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New Delhi: HarperCollins, 282 pages
Nalin Mehta’s new book, released in May 2015, is a national best-seller and was long-listed as Business Book of the Year by Tata Literary Live. It looks closely at what is happening to India’s television industry, how is it adapting to the rapid changes in the country and what India’s television programming tells us about the state of the nation?Television touches almost everyone. It is rapidly expanding and becoming socially ever-more powerful but is simultaneously facing a crisis of credibility. In Behind a Billion Screens, Nalin Mehta examines how television works in India, how TV channels make their money or not and what this means for the cacophony that appears on our screens.
Given that television is a strategically vital social gateway for power, he also probes the ownership of television networks — politicians, corporations, real-estate tycoons and tells us why this matters.Based on extensive research and wide-ranging conversations with industry leaders, channel heads, policy makers and politicians, this is a comprehensive report on the state of the Indian television industry, how it is shapeshifting in response to the ferment of mobiles and social media and its vital role in the wider Indian story. Everybody watches television, everybody has an opinion on it and everybody claims to have solutions but Mehta brings new research and understanding to illuminate a topic that often raises a lot of heat and smoke but little light.
Praise for Behind a Billion Screens:
Remarkable for being both a distinguished academic and an experienced journalist, Mehta brings to this book the knowledge of a battle-hardened insider, the prose of a gifted story-teller and and the analysis of a fine scholar. This book is a major contribution to media scholarship — and a ripping good read.
— Robin Jeffrey, Emeritus Professor Australian National University and La Trobe University
‘Television is dead. This book is its obituary’
— Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor, India Today Group
‘There is a coup underway in India: Some people who are inconvenienced by democracy have taken over nearly all the country’s television news channels….These facts are retold in a new book, “Behind a Billion Screens: What Television Tells Us About Modern India,” by Nalin Mehta, a historian and former television journalist….Mr. Mehta’s book portrays a host of problems facing Indian television, including the tastes of viewers, a lack of talent, youth hampered by poverty and substandard schooling, and government policies that impede the ability of channels to expand their revenues.
-– Manu Joseph in New York Times, May 13, 2015
‘Formidable book, excellent research. Nalin is well on his way to becoming India’s first media academic’
— Sagarika Ghose, Consulting Editor, The Times of India
‘I love the racy casual style that makes serious matters so clear and interesting.’
— Jawhar sircar, CEO, Prasar Bharti
‘This is an ambitious book. Its promise is all the more seductive because of author Nalin Mehta’s background as a social scientist and media man…Behind a Billion Screens goes a fair way to meet its promise – it is engaging, full of fresh anecdotes’
— Vanita Kohli Khandekar, Business Standard
‘Mehta’s book is a systemic analysis of Indian media and what brought it to its current state – where talent’s lost in a lattice of hackneyed, uninspired storylines and farcical “bhoot ka phone number” news reports – it also offers the promise of hope..
–- Mumbai Mirror, May 10, 2015
‘Nalin’s new book on India’s television practices, “Behind a Billion Screens” is a hotly debated one in the Capital, for there are few pieces of authoritative, research backed books that look at the world of Indian television apart from the punditry on display across social medium and online news portals’