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Language of Mass Media – A Study Based On Malayalam Radio Broadcasts by K Parameswaran

LANGUAGE IN INDIA

Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 8 : 9 September 2008

ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.

Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.

Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.

B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.

A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.

Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.

K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.

Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.

Language of Mass Media -

A Study Based on Malayalam Radio Broadcasts

A Doctoral Dissertation in Linguistics

K. Parameswaran, Ph.D.

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass Me d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 1

LANGUAGE OF MASS MEDIA –

A STUDY BASED ON MALAYALAM RADIO BROADCASTS.

Thesis submitted to the University of Kerala through the Department

of Linguistics for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

K PARAMESWARAN.

DEPARTMENT OF LINGUISTICS

UNIVERSITY OF KERALA

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

2006.

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass Me d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 2

Dr N Rajendran, Department of Linguistics,

Prof: And Head. University of Kerala.

Certificate.

This is to certify that the thesis entitled

‘Language of Mass Media – A study based on Malayalam Radio

Broadcasts’ is an authentic record of the research work carried out by

K PARAMESWARAN in the Department of Linguistics, University of

Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram under my supervision and guidance. It is

also certified that the subject matter of the thesis has not formed the

basis for the award of any degree, diploma, fellowship, associateship

or similar title of any university or institution.

Dr N Rajendran,

Supervising Teacher.

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass Me d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 3

DECLARATION

I hereby declare the work presented in this thesis for the

award of PhD degree of the University of Kerala embodies the

result of original work done by me in the Department of

Linguistics, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram under the

supervision and guidance of Dr N Rajendran, Professor and

Head of the Department of Linguistics, University of Kerala.

Thiruvananthapuram. K Parameswaran

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass Me d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 4

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.

I am deeply indebted to my supervising teacher Dr N

Rajendran, Professor and Head of the Department of

Linguistics, University of Kerala whose unstinted

encouragement and support has been a great source of

inspiration to me for completing the work.

I humbly bow my head in dedication and respect to the

late Dr A P Andrewskutty, distinguished academician and

Former Head of the Department of Linguistics, University of

Kerala who had guided my research work and finetuned it in the

initial period. His inimitable way of explaining complicated

linguistics conundrums has helped me much in framing the

basic contours of this work.

I am indebted to various staff members of the All India

Radio, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Coimbatore

stations who have provided me with the basic broadcast

material to work on. Discussions with them have also yielded

new and often fascinating insights into the working of the mass

media.

My thanks are also due to other members of the teaching

and non teaching staff and the vibrant community of research

scholars of the Department of Linguistics, University of Kerala

without whose constant encouragement the thesis would not

have become a reality.

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass Me d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 5

Words fail to express my deep sense of gratitude to

my mother Dr Sudha Warrier and wife C V Rathi whose

unflinching support and words of encouragement has a lot to do

with the timely completion of my PhD project.

Last, but not the least, I would like to record the immense

debt that I owe to my father Late Dr G K Warrier who sowed in

me, even without my knowing consciously, the seeds of a life

long enchantment with language and literature.

K Parameswaran.

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass Me d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 6

Transliteration.

Vowels.

Short: a I u r e o

Long: a: i: u: e: ai o: au

Consonants.

k kh g gh n

c ch j jh n

T Th D Dh N

t th d dh n

p ph b bh m

y r l v

s s s

h R l l

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass Me d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 7

Chapter one.

Introduction.

The language of mass media is a protean phenomenon, with an

amazing variety of character. From the four - sheet evening dailies to

major players like Mathrubhumi or Malayala Manorama to umpteen

numbers of TV channels, each media caters to particular audiences

and so each media develops its own language and idiom.

(Mathrubhumi is a primier Malayalam newspaper published from

Kozhikode, the principal seat of administration and commerce in the

Malabar region of Kerala. They have editions from various other

centers of the state as well as in other centers like Chennai. Malayala

Manorama has its headquarters in Kottayam in central Travancore

region of South Kerala. Malayala Manorama also has multi editions

being produced at various centers inside and outside the state of

Kerala. Both the newspapers also have a set of specialized

publications aimed at niche audiences like children, women, job

seekers etc.)

But mass media in itself is formulated out of and is governed by

certain particular characteristics. These characteristics form the

justification for positing a ‘language of mass media’.

This thesis tries to identify these characteristics and describe

one particular type of mass media – the radio – with reference to

these characteristics. The introductory chapter defines the concept of

mass media and describes the various genres available therein. In

the second chapter, the evolution of the radio as a potent mass

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media is described, with emphasis on the history and development of

All India Radio.

The third chapter posits the existence of a variety called ‘the

language of radio’ and defines its central characteristics. The fourth

chapter validates this with examples from Malayalam radio news

broadcasts.

It has to be noted here that the concept of ‘language of mass

media’ and the ‘language of radio’ are approached in this thesis from

the point of view that they are ‘discourses’. The thesis posits that a

particular discourse exists in the mass media and that the radio uses

a discourse that is a variety of the discourse of mass media.

Mass Media

Mass Media has been defined as “means of communication

designed to reach and influence very large numbers of people”.

(Encyclopaedia Britannicca, 1980). Defleur and Ball – Rokeach

(1996) defines mass communication as a technology which helps a

message to be transmitted among a large number of people at the

same time. Thus, it includes newspapers, magazines, television,

radio, cinema and the now ubiquitous internet.

Defleur et al (1996) have also placed the value of mass media

at a high premium by arguing that the history of human existence

itself can be explained solely in terms of distinctive stages in the

development of mass communication technologies. They content that

these communication systems represent critical points of change in

human history.

