WGBH Roundtable; The Role of Educational Broadcasting in Underdeveloped Areas
The development of broadcasting since World War 2 has been remarkable in any way many ways and I suppose that in developing countries it has followed an equally interesting pattern. Mr. Khan and you have spent a good deal of time traveling in Asia Southeast Asia in recent years. What is your general reaction to the developments in broadcasting in these areas.
Well I think educators in the underdeveloped countries particularly in Asia and India have long been interested in using broadcasting to shop and curiosity to hold attention or to give concrete expression to their ideas.
Radio and Television of course are primarily systems for the transmission of visual and auditory information. But one can use them in many specialized ways. The educational impact is ultimately dependent upon the design and content of each program. Now in Asia governments have been invested immense sums of money in broadcasting plants and really in many cases these broadcasting plants and related cinema plants are often discussed and described in five year plans and other documents.
As for educational purposes the means of implementing mass communication systems for education for community development and so on. However many people such as crow Gluck and others have noted that the size and scope of radio and television installations in relation to the immediate needs of many of these underdeveloped countries suggests that they are rather status symbols. Really perhaps just symbols of a country in a hurry. Things that the country can proudly display. Most underdeveloped countries of course feel impelled to generate internal and external propaganda. I think one of the cases in point for example in terms of the American orbit is south that now a South Korea. But one can think of many other examples where press radio and film have been tremendously expanded to meet government demands. The often urgent pleas of Asian educators for powerful new facilities for mass education are often ignored and broadcasting clients very often. Although originally put into five year plans for educational purposes purposes have been turned around have implications beyond the realm of the purely academic and in many cases the advantages of the broadcasting media are not being used for mass learning purposes but rather for propaganda activities.
A number of the points that you have made to Mr. Conant are most interesting and provocative and we will come back to them in the discussion. Mr Mature It's a pleasure to have you with us. So as a former director general of All India Radio I wonder what your reaction is to the question that has been raised by Mr. Cohen and that in some of the developing countries broadcasting is there sort of a status symbol. Do you feel that All India Radio has served the Indian community something more than a status symbol. Has it made a significant contribution insofar as broadcasting cand to the developments in this particular developing society.
Well I have heard it said that in some countries in Africa region broadcasting is used it is dangerous. Ali do you celebrated your silver jubilee in 1960 and broadcasting in India it was 30 years old and 1950s. It's obvious that the question of it being a status symbol does not arise as a matter of fact All India Radio has not been used adequately and in a minute lively manner for a political party or political education or political influence become plaint against all India they do is they does not suffer efficiently and instrument of political thought and force.
But it is in a sense an inference of education. But more than that it is a forum for the expression and continuance of the very gifted culture of India which in a country with 14 national languages and. Fifty six dialects and 81 tribal languages in which I can get into Prague are streets audiences with two systems of music. Four schools of dancing and various kinds of literatures is I think important if not for anything else for the expression of the urges of the people in fields other than politics and in a larger sense. I would be inclined to call that education in a more restricted sense of formal education of the use of broadcasting for formal education. The earliest attempts to date to nineteen hadn't had to six.
And the school broadcast began pretty early. And yet I shared the exact sense of exasperated felt by a lot of Rita in the 20s exasperated over the apathy or seeming apathy of the educationists using this powerful instrument of education. But I realize the implications and I think knew we could go into it why it was until recently not possible to put it to better advantages uses for formal education. But I thought as a preliminary statement this observation might serve as basis.
How would you feel about the broadcasting system of your neighbors Pakistan. So on and so on would you feel that the opinions that you've expressed about All India Radio were part of their system of broadcasting also.
Pakistan is really part of one day they do until 1947. And I think by and large Pakistan until recently follow the same policy. It's only very recently that they decided to have commercial broadcasting there the government of Sudan has a very straightforward policy it wanted money for its home Saudi national noncommercial service and it found that it could get money by having much the same estatic to attend so I think so far as the home audiences and home societies are concerned the attitude of all these three governments has been similar and it needs to be lead to the British times and in the eternities the dead member of communication.
