership drives content? Wouldn't it be wiser if one switches away from the channels that provide more sensationalism than substance? The solution to this probably lies at making our daily lives less combative and more civil so that we start moving away from watching more drama than substance.

At a time when television is exploding in the country, it is imperative for it to mature at some level to have less noise and more substance. A cue could be taken from the way television has evolved in developed countries into a more reasonable and mature television discourse either in the form of drama or news. The viewers, on their part, probably need to reduce the noise around their lives and use their discretion to switch TV channels that are loud in nature.

Only time will tell how TV matures.

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