Professional scaremongers

There is no doubt that the bad weather we’ve been having these past few days disrupts daily life and, in some cases, causes us to cancel well-laid plans. Such severe cold may be the exception, but it is hardly unique. Cold snaps hit the country each year, causing problems, major and minor. Whenever that happens, television channels can render a great service by broadcasting real-time information and experts’ advice. Regrettably, TV programs dramatize the news in a bid to score ever-higher ratings. The penchant for drama is common to most networks. This is not just evident when extremely cold weather or natural disasters hit the country. It’s the same with any other news story, such as the bulletins on the spread of the bird flu virus. Nor has political discourse been spared from the lack of moderation in TV language. The tough and unprincipled competition has dragged the quality of programs to ever-lower depths. The media make news out of people’s pain and news items are ranked according to their ability to stimulate public curiosity. In cases of emergency, they try to trigger fear in order to captivate the viewer. Often they actively spread panic, thus obstructing the work of responsible state officials. There are no excuses for politicians who take part in this game of dramatization, hoping to boost their image and political power. Such opportunism is not new, and it was made evident again yesterday due to the extreme weather conditions. But it really must come to an end. Responsibility lies with the National Radio and Television Council (ESR), but if the past is any guide there is not much to expect. At least the issue should be put on the agenda of the coming constitutional revision. Or we will have to accept that we live in a TV democracy – whatever that means.

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