Why All India Radio should not be a commercial service for that I'm afraid is a different proposition altogether.
I really meant that this particular use all the radio for the general cultural and educational purposes was shared by the whole subcontinent and to some extent by state law.
But I'm very interested that you refer was such nostalgia in a sense to the British experience because a pre-war director of only no real live Internet Business tells us is not very much of our own affair already.
I don't know all the other part of it. BBC is changing isn't it.
Yeah but you know the pre-war director general of All India Radio Lionel Felder horse or fiend and fiend and I love the British Broadcasting Corporation described his four years of strenuous effort as as an AS enough to make a cat laugh.
It was the biggest flop of all time.
Yes well here I am not well it is years after they leave a legacy to us. Yes well why he may have felt a flop was sad but definitely he didn't know that he was doing a good service to the country.
The criticism has been made and Mr. Conant has reflected it. I think that in those countries where the British in particular established broadcasting before independence that the traditions of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Were so pervasive that after independence the broadcasting organizations were not able to get away from the pattern which the British had established even though that pattern may not necessarily have fitted in best with the new movements and the new developments in the new revolutionary surges that were emerging after independence in developing countries. I wonder Mr. Mann Mathur whether you feel the power turned that All India Radio has followed in the last decade since independence has in fact been a pattern which conforms with the indigenous cultural life of India or rather perhaps it may still have within it larger vestiges of the British influence and experience that would be true with other segments of Indian society.
I have no interest in far to find it. It is no doubt a very much bigger deal than it was in those days. The one biggest change that has occurred is the greater emphasis upon regional considers regional literature regional language.
In those days when under British rule the idea was really to have four major stations and more centralized kind of programming on this.
But if you mean the management of the All India Radio the noncommercial nature of the control that is a very very different decision in which we are still with the BBC.
Well I I yes and I'm thinking partly of the content of the programming is for example programming under All India Radio at the moment. Is it a means of transmitting what is still preeminently Western cultural model. Or does All India Radio really make an effort to meet the demands of Indian society and its cross-cultural aspects. Is All India Radio bridging the various cultural groups that exist within the country. I have a feeling that the the the British or the British Broadcasting Corporation tradition was in a sense a sort of a monolithic tradition which was geared to a society that was in itself rather more unified than the various segments of English or rather of Indian culture. And I sometimes wonder when I read about and look at broadcasting in Africa and in Asia whether in fact this pattern is in fact the best pattern in order to keep broadcasting your head off the developments that are taking place culturally technologically etc. in these new societies I'm thinking of the programming of All India Radio primarily at the moment.
Well first about this ordinary idea of trying to bridge the gulf among the various cultures or wrong to force sterling among the various cultures. I think there are radio has definitely turned the new line.
And my recollection is that the whole basis of national programs of drama of features of music is to make the culture of one region new to other regions and all of the Radiohead is three or four days in the week.
Two or three hours specially earmarked for this kind of what are known as mashing programs is very interesting in the sense that the masters can be prepared in the written language along with the recordings of effects and then they're to be translated into him and English and trance literate it into the other languages and sent out so that at the same time the same bully or originating say from Caroline would be broadcast throughout the country under this national programme.
Likewise in the Light Programme they have introduced is Services 957 which is known as the All India variety program which consists of half or more of film songs but the rest is devoted to recordings of folk music and like music in various languages and broadcast in it along with the coming tree. So both in the higher programs as well as the popular programs. This attempted act of making the cultures of different parts known and projecting it in an all-India.
This scene has been attempted and I think it has had a very good effect on the whole. As for the other aspects of monolithic monolithic programming. I think on the whole as figures of all laws DNA programming is reaching it's only because of certain technical considerations that all the news are edited centrally and and broadcast in the best language their news desks of the various languages. But even there they have got regional language but it means so I think our BBC colleagues would find it rather recognisable.