According to them, the various stages of the development of

communication systems are as follows – age of signs and signals,

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass Me d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 9

speech and language, writing, printing, mass communication and

finally computers and the internet. It has also to be noted specially

that the nature of any society’s communication process is necessarily

linked to virtually every aspect of the society’s daily life.

Various theories have been floated about the study of mass

communications. Defleur et al (1996) says that the study of mass

communications should be able to throw significant light on a, the

impact of the society on a medium, b, the various processes involved

in the working of mass communication systems, and c, the influence

of medium on society. Many studies done hitherto concentrate on ‘c’,

because a significant portion of criticism against mass communication

media has concentrated on the way in which they have influenced the

society or significant sections of society.

The present study shifts the focus of study to ‘a’ and ‘b’ and

tries to understand the dynamics of media – society relationship from

the view point of the society However, in order to understand the

nature of the dynamics of the media – society relationship i.e., ‘a’ or

‘c’, it becomes necessary to have a clear understanding of ‘b’, i.e., the

nature of the functioning of the media or mass communication

systems.

The society has to function in the context of social reality and

one of the significant tools that the society has at its command to

achieve this is language. From another point of view, language is the

medium used by the society to exchange or explain the

understandings and standpoints of one section of the society to its

other sections. Hence, it can be concluded that language plays an

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important role in realizing ‘a’ and ‘c’ and that language is an important

ingredient of ‘b’

Language and Mass Media.

It is in this context that this thesis attempts to analyze mass

media against the background of language. Most attempts to analyze

the language of mass media have concentrated on finding out formal

mistakes committed with a critical view. Chovva dosham, a weekly

column appearing in Mathrubhumi is a case in point. It is an attempt

to find out mistakes committed in various editions of the paper in the

previous week and either justify them or correct them. Books like

Panmana Ramachandran Nair’s Nalla Malayalam (2001) etc have

also made such prescriptive approach to the language of

media.)These criticisms view broadcast language or the language of

mass media as a formal system – a grammar.

But language can also be seen as a functional system – a

system in use, i.e., a discourse system. One of the features of such a

system will be a continuous evolution which will make criticism solely

from the point of view of grammar irrelevant. Mistakes will form part

and parcel of such systems; and at many points, the evolution of the

system will change what was once termed a mistake into an

acceptable usage.

Analysing media language.

The next question that naturally arises in this context is the

relevance or necessity of analyzing the language of media as

discourse. Fairclough (1985) discusses why the analysis of media

language from the point of view of discourse differs from the analysis

of media language from the point of view of linguistics. In pages 16

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and 17 he says that “analysis of media language as discourse can

help in reaching a detailed understanding of the nature of media

output. While linguistic analysis focuses on texts, discourse analysis

is concerned with both texts as well as practices – discourse

practices as well as socio cultural texts. It is an attempt to correlate

texts, discourse practices and socio cultural practices.”

Adam Jarowski and Nikolas Coupland have explicitly referred to

the necessity of considering language from the point of view of

discourse in their introductory essay in Jarowski et al 2004. In their

own words, “Rapid growth in communications media, such as satellite

and digital television and radio, desktop publishing,

telecommunications (mobile phone networks, video conferencing),

email, internet mediated sales and services, information provision

and entertainment, has created new media for language use. It is not

surprising that language is becoming more and more closely

scrutinized….. while simultaneously being shaped and honed (for

example by advertisers, journalists and broadcasters) in a drive to

generate ever – more attention and persuasive impact. Under these

circumstances, language itself becomes marketable and a sort of

commodity, and its purveyors can market themselves through their

skills of linguistic and textual manipulation…….Discourse ceases to

be ‘merely a function of work; it becomes work, just as it defines

various forms of leisure and, for that matter, academic study. The

analysis of discourse becomes correspondingly more important – in

the first instance for those with direct involvement in the language

economies, and second, for those who need to deconstruct these

new trends, to understand their force and even to oppose them”.

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William Lamb (1998) has a strong case to argue for analyzing

the language used by the mass media and attempting at precise

descriptions. He says that “people in Western countries probably hear

more language from the media than they do directly from the lips of

their fellow humans in conversation... they are the dominating

presenters of language in our society at large. In light of the effect of

repetition of learning, it seems reasonable that the speech that

people hear, even passively, can have an affect on their own.

Furthermore, as the news generally assumes a central place in radio

broadcasting, with regular reports on the hour, it is the greatest

source of repetitive speech. From the standpoint of convention and

repetition it would seem to have the greatest potential for affecting

parlance”.

The case of understanding and analyzing media language

outside the traditional framework of grammatical or linguistic

structures has also been pointed out by Paddy Scannell (1991). “To

think of (radio or television) programmes as texts and audiences as

readers is to mistake the communicative character of much of the

output of radio and television. In particular it fails to recognize the live

ness of radio and television, their embedded ness in the here and

now (their particularity) and the cardinal importance of context and

audiences. All programmes have an audience oriented

communicative intentionality which is embodied in the organization of

their setting (context) down to the smallest detail: there is nothing in

the discourses of radio and television that is not motivated, that is not

intended to generate inferences about what is being said by virtue of

how it is being said. Most importantly, all broadcast output is,

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knowingly, wittingly, public. That is, it is a self conscious, self reflexive

performance produced for audiences who are situated elsewhere.”

Here, the author actually pinpoints the limitations of

approaching the language of the media from both the prescriptive as

well as descriptive models of analysis. The principal purpose of

language, especially in the context of mass media, is the instant

communication of information. In order to describe language use and

prescribe norms for it, it has to be accepted that it is the

communicative nature of language that has to come out of the

description and prescription exercises. Actually, prescription and

description form a part of the larger communicative purpose, because

communication presupposes some ‘common’ factors and prescription

as well as description are ways to engender and ensure such factors

in common.

