Pitroda, who is also the Chairman of an Expert Committee set up to review the functioning of India's largest public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, said public media is not in tune with the technological developments. (Agencies)
"In India, media has changed in the last decade like everywhere else. From my perspective, it bothers me because the conversation today is not about development, nation building, and real concerns about the needs of people. Conversation in media is more about cricket, Bollywood and gossip," he said at a Google Hangout session.
Adding that the Internet has changed business models, delivery systems and content for media, Pitroda said that the "key question then remains who makes the news".
"I believe public media everywhere is just not in tune with the change in technology. In India particularly, we do recognize that private media has grown substantially and as a result public media, inspite of the fact that it has far bigger reach, it doesn't have the kind of richness in content that people are looking for," he said.
Actor Nandita Das, also a part of the Hangout, said the political discussion on television is not in-depth as media chooses to run down someone and often thrusts "certain perspectives" onto viewers. She added that urban-centric news takes centrestage, even in newspapers these days.
Pitroda also expressed concern on the nature of debates on television saying these become "very personal" and people often fail to distinguish between an idea and an individual.
"Everyone gets connected with their idea and they think if you don't like their idea, you don't like that person. It’s not a very balanced discussion, it’s always fights. The level of their voice is so high, everyone is angry and irritated. It’s not a genuine discussion, it’s an argument," he added.
Pitroda was also worried about the trend of "trial by media".
"I don't think trial by media is a valid thing. Media decided you have made a mistake. Some anchors say you answer the public as if you are in the court. They have their own views and they become prominent and rather than being fair, they take sides," he added.
He further said there is too much emphasis on people rather than on vernacular media.
Citing an example, Pitroda said FM radio can be used as a vehicle for communication for developmental news.
"In a country of 1.3 billion people, there is a lot of local news. And people hardly get to hear that. It’s more about petty politics. My main concern is how to bring development agenda to newsrooms in the country," he said.
On the role of public and private media, he said money should not be allowed to dictate content, whether it is owned by private sector or the government.
"The whole purpose of media is to have to some extent unbiased news which is not propaganda. Of course, there will be some bias because of editorial background. People also need to be more active on media, we cannot leave media to handful of people because then they get the platform just to promote their own views," Pitroda said.
On self-regulation in media, he said more responsible people are needed, who have broader view of the world and who are willing to "listen to different point of views".
"Self regulation is very important but difficult to accomplish," he added.
Das agreed saying some amount of self regulation is required to ensure that there is some level of unbiased reporting to present a wide range of views.
Pitroda, who is also the Chairman of an Expert Committee set up to review the functioning of India's largest public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, said public media is not in tune with the technological developments.