If you share this view Mr. Conan I think it's a very difficult question the national programs that I heard in English reminds me very much of pre-World War 2 BBC programming as did the business of in the news talking about wireless and cricket and other mannerisms which are long gone from BBC but do remain in such countries as India and some on Eric Manno associate professor of Dramatic Arts at Columbia University has recently done a very interesting and provocative book on Indian mass media entitled Indian film.
But it also had a large section on All India Radio.
He feels that All India Radio tend rather towards a food programming Third Programme type of programming that is programming for a very small minority of the intellectual or special interest groups and he puts it this way.
We're out 52 to 57. The uncompromising level of all India's radio programming had a magnificence of its own. It included as an annual event a national symposium of poets something few nations would attempt. It regular broadcast readings in Sanskrit language according to government statistics spoken only by five hundred and fifty five people it organized a music symposium in which musicologists just discussed erudite topics such as the evolution of Hindustani music the national programme of talks broadcast over all stations offered such subjects as modern prose and traditional Sanskrit style adequacy of Indian prose for contemporary needs of expression and intellectual life in pretty British India current contra contra current controversy was shunned the 1956 57 report mentioned with apparent satisfaction that controversial party broadcasts of again been avoided. However the Chief Election Commission delivered free national talks on the desirability of maintaining law and order during the elections and the duties of public servants in connection with the elections and as much more but I think I give you the general tone of BN I was feeling.
I wonder if you'd react to that point of view an argument Dr. burnout had met me when he visited India. But we didn't have an occasion to discuss these views with his I Have. Let's take up some elements in the news up services which would make it more concrete. I mean your all experience and probably his own personal experience from the breast of an English class which is a little more important than transport truck was his spoken and to it by a very small minority of people. And that man out of trees happily attached to particular kind of culture and there what it costs programs of that kind whether it is cricket or it is a shallow curtains. It's worth casting for its audience and I think they are seeing reacting and responding to the audience. Richest Man in this class constitutive is a fraction. But I think not even 5 percent. QUESTION I think I have the figures here. That that is so far as these programs exist. Now this is the other programs of play. It's very strange that poetry is not an interlude not merely an intellectual expression. I heard I have heard if she was sightless of poetry in the love of Harlan in heart but would you believe that it is title of poetry in India attracts 10000 people it is a popular experience an expression of social culture which is a popular middle eastern India. Less about poetry as such about national symposium. Where's the particular item force in the category of the attempts made to make the culture of one park to another. And it's having a limited appeal has the same significance as some of the programs which I've heard only and B C C B S. This specialized programs aimed at a specialized argues there are far.
I think if these these observations have any relation to the old the third program efficacious that is not probably quite the fact may therefore give before you the program pattern of 100 years to it is I think four or five general if you put in Channel 1 you see the first program is this program.
Original programs which is the buck which is the base foundation upon which all its artistry Lee's been set sail. These are the various regional stations broadcast in their various languages and of various kinds to regional audience regional audiences that is the main audience of All India Radio and that is why All India Radio has not been unduly perturbed by the radius involved. Because whatever happens the Bengali will lean on your radio Calcutta. A survey was done it was found that the least listening to the readers in law was in Bangalore which has its own cultural signals specially dedicated culture that is the regional programme The second is the national programme which is a limited audience programme with this specific objective of linking up the various forms of expression. New Third is what you may call this special audiences programmes which are parking connected with the development processes. The programmes for the rural people program through industrial audiences programs been programs for school and the whole host programmes for tribals and various groups in different parts of the country. That occurred which includes also of course the full program of India in the fourth it is this all India Light Programme which is like the late program of the BBC which is carried through and heard throughout the country and until recently it was being carried only on the Shockley. Now it is being carried on an alternative meeting. And the fifth is the informational and news program. That is the new service in which the political broadcasters of me. Now when you when any observation is made about programming you have to take out all the five categories and then too to see how it is being done you see it picking up a few programs have been laid make taking up a few programs of 12 midnight and we see it.
No I agree and I think calling the radio is a much more complex animal to discuss and radio radio career or radio Thailand or radio Saigon.
But nevertheless it is interesting that it has been a comparatively recent development.