Discourse here refers to at least three concepts. Deborah

Cameron in (Cameron, 2001) explains that discourse can refer to

language above sentence level – its structure; it can refer to language

in use – its function; it can also refer to language in language – the

discursive construction of reality.

A later work by Deborah Cannon (Cannon, 2003), brings out

more clearly the differing senses of the term discourse. In page 16, it

is clarified that “for linguists, ‘discourse’ is ‘language in use’ – the way

meaning is produced when a language is used in particular contexts

for particular purposes. For critical theorists, ‘discourses’ are a set of

propositions in circulation about a particular phenomenon. These

propositions constitute what people take to be the reality of that

phenomenon.”

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass M e d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 14

In Candlin L N (1997), it is said that “discourse is also language

beyond language in use. (It) is an important concept for

understanding society and human responses to it, as well as for

understanding language itself.”

Reflecting these viewpoints Fairclough (ibid) also demarcates

two usages of the term discourse. He says the two senses of

discourse refer to social actions and interactions and to the social

construction of reality (page 19). In the first sense, discourse is

related to the interpersonal function of language and in the second

sense it refers to the ideational role of language. He further concludes

that against this background discourse can be analyzed in two ways.

He says the focuses of these analyses are essentially

complementary. One focus is on language as communicative events

and the second one is on language as ordered discourse. The former

refers to specific events and the latter to the general structure of

discourse (page 56).

Sandhya Nayak (2004) adds this explanation about the

methodology of discourse analysis. She says that “Discourse analysis

….. is defined as (1) concerned with language use beyond the

boundaries of a sentence, utterance, (2) concerned with the interrelationships

between language and society, and (3) as concerned

with the interactive or dialogic properties of everyday

communication”.

Hasnain Imtiaz (2005) has also explained the concept of

discourse in a functional manner. He says that “discourse is not

simply a unit of language larger than a sentence. What is required of

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us is to look at discourse by going beyond such common-sense

definitions. We need to look at language as a social practice and treat

discourse as ruled by the conditions of its production and reception

and as constituting a distinctive socio-cultural practice that is

institutionalized to a greater or lesser degree.

Grossberg et al (1998) approaches the problem of media

language from a different angle. They present Stuart Hall’s (1980)

opinion that communication has to be seen as two distinct processes

– encoding and decoding – which do not have any necessary

relationship to each other. According to him, readers or audiences

interpret any communication by transplanting them into their own

framework or codes. Thus, the interpretation of a text becomes a

complicated and varied task. The interpretation takes place with

regard to the text itself, the questions posed by the text and the

technique of communication used in the text. Thus the text can be

analyzed from the point of view of content analysis; text can be taken

as a narrative and the principles of narratology can be used for

analysis; it is also possible to visualize any media text in terms of

symbols and codes and apply the principles of semiotics to analyze

the text.

(Lamb, 1998), in the context of describing the register of radio

language in Gaelic comments that “There are several reasons for

studying language on radio,……………………. For one, many Gaelic

speakers must go through a day hearing substantially more Gaelic on

the radio than they do in their physical vicinity (cf. Bell, 1991: “People

in Western countries probably hear more language from the media

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than they do directly from the lips of their fellow humans in

conversation... they are the dominating presenters of language in our

society at large”, p. 1). In light of the effect of repetition of learning, it

seems reasonable that the speech that people hear, even passively,

can have an affect on their own. Furthermore, as the news generally

assumes a central place in radio broadcasting, with regular reports on

the hour, it is the greatest source of repetitive speech. From the

standpoint of convention and repetition it would seem to have the

greatest potential for affecting parlance”.

News against the context of mass media.

As mentioned above, the organization of mass media –

especially radio and television – pays particularly close attention to

context. As a result various genres of mass media can be isolated.

Fairclough (1985) has differentiated discourses from genres and says

that the former are references to the way in which knowledge is

formed (for example, liberal, socialist or Marxist discourses) while the

latter refers to the use of language in a particular social context (for

example, radio broadcasts or political speeches).

One of the major genres of broadcast media is news. The

Webster’s New World Dictionary has defined news in three ways.

News can information that was previously unknown; it can be recent

happenings, especially those broadcast or printed in the mass media;

it can also refer to reports about such events in a general way.

Journalism textbooks have defined news in various ways, especially

by characterizing news as a departure from the normal, “a break from

the normal flow of event” (Mencher, 1984). This text also adds that

news can be information that helps people to take decisions.

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Another classic journalism text (Abraham, 1992) defines news

as “the description of an event. The event is described by those who

have seen it or those who have heard of it for people who have not

seen it or heard about it”. Here, there is a significant distinction

between a news item and news - worthy event. The event in itself is

not news; it is the description of the event that becomes news.

Mencher (1984) has also listed seven factors that will make any

event news worthy. These factors characterize, to a large extent, any

event acquiring the status of news. In other words, an event will have

to fulfill some or all of these characteristics to attain the status of

news. The seven characteristics are impact, timeliness, prominence,

proximity, unusualness, conflict and currency. Some of these

characteristics may seem to be contradictory to one another.

However, it has to be remembered that any news worthy event may

necessarily not fulfill all the seven characteristics; hence, such

contradictions do not translate into reality.

(Danuta Reah,1998) explains in her introduction itself that even

if we accept the definition that news is basically ‘new information

about recent events’, it is essential and practical to narrow down this

because the terms ‘new’ and ‘recent’ are essentially subjective.

