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‘India on Television: How Satellite News Channels Changed the Way We Think and Act’ (New Delhi; Harper Collins, 2008). 392 pages
Awarded Asian Publishing Award 2009 for Best Book/Best Writer on Asian Media
This book traces the evolution of satellite television in India and how it effected major changes in political culture, the state, and expressions of nationhood. Explaining how television was adapted to suit Indian conditions, the book specifically focuses on the emergence of satellite news channels. It shows how live television used new forms of technology to plug into existing modes of communication, which in turn led to the creation of a new visual language – national, regional and local.
The story of satellite television is also the story of India’s encounter with globalisation. This meticulously researched and persuasively argued book tracks how the two have changed the face of mass media and impacted the lives of millions of Indians.
PRAISE FOR NALIN MEHTA’S INDIA ON TELEVISION
Fantastic… Nalin has beautifully pieced together the real, untold story behind the soundbytes
— Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief, Times Now
Excellent. An incisive and much needed study of how television is changing India.
— Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor India, India Today Group, and author
Mehta has done a remarkable job… [he] has produced an impeccably researched, crisply written book on a momentous development of contemporary India. It has enormous ambition and is exactly what is says it is — a much-needed chronicle of the past heady decade and this new and revolutionary theatre to the daily life of India.
— The Indian Express, 13 July 2008
Wonderfully astute and insightful analysis… a book that is not only rich in anecdotes, but that also manages to marry the larger history of the medium with the personal ones of those who are trying to shape it.
— Business World, 25 July 2008
The book is well researched and etches the story of [television’s] growth with numbers, accounts of memorable incidents in simple prose that is easy to relate to…..For every thinking man who would like to know the medium that provides him infotainment everyday, India on Television is a must on the bookshelf.
— The Hindustan Times, 2 Aug 2008
Nalin Mehta has made an authoritative, well-documented and scholarly study of this great TV expansion… The saga of the mega growth of TV in India… is also told in a delightful manner without losing sight of the medium’s sociological, political, economic and cultural impacts on the life of Indians, urban as well as rural… One of the best books since the publication of Michael Richards and David French’s Television: Eastern Perspective,1993
— The Financial Express, 7 Sept 2008
The quality of research – it is first rate. Mehta… marshals every conceivable source of research to put together the story of India’s transformation with satellite TV news… He digs hard and deep to come up with some excellent bits of media history…The book is full of delicious nuggets for anyone hungry to know more about the Indian media industry.
— Business Standard, 17 July 2008
There are books which are relatively easy to classify. This is one such book. It is first-rate…[it] is sure to change the way the thinking reader watches and understands television … What stands out is the author’s obvious intellectual ability, the wide range of references he has drawn from and the pains he has taken to ferret out information and views from different sources and collate them into a comprehensive whole.
— Mail Today, 24 August 2008
Nalin Mehta has produced a book that is a mine of information on how television emerged and grew in India…He has brought order and focus on a terribly disorderly and constantly changing subject, and done so with a creditable degree of lucidity. He writes easily, not with the ponderous consequence of an academic who drives a reader to the nearest television soap opera, and unravels developments while sticking scrupulously to facts, all of which he has meticulously documented and attributed, should one want to go into any one aspect in further detail…. that he has done it so comprehensively speaks eloquently of the enormous effort he has put in to get his facts and figures. He had the advantage of being right there in the middle of it all… and yet used his personal knowledge to provide a dimension that another scholar would not have been able to.
— Bhaskar Ghose in Frontline, Vol 25, Issue 25 (6-19 Dec 2008)
It’s a well-researched and well-written book… The narrative is racy, and the theoretical foundation is strong without being overwhelming. At a time when the relentlessness of 24-hour television is erasing memory, a historical account such as this is eye-opening.
— Santosh Desai in Mint, 2 Aug 2008
Nalin Mehta’s India On Television is thought provoking. His thesis revolves around how satellite news channels are changing the Indian mindset…. Mehta’s research is not just about the razzmatazz of news channels; he also lists stark economic realities in India, where black-and white sets still account for an estimated 40 percent of all television owners, a fairly big number.
— Tehelka, Vol 5, Issue 28 (19 July 2008)
A remarkable book… Nalin Mehta has put together an enchanting saga of the growth of the visual media in India in this 392-page well researched book. ..The author has provided a deep insight into the barriers the first independent TV entrepreneurs faced from the bureaucratic troglodytes who were loathe to give up the government’s monopoly on the flow of information…. The book covers it all… The role of TV in the transformation of social values and life is aptly described. Overall it is an excellent book.
— The Pioneer, 17 August 2008
Taking a hard look at television news content, quality and reportage, former journalist Nalin Mehta’s new book India on Television traces the growth and evolution of television in India and its impact on society. Mehta explains how television was adapted to suit Indian conditions and how it used new technology to plug into existing existing modes of communication, which in turn led to the creation of a new visual language — national, regional and local… The book chronicles an important period of growth of television in India and [how it has] changed the society.
— The Tribune, 3 Aug 2008
Mehta has interesting things to say about the use politicians make of television, and he describes how some who look good on TV and perform well have been able to leapfrog over senior but less comely and more voluble colleagues. Politicians do not underestimate the effect of television on their fortunes. But, as Mehta points out, measuring the effect of television is “an inexact science”, and the effect can easily be exaggerated… Nalin Mehta does ask whether or not television contributes to violence, widens divisions in society, or encourages a political dialogue of the deaf by staging shouting-matches between politicians… Mehta believes we are hampered in [understanding TV’s impact on social strife] by “the satellite-size gap in the scholarship of Indian television”. Others have worked to narrow that gap and Mehta has taken the process further.
— Mark Tully in Outlook, 22 Sept 2008
The book covers a lot of ground… [and] relies heavily on reportage, with interviews of over 50 people connected with the early days of satellite TV. He reconstructs the pre- and post-liberalisation history of TV and analyses the TRP ratings, its failings and its power. A theme that runs through the book is the Indianisation of television. Mehta believes this is important to reiterate because “in most studies of globalisation, the theme is that there is a dominant centre that will come and take over
— Time Out, 2 Oct 2008
A genuine contribution to the literature, bringing together valuable material that deserves a wide audience.
— Arvind Rajagopal, Professor of Media, Culture and Communications, New York University, and author of Politics After Television