The Light Programme and so on and in the 50s for example there seem to be a great deal of emphasis on Indian classical music broadcasting broadcasting for minority groups and so on. And this point of view is not only shared by me but is reflected by burning his book and he noticed Yes I noticed that.
Well I just easy I made he's quite right in saying that between 1950 3 54 and 57 for two years a large number of producers were sort of banished from all of you. That was and every so often but I don't think the episode is really so historical as to deserve more than a passing reference. Classical guitar music the emphasis in classical music is not recent. It's a very old thing in India and in order there and if there was more classical music during those two years three years that was for that reason but even otherwise I think out of 45 percent of music about 23 percent is class. And I have no figures of comparable figures of other broadcasting organisations but I think you know on the radio this classical music is more than a minority service if you have been to India you might have heard of music conferences and you might have heard of any music conferences held in by thousands of people pay for it and be even some standouts hide and seek and just be listening in. It's a it's a reality still fortunately in that the state and partner the passing stake when the gulf between egghead culture and popular culture is not so big and therefore for some time at least it will is to remain a common thing. Incidentally I find taking too much time but I would like to put on record like to say that one in one say research this policy of one of the radio of continuing to cast classical music is timeless. With the going away of the princes in the involves a large number of great masters went out of him. They used to be really supported by the landlords and the INS. And suddenly a guy was creepy. And history will probably record that in that period before Ravi Shankar relapse got recognition in the United States.
Now sums of money coming here during that period it was because of our injury that they were able to maintain and Orrin did step in. Well you may call it as a kind of democracy but true.
Classical music but if it did it is only an incidental set this transitional yet.
Well because of all the BBC Third Programme supported many types Dylan Thomas for example.
Yes yes in the discussion of programming in this country and the problem of the audience would be paramount problems because of the preeminently commercial element in our broadcasting here. Now we have been talking about the introduction of light programming and about the more elite third Britisher BBC Third Programme type of standard in all India Radio.
I'm wondering I was wondering if you were talking Mr. North or about the audience is is it a fact that perhaps the audience available for All India Radio was an audience that wanted the more elitist type of programming. And I'm wondering whether in recent years efforts have been made to enlarge the audience significantly. There are obviously problems here in terms of receiving sets etc. but I'm wondering just what is the nature of the audience for All India Radio at this stage. Who does All India Radio reach.
Oh I think you have raised a very very basic point and I think much of the preliminary discussion is really in the back that well I think in 1946 the total number of radio sets in the country was about one fifth house. The number of states in 1963. If I am right is about three millions if this is sort of definite and distinct an expansion of the of the receiving end. Still considering the large population this is really a very small very small number. And then it is recall that some years ago there was a survey and it was found. Thirty eight percent of the states were in the bigger cities of India. You can really appreciate what the audience was. But as it has been a public service organisation All India Radio particularly since independence has really been conducting itself as if it was also building up the larger audience in the villages which is yet to come.
We should be different from this lead and which will also be the one not necessarily having the same concept of popular culture proctors film is what would you think of commenters burnout and others have alleged the London Times recently that this elite the people who own the bulk are radio search prefer to listen to the hit parade of popular film music from radio salon and all in the written all in the radio.
The survey indicated that juveniles generally prefer radio silence film music as well as film music on that programmes and one of the most popular programs that reduce your lawn is.
I think because the binocular here in our parade and one of the most popular programs of all do is I think the songs that you like and I think all juveniles are very much a test in every country in India. People tend to come to conclusions on the basis of juveniles.
Well in other countries the BBC never includes the US and I think you're quite right that the elite in the town would do like to have a mixture of both with large option light music.
I'm afraid our listeners is not intensive enough. And all these comments whether in the London Times or no newspapers are a bit of guesswork based on one's own household.
As an American I'd like to say the commercials on radio salon are great fun for us to listen to because they are so affected and they are almost travesties of the kind of commercials that you can hear on British commercial television or or in parts of Canada Vancouver for instance in my car so I smoke such and such a cigarette you know.