According to her, a more useful definition would be ‘information about

recent events that are of interest to a sufficiently large group, or that

may affect the lives of a sufficiently large group’. She pinpoints that

the problem with such definitions is that ‘everything that happens

anywhere in the world is a recent event, so someone somewhere has

to decide which, of all events that have happened over the last 24

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hours are to be included in a specific newspaper, and which are to be

excluded’.

Sociologists have tried another way to find out and analyze the

nature of news. Their analysis concentrated on how journalists

worked and how, in the course of their working, journalists develop

the concept of news and relate to it. For example, Gay Tuchman

(Tuchman, 1978) says that journalists actually work in terms, not of

news worthiness directly, but of ‘hard’ stories and ‘soft’ stories. Hard

stories refer to things happening at the time of going for publication;

soft stories refer to feature stories that are not subject to timeliness in

a strict manner.

Tuchman says that this method of classifying stories and news

is also the journalist’s way of ‘routinising the unexpected’. By their

method of classification, journalists are able to routinize and predict

the happenings of news worthy events. Much of what appears in the

media is expected; the journalist has a routine method of covering

them. Thus, he becomes prepared for the unexpected, which also he

will be able to routinize into the news paper schedule. This is done

with the help of several structures and processes like the beat system

of reporters or the inverted pyramid style of news reporting.

In an article by Bell (Bell and Garret, 1998), it is said that ‘news

is a major register of language. Understanding how it works is

important to understanding how language works in society……News

content is not independent of its expression and we can only hope to

have a clear understanding of the nature of news content by close

analysis of the news text”.

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Nature of Broadcast.

Radio is one of the most prominent discourses of modern mass

media and broadcast news is an important genre of this discourse,

with its own sets of characteristics and procedures. The special

features of the processes and structures of broadcast itself form the

basis for positing the concept of broadcast news.

The term broadcast originally meant ‘cast widely”. By extension,

broadcast has now acquired the meaning of casting or spreading

words and information in a wide area. This wide area of receptivity

itself forms the basis of the development of a special genre called

broadcast language and news.

Rosemary Horseton (1988) has identified some elements of this

genre and says that the most prominent among this is the fact that

radio is a ‘permeable medium’. She has graphically pictured that the

distance between the broadcaster and his audience can never be

more than the distance between the microphone and the broadcaster

or the radio set and the listener.

As Paddy Scannell (1991) observed, “radio and television

mediate the public into the private and the private into the public in

the manner and style of their performances in a wide range of

settings and for correspondingly diverse purposes”. To a large extent

this is achieved through on – air talk, says Scannell, which constitute

the “institutional spaces of radio and television” and which is “daily

seen and heard in the private, domestic and work spaces of listening

and viewing”.

This means that the listeners of radio may be people who are

engaged in a very wide and varied range of circumstances and

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contexts. They may be engaged in almost every type of imaginable

activity. It was from this point of view that Hilda Matheson, the first

head of Talks in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), based

the principle of broadcast which has since been accepted widely. Her

principle was that it was “useless to address a microphone as if it

were a public meeting, or even to read to it essays or leading articles.

The person sitting at the other end expected the speaker to address

him personally, simply, almost familiarly, as man to man” (Matheson,

1933).

Nagavalli R S Kurup, one of Kerala’s pre eminent broadcasters,

has very clearly stated that one of the main characteristics of

broadcast language is its spoken nature. “Radio language flows from

the lips to the ears, and from there to the mind”, he says in the AIR

40th Anniversary volume (AIR, 1990).

Yet another feature of broadcast news concerns the way in

which it is heard and understood by the listeners. They hear, in a

continuous pattern, a flow of words that succeed one another. If one

word in the pattern becomes unclear or unintelligible, the listener has

no means at his command to stop the broadcast and listen to the

unclear part once more. He has to listen, understand and imbibe the

broadcast material in the very same linear mode in which he receives

it.

As Paddy Scannell observes (Scannell 1991), “the pivotal fact

is that the broadcasters, while they control the discourse, do not

control the communicative context. The places from which

broadcasting speaks and in which it is heard are completely separate

from each other. Or, in other words, the settings in which listening

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and viewing take place are always beyond the control of broadcasting

institutions”.

This brings into light yet another nature of broadcasting – i.e.,

the fact that broadcast must orient itself to the audience. In all other

kinds of public discourse, say, a public meeting, a church sermon or a

staged play, the audiences come to hear the discourse. In the case of

radio and television the discourse has to create and approach an

audience. Hence, broadcast is always under the responsibility of

orienting towards the likes and dislikes of audiences and affiliating

themselves with the audiences.

Again, in its article on broadcasting, the Encyclopedia

Britannica (1980) has this relevant comment to make. “The

disposition of a radio or television audience, which is composed of

individuals in the privacy of their homes, differs considerably from that

of an audience in a theater or a lecture hall. There is none of the

crowd atmosphere that prevails in a public assembly, and each

listener is no more than casually aware that he is actually part of a

large audience. This engenders a sense of intimacy that causes the

listener to feel a close personal association with the speaker or

performer”.

Hilda Matheson (Matheson 1933) has also observed that

“broadcasting could not talk to its audience as a crowd. It had to learn

to speak to them as individuals. In this essential respect radio and

television marked the end, not the extension, of mass communication

where that is understood as a form of communication that constitutes

its audience and speaks to it as a mass.”

