Yes we can

Flick through the main TV channels, and you will find a lot of talk. The 90s saw the widest range and the largest number of talk shows ever. The public affairs talk shows have gained prominence throughout the country and across all satellite channels.

Tarique Bhat and Wajahat at work

These talk shows are rewriting our cultural scripts, altering our perceptions, our social relationships, and our relationships to the natural world.

It seems that, in Kashmir at least, audiences display an endless desire for TV talk. This is partly attributed to the fact that there are not many forums where diverse audience can discuss on issues relevant to Kashmiris. To stretch the limits of public discourse, it is essential to promote thoroughly researched, visually dynamic, precisely edited chunk of issue-based realistic and Investigative programmes.

Media plays an important role in generating interest among public about public interest issues. Owing to over-politicised society, electronic media in Kashmir could not play much role in addressing public interest in social and governance issues. The ingredients of an informed opinion were never sought, and in the case of contemporary events/ issues/ public grievances, that means seriously reporting views on television remained beyond any semblance of real balance. Whatever was churned out, It was one sided and many a times sheer and crude propaganda.

A walk into downtown Srinagar or through the boulevard along Dal Lake or, for that matter, any of the towns of Kashmir would reveal depressed, speechless faces. We observe Kashmiris, especially the youth, from close quarters and it gives us access to whispers which most would not listen to.

A more efficient conclusion is that all alternative points of view have typically been excluded, especially in favour of electronic media here, dominated by establishment perspectives and sensibilities.

The BBC World Service Trust (WST) in collaboration with BBC Urdu Service and Associated Media recently shot two debates on governance issues in Kashmir. A live-on-tape programme using real time switching between multiple cameras was a challenge of sorts, says Tarique Bhat. The WST conducted a research study to assess the media consumption patterns and preferences among Kashmiris and the governance issues of interest, says Dr Harpreet Kaur, Project Manager BBC WST. It was difficult to find an industry standard production house in Kashmir that could cater to our production needs, adds Dr Harpreet.

 “They had famous BBC talk show ‘Question Time” as the bench mark. Our idea for creating a set and talk show production with an eye at making it more pleasing, more graceful, more functional, or maybe just different was not something unusual though, but in Kashmir, where standard broadcast equipment, technical crew, shooting floors and above all Internationally prevalent professional setting is less existing, it was challenging indeed,” opines Tarique Bhat, CEO Associated Media.

Bhat says, “We decided to go ahead with the production at Srinagar by adhering to BBC standards, catering to their all technical requirements that they are used to everywhere else. This was the first show using the latest Broadcast quality Three Digi-beta recorders to record, VT 1 Vision mixer output, VT 2 Vision mixer output (back-up) and VT 3 Mixed ISO cameras from Vision mixer auxiliary (ME) bank, 13 monitors, locally available lighting, agency created set and Associated Media Production crew who were the caretakers.”

Ultimately when the BBC World Service team entered the SKICC shooting location, it was greeted with a bunch of cases that contained all the gear Associated Media crew would be using to capture “Conversations for Change” with six full broadcast quality cameras.

“The cameras were airlifted in from Mumbai. We ensured they were all set. We also made sure the cameras were powered up through DG set as we could not get requisite voltage. In order to get the matched up digital images/ shots from all the camera sources to the control room (located to the opposite side of shooting location), we used a triax cable system. The temporary production control room consisting of equipment assembled for this shoot. It was aimed as to create a control room similar to a TV studio or OB truck,” says Wajahat Iqbal Kashtwari, Technical Director, Associated Media.

All the equipment was in “fly-pack” cases so that it could move to a new location and venue if called upon. Today, this room would include the director,

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