Thank you Mr. Conan. I get the impression from what you were saying that Radio Ceylon and some of the other radio organizations in some of the other countries may be moving towards a rather more popular idiom rather more quickly than is the case with All India Radio. Am I right.
I think the picture is very. Oh it's a tremendously fragmented one really. You have commercial radio organizations existing from radio Macau for example a radio Villa Verdi which is being located in the heartland of communist China's rather interesting no news broadcast whatsoever but they broadcast commercial material in Chinese various Chinese dialects and in English very much as Radio Ceylon does cost.
And there is commercial broadcasting in Korea in Thailand in South Vietnam and so on I think all of these broadcasting organizations share the same audience problem that you've just mentioned the fact is they would like to program for the villages but there are in fact no receivers in the villages or very few receivers the government may place in there but it's difficult to keep them repaired in operating condition and it's difficult to prevent them from being taken to the towns and sold in the markets. And it's very difficult to keep radios operational in the village unless you have a very well organized civil service. This of course is where India's cause. And because India does have a civil service and does have a well-organized community development program but in many other Asian countries all they would like to have they simply haven't been able to organize effectively. As a result the radios are generally found in cities and towns and there is pressure to produce programmes that will cater to the audience and generally the audience listens. It's the household audience and the audience of the wives the audiences of the juveniles and they want like music soap operas and so on and they get them. In fact many of the soap operas there again remind you of travesties of the kinds of soap operas that we had on American radio in the 30s and 40s.
Is there much being done with the nation itself to try to overcome this problem of the limited number of receiving sets that are available to the people in terms of cost. Has the development of transistor radio for example particularly in Japan has this made any significant change. I'm wondering Mr. mature in this general question just to what extent is India at the moment.
Producing and developing your own broadcasting equipment on the receiving side particularly I think the answer really is the transistor radio set even though as for the content we could have these produced sets properly maintained and we might improve the maintenance service. But that's not really going to solve the problem. The community set which All India Radio supplies only 50 person basis to the villages costs about three hundred twenty two piece and that is far beyond the capacity of prohibitive. So as you know the International Telecommunication Union is set up. Recently a committee. To work out the specifications of a set that cost about $5 I would say that even if it were costing 8 to 10 dollars it would immediately make a big difference in India because that is if there is a possibility of radio becoming is my not a status symbol in the home not for the government. That would help but at the moment there are for instance hundred and fifty thousand radio sets in the villages which is a small number of this eighty four thousand or ninety thousand. Really the gun supplied by the government and of a 50 person basis so the government of India has subsidised a number of radio assembling plants and they're been having negotiations I believe in their countries. But I I believe there are various problems foreign exchange involved. And I I personally think that this is the move of the Nesco and the idea is to evolve some sort of an international investment for the production of these low cost saves has much in it that will take it out of the. Scope of merely political and national policy now the effect really is one some people have argued in respect of India. If All India Radio Radio broadcasting itself good have a political valid it is an instrument but haps there would be as much dynamic interest in it as there is in us in television. But fortunately it is not.
I think I'm glad you brought up the question of television of course.
Egypt is a prime example of an underdeveloped country that has organized a very expensive television network but it is also a prime example of the use of a broadcasting medium to promote the cult of the personality. Many of the broadcasts remind you of the old Leni writing style films of her produce for Hitler. And it is as far as one can determine a very much an influence in the thing it's designed to promote. NASA's party and Nasserism in general it is my opinion and I think Dr matter and I will agree on this because I know All India Radio has taken this view that television for most of the underdeveloped countries in Asia is a rather expensive medium in terms of cost per view while at this time particularly television for educational purposes. Of course it is true that Italy and Japan have produced very impressive results. The Italian tell us the Japanese broadcast for all mountain schools and so on. But they can support these because after all both countries have a very large and solid economic base. To finance and support the complex technical apparatus that's needed for television transmission and also for the complex technical logistic network not necessary for the sale and repair of television receivers and those small integers. Yes ideally suited for national broadcasting and certainly in India there would be tremendous problems as it would be in many other Asian countries Indonesia Thailand and so on. One of the point of also in terms of the of the transistor radio in Japan where if of course you have a rather interesting situation of areas of Japan there are European standard of living and other areas a more appropriate Indian standard of living. In Japan it is now possible to get transistor radios in the six to eight dollar price range and they are doing precisely the things for the Japanese farming communities that you mention. And to a lesser extent this is true in Korea where. Because of the closeness of Japan and because of some of the technical expertise left behind in Korea by the Japanese here again radios are being manufactured in fairly large quantities being available in the 10 12 dollar price range. This is also partly due in Korea because of the American army black market. But anyway variety of reasons radios are available in Korea at very reasonable prices and they are going into villages in increasing numbers and are producing the kind of revolution in village communications that that certainly one hopes will take place in other parts of Southeast Asia.