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Because of the linear nature of broadcast programmes, even

silence has a significant role to play. If, by chance, knowingly or

unknowingly, a break occurs in the course of a programme while it is

being broadcast, the listener will take it to be part of the broadcast

discourse and assign some sort of a meaning to it. Usually such

breaks are supposed to herald the announcement of an important

nature – the importance being either that of general nature – for

example the death of a prominent public personality – or that takes

cue from the stand point of the programme being broadcast – for

example a pause may precede an important disclosure by the police

in a detective play being broadcast.

In this context, Nagavally’s remarks are relevant. He says, “the

main quality that broadcast programmes should necessarily have is

that of simplicity. The language and style of the programme should be

such that it impinges on the heart the moment one hears it. No

broadcast material should contain words or ideas that need repeated

rethinking for the common listener to decode. Language that can

reach any illiterate, ideas that can be understood by any dullard –

such programmes fit into the scheme of broadcast” (AIR 1990).

As concluded by K Parameswaran (Vijnana Kairali, 2004) “radio

is a medium which can be heard and understood only with a sense of

intimacy. The listener is bound to hear and imbibe the programmes in

the very same order in which they are broadcast. Because of these

same reasons, clarity of thought and familiar intimacy with the

audience become the keystone of broadcast language.”

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Radio programmes.

As far as the radio is concerned, talks, plays and news are the

three major groups of programmes that have language as their prime

raw material. An analysis will show that any popular radio programme

is a mix of one or two of these groups combined with music.

Interview is another technique commonly used in broadcast to

bring variety in programming. Basically, an interview can be likened

to a talk wherein the script has been bifurcated for two people. It may

even be separated for so that more than two people may take part in

the discussion. The points to be highlighted in the interview or the

discussion are agreed upon beforehand and these points become the

breakaway points between questions and answers so that the very

same points standout in the programme. The technique of enlivening

a talk by introducing a second or third voice will also relive the

monotony of the same voice reading through a whole script for 10 or

15 minutes.

Another major programme involving words and language as the

prime content is radio plays. T N Gopinathan Nair, a prominent

dramatist says in his recollections that appeared in AIR 1990 that

“radio drama or play is a play to seen using the ears…. The

imagination of the listener constitutes the wide expanse of creativity

that is available to the radio dramatist. The dramatist who pens a play

for stage performance is tied down by the cardinal unities of time and

place, a limitation that the radio playwright never has to bother

about”.

Gopinathan Nair also reminds that the radio dramatist has to

battle with a different set of conditions. A major difficulty is that the

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radio playwright is constrained to indicate even the movements and

functions that occur on the stage through words and words alone.

The exit of one character from the scene, the entrance of another, the

change of scene from home to an office – all have to be indicated

solely by the conversations between the characters on the stage.

Another thing to be noted here is that even the hand movements,

facial expressions etc of the characters and the reactions of one

character to the words or action of another have to be indicated in the

course of connected and convincing conversations of the characters.

As Gopinathan Nair puts it in his characteristic way, “a radio drama

character will not be able to say ‘your sari and my shirt are of the

same color. He will have to explain clearly that my shirt is blue just

like your sari”.

However, it is with reference to radio plays and news, that the

problem of language acquires great importance in the broadcasting

milieu. As the Encyclopedia Britannica observed in 1980, “many

people will not accept in their own homes many of the candid forms of

expressions that they readily condone or support on stage or in

literature. Because it owes its license to operate to the state, if indeed

it is not state operated, and because of its intimate relationship to its

audience, broadcasting exists in a quasi public domain, open in all its

phases to public scrutiny. It is therefore held to be invested with a

moral as well as legal responsibility to serve public interest and must

remain more sensitive to public sentiment and political opinion than

most other forms of public expression”.

This situation exerts pressure on the broadcasters to play it

safe, as is evidenced by the article by Peter.M.Lewis. (Scannell

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1991). He says that the mid 1980s were a period in which financial

and political pressure were stepped up on the BBC. In such times,

editorial pressures to play safe are intensified. “Direct intervention by

politicians and censorship by government is mostly confined to the

bitterly contested area of news and current affairs. Fiction, except

where it deals with political issues or matters of public reputation or

controversy …….. is at one remove away from these battles ………

Questions of morality and tastes ….. are left by politicians to public

opinion as a court of appeal, and BBC treatment of the issue tends to

reflect its current relationship with the government on the one hand

and, on the other, the state of public taste in the wider society of

which broadcasting is a part and which it must represent.”

Manjulakshi L (2003) has this to say about the nature of

language in general used in radio in the Indian context. She points

out that “the type of language used in government-controlled radio

stations, unfortunately, seems to be artificial in its idiom in the

broadcasts done in all Indian languages. The broadcasts for farmers

and workers try to use a style that is supposedly understood by less

literate groups. We are yet to find a balance in the broadcasts that

suit the audience for which these are intended. But the broadcasts

are not as appropriate as these should be for the simple reason that

these broadcasts are still largely government-controlled. Radio has a

major role to play in language. The language used in radio impacted

the previous generation very much. News broadcasts introduced

chaste language, closely modelled after the written variety. The

newsreaders introduced standard pronunciation values to the

phonemes, words, phrases, and sentences. The impact of radio

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language was heavy upon the written style, rather than on the spoken

idiom. This is somewhat strange, considering the fact that radio is

mainly an audio form. It appears that Indian radio is more closely

associated with news and music than with dialogue”.

Radio news.

Radio news has been widely recognized as a special use of

broadcast language. The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1980 had

commented that “news continues to be the most important element in

spoken word radio….The trend has been towards frequently repeated

short bullettins’.

In White 1996, the special nature of radio news and its

preparation are very clearly explained. He explains that radio is a

temporal medium and it is the onus of the broadcaster to ensure the

best use of the time available. Since the listener too can avail of only

the same limited time allowed by the broadcaster, it stands to reason

that radio news (any radio programme for that matter) has to be

simple and it ahs to be ensured that the listener gets to understand

what is being said at the first go.

