English-language television news and the great Indian middle class: Made for each other?

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Abstract:

This article highlights the interdependence of the urban Indian middle class and English-language news television in terms of their particular mixing of neo-liberal commercial interests, a newfound lifestyle focus and an assertive nationalism that is largely insular. After a brief analysis of a small sample of billboard advertisements for Indian news outlets in the context of the middle-class audience for news (and advertising), the article then focuses on mapping and identifying the particular values of the emerging Indian middle class and its media. For this, the article draws on Pavan K. Varma’s polemical work on the emergence and failings of the post-liberalization middle class, on Leela Fernandes’ fieldwork and interviews with the media and advertisers, and also on Nalin Mehta’s research on India’s argumentative tradition as remade on 24-hour news television. Mostly, however, the methodological approach here is to deconstruct the news producers’ construction of the middle-class audience through industry interviews and print media commentary, and highlight how this diverges from real-life middle-class complexities and further excludes the lower classes.

Keywords: Indian media; media activism; middle class; neo-liberalism; news advertising; television news

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/safm.4.1.23_1

Affiliations: University of Queensland

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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  • Studies in South Asian Film and Media (SAFM) is the most promising new journal in the field. This peer-reviewed publication is committed to looking at the media and cinemas of the Indian subcontinent in their social, political, economic, historical, and increasingly globalized and diasporic contexts. The journal will evaluate these topics in relation to class, caste, gender, race, sexuality, and ideology.
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