Well sort of elaborate on this very pertinent observation his comment made about the use of this idea for development purposes in Korea and Japan. I have that privilege of seeing some of that in Japan also in Italy the Tellus kewl experiment.
I think that once that begins to happen and in a country like India more funds would probably be available for all the manufacture of and distribution of the low cost sets. At the moment it is a kind of vicious circle because it does not command a large party and therefore it gets into a low priority but changes occurred recently as you might have heard that there is a feeling in the country that the rural people for whom the large scale community development program was launched ten years ago have not become sufficiently involved in this process of development. Though we have given them the infrastructure of Rural Development Agency the extension service to schools to building the roads. And yet we don't feel it. If they feel if they regard themselves as part of the operative agency now that is beginning to lead to a kind of heart searching as to why is it so. And there this is Brock this problem for communication. So back in 1956 already you conducted a small experiment of using a radio for this specific purpose of farm improvement and we selected about two hundred forty villages roundabout and we found that by forming discussion groups which met on specific days and listened to the programs and then followed up. We certainly generated a new kind of interest which is absent if it is only one way process. Now there are about. House and forums in the country still a small number but this foreign forum idea is catching on. Now the Community Development Ministry and the Planning Commission both very keenly interested in. Likewise in television we conducted an experiment in Delhi for use of television for citizens training formed about 67 clubs which were discussion groups and recently the report has come out from the US school of that experiment in adult education and we had very agreeable results in low income group of Delhi audiences which is very different from the other girls. So we find there is this realisation on the basis of these experiments. This realisation dawns upon the policymakers more funds would be available as you know under the broadcasting at highly planed 1 percent in the first two plans outlay which is really very small and it's one of the interesting questions why is it that broadcasting is a part of the mass media has been given such a low priority.
This is a very interesting point Mr Mathur I have noticed that Indian students coming to this country to carry on technical study is that the those who wanted to study in the communication arts or broadcasting or film have been restricted by currency regulations whereas those who want to be physicists engineers or what have you are permitted Still to come without any difficulties.
I wondered whether this meant the thought of a denigration of broadcasting within India on the part of the authorities they looked upon it as not being terribly significant and not needing to send people abroad to be trained in the professional techniques I think is a very interesting point that you raised particularly where you find those Asian countries where they have a rather aggressive government aggressively.
Putting forward their concepts of national destinies are manifest destinies. They have put broadcasting a very high priority and a very large percentage of the gross national product and they are actively training people in the United States or in Moscow or wherever. But there are very active training programs going on. I mean the amount that say North Korea is spending on broadcasting is quite fantastic for a small country small isolated country and this is equally true of the US of Egypt which we already mentioned many of the other countries in the Middle East and many of the African countries and in some cases you can find countries where they're spending up to 10 percent of the gross national product on broadcasting.
NET expenditure of All India Radio really must be bigger than of any of these countries for the simple reason that the very process of broadcasting in so many languages is more expensive and. And also the problem of trained personnel does not arise in broadcasting in fact it I believe I mean as recent experience that if I Our engineers are probably ranked among the technicians some of the finest in the world probably they have had this advantage of but 30 years of experience. And although some have come from training. That training process continues it is not a big problem. I mean for instance I'll give you an instance when they took the television and installed it. They already own ingenious took everything from the beginning. The whole installation unlike in other countries is done by engineering staff.