To ensure this, says White, “Use conversational style in writing

broadcast copy. (Copy is the technical term used by broadcasters to

refer to news items edited to be read on air). (The broadcast news

writer) should learn to write as you speak. Most of us use brief

sentences, with few subordinate clauses, and choose easy to

understand words in everyday conversations. Communicating

information to a radio or television audience is best done in everyday

language, simply and with sincerity”.

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Reading aloud the copy prepared would be a good guide to

evaluate your style of writing. It is the ear that guides the choice of

words, decides the length of sentences and chooses when to start a

new sentence or when to go on to a new paragraph.

This topic is discussed at length in the core chapter of the

thesis. However, the following points have emerged from the

discussion so far which posit the existence of a special discourse for

broadcast. Radio news forms a special subset of this discourse that

merits exhaustive treatment of its own.

1. The protean existence of the mass media has affected

the way society behaves and the way in which

individuals perceive society.

2. Language is the principal ingredient with which the

mass media interacts with the society and the

individuals partake of the mass media.

3. Hence, the use of language in various forms of mass

media has acquired a range of specific characteristics.

4. These characteristics are Janus faced and have two

orientations. One set of characteristics are generated

from the peculiar nature of the media form itself. The

other set of characteristics owe their existence to the

varied nature and endless creativity of man’s linguistic

ability.

5. Radio is no exception. Neither is radio news.

6. However, language has been traditionally viewed from

either a prescriptive grammatical point of view or from a

descriptive linguistic point of view.

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7. Both these methodologies fall short of describing and

evaluating broadcast language because they bypass

the real objective of language use or discourse in mass

media that is communication.

8. Hence, it becomes necessary to approach media

language as a form of discourse.

9. The discourserial characteristics of media language are

the result of at least two sets of parameters.

10. One is the nature of mass communication and the other

are the characteristics of the medium used. The former

sets the larger discourse of which the latter becomes a

particular genre.

11. Thus, radio news is a particular genre of the broadcast.

Against this background, this thesis tries to examine the

principal characteristics of the broadcast discourse and examine how

they function in the broadcast genre. The characteristics of the

process of mass communication, the special features of radio as a

broadcast medium and the particular nature of one of the

commodities conveyed by the medium, i.e. news, all form act and

interact each other in the formation of a media language and a

broadcast news genre. But as a prelude to such an exercise, the

background and development of mass communications and radio

broadcasting are examined comprehensively in the next two

chapters.

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Chapter Two.

The Radio as a Mass Medium.

As a prelude to analyzing the discourse of radio, it is necessary

to understand the working of the medium. In this chapter the focus is

on the development of radio as a mass medium and a description of

some of the salient techniques of broadcasting.

The historical perspective will help understand how the

medium makes use of language as a potent medium to communicate

as well as how the communicative nature of the medium was shaped,

to a considerably large extent, by the language used for

communication. The technological perspective will help in

understanding why radio programmes develop certain characteristics

and how the specialized discourse of the radio helps in facilitating

these programmes.

Development of radio technology.

The radio was actually the result of a long and arduous

human dream of establishing instantaneous communication over long

distances. The term radio was used first in the USA, deriving itself

from radiation - the principle that governs radio waves.The

development of telegraph technology was the step that led to the final

fulfillment of this dream. The development of telegraph, on the other

hand, was the result of an increasing understanding about the nature

and working of electricity.

In other words it can also be said that radio technology was a

by product of mankind’s enquiry into the workings of electrical energy

in general. The basis of radio transmission and reception is the

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electron, the negatively charged particles which is present in all

matter. This electron also plays a significant role in nature because it

is the balancing force in matter whose other components are the

positive protons and the neutrally charged neutrons. Protons and

neutrons form part of the nucleus of any matter, while electrons

revolve around the nucleus.

There are some elements like copper, which allow electrons to

be added on or subtracted off. When an atom acquires an additional

electron, it passes it on to the nearest neighbor, which repeats the

process with its neighbor and so on infinitely. This is the process that

is generally understood as electricity. Electric current is actually this

process of taking on and subtracting off of electrons.

The next step towards the development of radio transmission

technology was the discovery of the phenomenon known as electro

magnet. In 1864 J.C.Maxwell discovered the principles of

electromagnetics which form the very basis of broadcasting Later still,

Samuel Morse is credited with perfecting a system of telegraphing

and the well known Morse code which is the basic language used for

telegraphing.

By 1866, Alexander Graham Bell had succeeded in

transmitting human voice over a system of wires. The conjoining of

the telegraph and the telephone, the next logical development in the

specific area of communication technology, gradually got more and

more refined, till at last the Marconi system of wireless telegraphy

was perfected in the 1890s. During the First World War, wireless

telegraphy had come in to use widely; however, the ability to transmit

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human voice was yet to be made use of for communication purposes

of the common man.

Defleur (1975) says that it was on the Christmas Eve of 1906

that operators on some ships sailing in the Atlantic Ocean heard the

sound of human voice through their telegraphic ear phones for the

first time ever. The voice they heard was part of an experimental

broadcast made by a person called Reginald Fessenden from

Massachusets in the United States.

However, it was the development of the vacuum tube

technology – the diode and the triode - that eventually led to the quick

and in many ways phenomenal development of radio as a mass

medium.

The later landmarks in the development of radio technology can

be summarized as follows:

_ 1904: Flemming develops the diode.

_ 1907: Lee Forrest develops the triode.

