Dalit-centric channel set to hit the airwaves

dalit-watch-Apr-16-09Chennai: It will be launched on Thursday — Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary

In a State where almost all major political parties run a television channel, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), a prominent political party with a strong Dalit base will get its own 24×7 television channel on April 14.

The party’s general secretary, Ravi Kumar, confirmed on social media that the channel, Velichcham TV, would go on air as expected. “Velichcham TV, a Tamil television channel, will be on air from April 14, which happens to be 125{+t}{+h}birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar due to the unrelenting efforts of VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan,” he wrote.

The news has been welcomed by many at a time when caste violence has peaked. The channel, it is being said, will strive to present the Dalit perspective.

Panayur Babu, the VCK’s media co-ordinator who is involved in getting the channel up and running, said the channel would try to be objective and unbiased.

“No doubt that we will try to project the party’s perspective, but we will not tweak news reports to suit the party. It will also be a neutral entertainment channel.”

There are likely to be six bulletins a day while the other slots will be taken up entertainment programs.

Notably, every significant political party in the State has its own party organ — either a newspaper or a television channel; or in some instances, both. While the proximity of Sun TV and Kalaignar TV to the DMK family is well known, and Jaya TV speaks the AIADMK-tongue, the PMK started Makkal TV and Tamil Osai some years ago. DMDK leader Vijayakant, who was wooed by many parties looking for an electoral alliance, has his Captain TV to telecast party events.

And these are just the more prominent ones.

Senior journalist Gnani Sankaran said that it was time the Dalit community promoted its point of view in visual media as well.

“There have been several Dalit magazines. A television channel is a welcome move. They are going to use another medium to get their point across. Just like other parties push their point of view in the public domain, we will get to hear the Dalit perspective on various issues as well,” he said.

While many welcomed the move, some wondered if the channel would gain credibility after being identified as a party organ.

Dalit intellectuals nevertheless maintain that Velichcham TV would bring in much needed balance in the world of news.

“There is absolutely very little or no representation from backward classes, minorities or Dalits in the national media. That being the case, my hope is the Velichcham would fill in this gap. We need to get the Dalit perspective in the media,” said Punitha Pandian, editor, Dalit Murasu , adding that there was an urgent need to create a Dalit-centric public discourse.

“Despite their resources, Dravidian parties failed to set up a television house that took the Dravidian ideology to the people. The television channels set up by them either became mere party organs supporting a particular party or were run for purely commercial reasons. Thus, a television channel which will create a Dalit and anti-caste discourse is necessary. While there is a risk that this could become a party-mouth piece, this effort needs to be supported.”

Source: The Hindu

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