So that is not so much the problem but the other part of it has been raised here why it does it receive a low priority. Yes very interesting and I have myself been intrigued by it. Well one of the reasons I think is that the whole tradition of communication during the freedom struggle of India was a person to person and public meeting Munich and I was I was rather interested to read an observation by mail a book on a pilot project you know that one of the persons Americans who conducted this rural development program in their part of India he says never give up the public meeting. And somehow at this public meeting idea has grown as the basic communication. I think it is getting dated now and the audiences no longer respond quite the same but I think that we will be policy makers who are soo much used to that kind of personal communication and they are not set. Secondly I think they're quite pragmatic. They say that there are only these three million sets.
How many people here so I think that's one of the reasons the other is good marketing good marketing government of India the Democrates tradition of it because in India they don't have to build up the charismatic picture image either of one leader of one party and they're very very particular about this.
This is kind of a party telling image not allies. Now I think that maybe this only partially explains why that is that is the reason that these probably are the reason that we are policy makers.
There's another point of course as your audience grows particular your village audience the kind of special programs that you should produce for the billiard joint. Now I have no direct experience of women programming in India. I have had some experience in organizing programs for rural populations in South Korea and in Japan.
High gather however from the talk from talk with some of the people who have been involved from members of the American Friends Service Committee team for example and resend others with the problem of using more radio broadcasts and that many of the difficulties which one can find in an East Asian environment Japan and South Korea also apply to India and that is a problem of organizing a program that in fact will talk to the villager in his own language just to get your reaction I'd like to quote what Eric Bana has to say about the films division of the films division of India of course has a very active program in producing documentary films educational films for India's world population. And he feels that in fact these films cannot be absorbed by the audience for and in fact with their intended. You have the same problem in many other Asian countries.
And he puts it this way. From the very beginning the films were under the control of ministry Representatives with little or no background in mass communications. Some were a matter of considerable education products of a highly urbanized culture. To them it was quite naturally the words that counted. The words were all important. The typical Films Division film has had constant narration crowded with information if the facts where they are embedded in the words.
The consultant would usually feel his mission had been achieved. All eyes pause to this may be applied to the film's divisions documentaries. Though I have my experiences that in every nation the documentaries have passed through certain phases and all these media are in a dynamic stage and if I look upon some of the documentaries in managing from this country and we we make some dreadful one and I was looking them in back in the 30s. I would see the same dominance of the word. So this is nothing to do with the intellectuals who are responsible for that and I think this kind of generalizing is hard to make. But I think it's quite true that there is a lot of fancy for words and broadcasting being Words cannot escape. But I think anywhere he has any experience one of the ideas were of the past. Will testify that is one medium which uses the grassroots language dialect. I told you I think that there are 51 dialects used and these are being used it's a very interesting program if you could only follow four people sitting together as in an informal class. And rare as in Bihar there are four dialects each will be speaking the other has done and there are are sort of four coordinated by one person speaking in standard language the language of the announcements and news is heavy and ponderous. That is quite true and that is true of most languages in India today. We are passing through a transition when the skull between the written language and word and the spoken verges is wide but so far as the rural workers are concerned that Gulf is not there.
But you agree with it I take it to this is a problem of considerable importance.
Yes I think it is a problem of importance and it is a problem which relates to education. To literature and to mass media. All these All these media and and I think that particularly this is because the artistes who are not fully educated are not so much associated with the programming. The folk tradition of art for tradition of music and drama was for some time neglected in there and that is that if if any artists we brought in the artists or writers the art from the early. I think that's one of the basic reasons.
And it's true of every other Asian country that I've been in and looked at the broadcasting situation this is precisely the problem and of course the other thing is many of the people from of the Director-General down who pass on programs will often be inclined to add their own prejudices their own hobby horses. This is true of information services the world over particular I can pick up some very revelent examples in the United States right now. But the point is as a result very often the program planners will produce programs for the secretary or the broadcasting organization rather than for producing programs that in fact will reach and educate and entertain and stimulate the target audience.