_ 1912: Radio proves its effectiveness in disaster mitigation

programmes during the accident involving the sailing ship

Republic.

_ 1914: This is repeated in the incident of the Titanic.

_ 1918: The development of the heterodyne circuit.

_ 1922: BBC is formed.

_ 1926: India enters the broadcasting scene.

_ 1929: FM broadcasting comes of age.

_ 1925 - 1950: The Golden age of Broadcasting.

_ 1947: The Bell laboratories develop the transistor.

_ 1952: The pocket radio assumes popularity.

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_ 1960: The TV proves a contender for the radio.

_ 1960s: This provokes the development of the stereophonic

broadcasts.

_ 1990s: Digital Audio Broadcasting begins.

The Technology of Broadcasting.

Technically, broadcasting refers to the process of enabling

sound waves to reach very great distances using another set of

waves called carrier waves. Thus, the radio wave usually consists of

an audio wave and a carrier wave. The former consists of our speech

patterns and their electronic versions. The latter consists of an

electronic signal that carries the audio wave over greater distances.

Two types of radio transmissions exist in India which differs in

the manner in which these waves are combined. The technique of

combining these waves is called modulation. In general terms,

modulation refers to the process of “changing the shape of anything".

Another feature of broadcasting is referred to by the technical

terms frequency and amplitude. The frequency of the wave is simply

the number of times per second the cork goes up and down as the

peaks and troughs of the wave pass it. Electromagnetic waves cycle

a lot faster than this, and are measured in Hertz, where 1Hz is one

cycle per second.

The amplitude is measured in terms of wavelength, which is the

distance between each consecutive peak and trough. So when the

wavelength is multiplied by the frequency, the speed of the wave can

be calculated. Thus, a hundred Hz wave with a wavelength of one

metre can be said to travel at a speed of hundred metres per second.

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Radio transmissions can be amplitude modulated or frequency

modulated - i.e., AM or FM. In the former, any change that is made in

the shape of the audio wave gets reflected in the carrier wave. This

results in a change in the amplitude of the carrier wave, which can be

experienced by the listener as disturbances in the programme. In the

latter, these changes are not reflected; rather, the strength of the

signal is augmented by increasing the frequency of the waves - i.e.,

the number of waves produced per second is increased.

AM transmissions are usually medium or short wave. Medium

wave travels only comparatively short distances, while short waves

that are reflected from the ionosphere can be carried over greater

distances. The former are usually of strengths between 525 and 1605

kilohertz, while the latter have strengths between 1.5 and 30

megahertz. However both these kinds of waves suffer from static

disturbances; this means that any noise in the audio wave portion of

the transmission is invariably reflected in the carrier portion.

FM transmissions travel through the ionosphere into the outer

space. At the same time, the ground wave portion of these waves

travels over limited portions. That is, they travel as far as the line of

sight from the horizon. So these waves are to be send from one

repeater station to another and at each of these points, the signals

will have to be strengthened again.

FM has several advantages over the conventional MW

transmitters such as uniformity in the extent of coverage both during

day and night and interference free quality of reception. (Sengupta

1996). Hence, the over all quality of FM transmission is quite superior

to that of AM transmissions.

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AIR uses satellite radio networking or RN channels for

distributing programmes to stations spread over the entire country. All

stations are capable of receiving the RN signals, through receiver

terminals in the S band. In addition, C band down linking is also

available at certain important stations and at the High Power

Transmitters (HPT) carrying external services. Programes thus

received are re broadcast by various terrestrial transmitters of the All

India Radio. CXS band uplinks are operated from New Delhi and from

almost all capital stations for the purpose of regional up linking. One

additional channel for use by the Vividh Bharathi is uplinked from

TRACT, the mobile up linking facility of All India Rdaio. TRACTs are

also being used for covring important events like world cup cricket

matches and festivals like the Tyagaraja Aradhana music festival at

Tiruvaiyyaru, Thanjavoor in Tamil Nadu. (Sengupta,1996)

What happens when a person switches on his radio or

transistor set? These sets receive the radio waves, which actually

consist of a set of audio and carrier waves and separate the audio

waves from the carrier waves and make them audible to the listener.

Development of Radio in India.

In India, the age of the radio was inaugurated in 1927,

with Lord Irvin, the then Viceroy inaugurating the Bombay transmitting

centre on July 23rd. The British government had given two licenses

and two broadcasting stations were thus started. The second started

transmission on August 27th, the same year, from Calcutta.

M K Sivasankaran in his article on radio, included in

(Sivasankaran et al 2000), divides the history of Indian broadcasting

into four stages. The first twenty years from 1927 to 1947 were the

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British India days. The fact that radio had good listener ship, right

from the days of its inception, is attested by the phenomenal increase

in the number of radio sets – from hardly 1000 sets in 1927, the

number leapt to 16200 in 1934 and to the considerably huge number

of 74000 by 1937.

The only source of income for the company was the fees

imposed on radio sets. The then Indian Broadcasting company

approached the British government for financial aid. This was denied

and the company had to wind up operations.

However, manufacturers of radio equipments as well as radio

enthusiasts prevailed upon the government to restart broadcasting.

Their main argument was that a broadcasting facility was essential for

the government – a viewpoint that was acceptable to the government

also. As a result, the government took over both the Bombay and

Calcutta stations, made a budgetary allocation of rupees two lakhs

and handed over the administration of these stations to the industries

department. Eventually transmission recommenced on April First,

1930.

