How to read Television? - Abhinaya Thapa

In future any readings over the modernity and on the culture of Kathmandu will be incomplete without the analysis of its inhabitant’s TV and cinematic experience. In fact it overwhelms our cultural activities due to this any future research has to surmount a huge obstacle, the idyllic nature in relationship with TV. Add to it the setting of a room because at present its where the most people watch movies and other TV programs. And try to think of all those Bollywood and Hollywood movies and programs from star networks and bevy of other satellite channels.
What goes between an individual and TV especially inside a room where one sits to watch programs that too of foreign countries? The individual and TV is rarely a subject in sociological and  media studies of Nepal and  due to the arrival of satellite channels in early 1990s the subject has suddenly moved beyond our grasp at least for the present . The influence of satellite channels programs on the people minds and daily behavior can now only observed or insinuated mainly through the changes in their attitudes and beliefs.
 In early 1990s American anthropologist Mark Liechty was endeavoring something similar and his findings suggest that the rise of western media and commodity culture in Kathmandu will be definitive in modernity of middle class in future. A lot has changed between then and now. After 1993 we have more than 100 satellite channels in our sky. Plus the internet is slowly coming within the grasp of the middle class. And the DVD films have changed drastically the way we used to watch, enjoy and interpret movies. Now the cinematic experience has to be understood mainly as a personal experience without others existence and behavior intervening during the process of communication. Previously even after the arrival of satellite channels the TV and cinematic experience was still a family thing. Due to this TV programs were constantly under the parental ratings and censorships. But after the arrival of DVDs individuals of new millennia  were able  to exercise more freedom not only in terms of  cinematic experience but thanks to piracy the whole Hollywood, Bollywood besides Korean cinema and European cinema became available in the streets of Kathmandu in between rupees 30 and 150. The outcome was communication with these international societies and their lives, cultures and stories.
So in order to understand at least the communicative behavior of youths of capital city the subjects like TV, DVDs and satellite channels had to be introduced. To gauge the role they played in developing conceptual tools and behavior patterns for the interaction between individuals and later with family and society at large the present circumstances will force any reader and researcher to delve into this TV and DVD cinematic experience and will force them to watch. In the process traditional concepts like individual and society or group communication will now have to be reevaluated and along with it our knowledge and concepts over groups and community has to rewritten and old ones can be abandoned.
So how to analyze TV experience and its relationship with satellite channels, movies and everything? Or should we have to study them separately and only after draw conclusions regarding their relationships? TV is new phenomena in context of Nepal only after 1990 it began to assume central place inside homes of middle class. But in the last ten years suddenly it has become ubiquitous in the urban sphere and due to the easy availability and cable companies low charge fee people from below the middle classes too have been able to access to satellite channels. Now it has beyond the middle class sphere and villages are coming into the fray. So how are we to read it as something of phenomena that happens inside a modern state as its modernizing policy or the effect of western cultural and technological power or  as a joint strategy between a modern state and capitalism and empires?
Any analysis and readings over TV  watching and DVD cinematic experience will draw attention to subjects like Bollywood and Hollywood and without developing  some kind of common rationale over them the TV studies of country our like ours will be quite hollow. The studies developing in the other parts of world can strike some common chords but one has ponder a lot before doing content analysis or explicating the TV sphere of our Nepal as an off shoot off public sphere. And it would be quite stupid to judge the contents and programs of satellite channels as bourgeois agenda or hegemonic acts.
I think time has come at last to watch more and more TV and films to develop new ways of cognition theories for analysis of contemporary society.  The effect of TV on the readings and interpretation of texts will be nice starting point.

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