This is an extremely fascinating aspect of our discussion. I had always had the impression that India had a very rich visual tradition and I'm interested in the emphasis that you were putting upon the oral verbal tradition this afternoon.
Does the television experimentation that is taking place in India. Has it become a medium for the showing of Indian films. In other words is the potential of television as a visual medium being exploited in India to sort of perhaps build up some of interest again in the folk visual culture of the folk culture of the country. Or is it again sort of a medium for documentaries or for American Westerns or third rate British movies or what have you.
Well of course there is only one very limited station television in Delhi and they broadcast most of the time to schools lessons in science and English is part of the project.
But on Fridays in the evening we have about an hour two hours program part of which is meant for this to literally clams. And part has some of these items. So I don't think that there has been any significant role of the television yet.
Maybe in the future and I'm quite sure when it does there are some of the experiments and say the folk dances and folk music and folk plays which have been attempted on the early TV will be probably the basis from which they would work. In fact all of the radio that we has try to give opportunity even on the radio to some of these performers without the visual appeal. And it has renewed interest although it is not liked by the city people. They are not very much interested in it. But as radio sets are now going into the villages these performers are getting an opportunity in some of the forms which are dying out.
There there they are again they are being renewed and I think that is an encouraging sign. The future of broadcasting and getting lazy. Because neither are the people interested in the film songs not the elite is going to determine what broadcasting should be nor even the political interests.
It is the culture of the 80 percent people living near and far that the infrastructure has been built by the oil and gas one hour to two hours every evening and it's a very interesting thing that All India Radio should be doing with this particular experimentation because a pattern in Southeast Asia generally has been one of bringing the people closer the government would rather strongly flavored political broadcast from both radio and television or straight commercialization. One thinks of a television in Thailand for example with yards and yards of great Westerns. One can go along the entire line in the evening and you hear bang bang and all of the sound of the Western coming from every portion of the twilight clan. And in South Korea one can see her tummy flaws and the whole family watching 77 sons Sunset Strip or some other. I think the untouchables for example is very big and popular in South Korea. It's hardly the facet of Western culture that we would like to export the South Korea and Thailand but the films are action packed and are available at reduced prices and they're bought in increasing car quantities by the Asian television broadcaster in the Philippines Thailand South Korea and so on and through the Middle East and I think it's a very important thing in India in broadcasting as it is in some other aspects of community development is providing an alternative to this type of television.
Well you have both referred to the political aspect of broadcasting and I'm wondering Mr. Conant you have spent a lot of time in the developing countries and I'm an American is naturally I think conscious of regulation I've just come back from the Conference of the National Association of Broadcasters in Chicago and they are still very much concerned about what perfidious plans the FCC and others may have for them.
I'm wondering whether your impression of. The organization of broadcasting and the political climate in which it operates in Asia is that this is a limiting factor in terms of the development of broadcasting.
Well I think the whole question of government regulation is it's an academic issue in most of Asian countries because broadcasting is a monopoly of government as it is in India. There is some in some criticism in India by intellectuals that they are denied access to the microphones particularly among the dissident electrodes and it's a criticism you hear in other Asian countries where where we where there are of course a few countries in Asia where commercial broadcasters are allowed. But here too the government maintained pretty close supervision on public affairs programs feature programs and so on. I can only think of Japan which is not really an underdeveloped country where you have the same sort of freedom of access to a microphone that you have in some of the Western democracies.
Where almost anyone can get on the air with a fairly controversial opinion I would just like to add that I think India is one country with a leader of the Communist Party can freely speak when he's called upon to. But you're quite right. Political controversy has unfortunately not cast on a good so there is a limitation on everybody but not in any particular kind of intellectuals. Why is it so it's a very interesting topic in itself.
Well it is an interesting topic and it's one that we don't have time to explore at this moment I want to thank you Mr. Cannon to take time off from your work with the Ford Foundation and Mr. Thor the former director general of All India Radio for being with us on this very informative and interesting discussion on broadcasting in developing countries.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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