Later, a new department called the Indian State Broadcasting

Service was created and the radio stations were turned over to the

care of this service. In 1936, the broadcasting setup was renamed All

India Radio. Its acronym AIR had the special quality of indicating the

medium in which the service functions. It was Lionel Fielden, who

took over as the new Controller of Broadcasting on August 30,1935,

who was instrumental in naming the new broadcasting set up as All

India Radio. U L Baruah (Baruah,1983) mentions how by1936

Fielden “… was able to persuade Viceroy Linlithgow to adopt the

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name All India Radio, despite opposition from the Secretariatt. The

new name was adopted from June 8,1936”. The Hindi equivalent for

AIR, Akashvani was borrowed from the literature of Rabindranath

Tagore. Here also, akash stands for the medium of transmission

while vani refers to language.

However, (Akashvani 1990) has a different story to say about

the name ‘Akashvani’. According to the compilers of that

commemorative volume, a certain M V Gopalaswami of the Mysore

University had started experimental transmission from his home in

1935. These transmissions were named ‘Akashvani’ by

Gopalaswami.

Baruah 1983 also corroborates this. He says that “In

September,1935, broadcasting began in the princely state of Mysore,

with the name Akashvani, meaning the ‘voice from the sky’. Dr

Gopalaswami, Professor of Psychology, at the Mysore University had

set up a 30 watt transmitter at his house. A 250 watt transmitter was

later imported”.

By the time India attained Independence, AIR had developed a

network of six stations and a complement of 18 transmitters. The

coverage was 2.5 percent of the geographical area and 11 percent of

the population.

The second stage consists of the fifteen tears up to 1962.

During this period, the structure, composition and policies of

broadcasting underwent several crucial changes. “It can be said that

the second stage was heralded by Pandit Nehru’s famous tryst with

destiny speech”. (Sivasankaran et al 2000). Several policy initiatives

like the setting up of a series of small one kilowatt transmitters,

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programmes like Vadya vrinda, a group music programme in 1952, a

national programme of talks in 1953, Radio Sangeeth Sammelan, a

prestigious all India festival of classical music presented on stage at

various cities and towns and later broadcast over a period of one

month from all the stations of AIR in 1954 etc were the fruits of this

period.

The main entertainment channel of AIR, the Vividh bharati also

came into existence during this phase. The service was started in

1957. The prime purpose of the new service was to cater to the

increasing demand for more light and film music programmes as

against classical music and developmental programmes of a more

serious mode. (It is aired for more than 14 hours daily now, from 36

stations. Almost sixty percentage of the broadcast time is earmarked

for Indian film music and the rest is divided between light music,

devotional songs, short plays, interviews etc).

The third stage from 1962 right up to 1982 was one of

expansion. By the time this period came to a close the number of

radio stations increased to 83 and that of transmitters rose to 137.

The advent of Frequency modulated (FM) transmission also took

place during this period. By 1982, the number of radio set licenses

rose to 1.22 crores and the coverage of broadcasting reached 90

percent of the population.

“The fourth period, starting in 1982, is especially significant

because of the effects that scientific progress India made in the arena

of mass communication technology. The first Indian national Sattelite

– INSAT 1A – was launched in April, 1982. The sixth and seventh

plans also gave much impetus to the growth of broadcasting facilities.

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The decision that every part of the country must have the services of

at least two radio channels was one of the plan proposals that was to

have far reaching effects. The decision to further strengthen FM

stations too came at this juncture, with the result that a 1000 kilo watt

transmitter was set up at Nagpur on May 18, 1988”. (Sivasankaran et

al, 2000).

According to the report presented by the Audience Research

Report of the All India Radio, Thiruvananthapuram in September,

2005 (the latest report on AIR at present available), the number of

radio stations in the country comes to 191. In addition to these, 14

relay centres and 3 Vividh Bharati relay centres also function as

stations in effect. There are also five community radio stations

working under AIR. Thus, the total number of stations works out to

213.

To ensure that the stations cover 91.37 percent of area and

99.13 percent of population, AIR has a total of 335 functioning

transmitters. Of these, 143 function in the Medium wave mode, 54 in

the Short wave mode and 138 in the Frequency modulated mode.

The number of Vividh Bharati stations is 40 and they broadcast

for 15 hours daily. FM transmission is available in 70 local radio

stations as well as 25 Vividh Bharathi stations. There are metro FM

channels functioning in 10 cities in the country and there are 29 relay

centres and other transmitters which also function in the FM mode.

A case study conducted by the Nirma Institute of Management

Studies in 2003 points out that “owing to its immense popularity,

extensive reach, easy accessibility and cost effectiveness, AIR

became the primary source of information, entertainment and

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education during the 1980s, attracting listeners as well as advertisers.

There are by now over a 100 million radio sets in India. The reach

and penetration of AIR is still considered to be the best available

among various media. Radio has also reached even the most remote

of Indian villages and was considered the best medium for

information and entertainment”. It has to be especially noted here that

the Nirma study was made from the point of view of effective

marketing alternatives. The results and conclusions of the study thus

have a pan disciplinary implication in the study of media efficacy.

As Sevanti Ninan has observed in The Hindu dated 25.8.2002,

“The latest available figure is based on 1998-99 information, and it

puts the number of average actual listeners of AIR on any day in

radio homes all over India at 28.4 crores, and the radio sets in that

year at 11.4 crores. For radio sets a 2002 figure is also available:

12.5 crores, so assuming the same three listeners per household,

listenership today might be in the range of 30 crore to 36 crore

listeners a day, if it has remained steady.

TV on the other hand assumes five viewers per household and

that puts the TV audience in India on par with what the listening is for

radio, given 7.5 crores or more TV homes. For a poor, developing

country, that makes rather poor sense: the potential for radio listening

should surely be much greater? By way of comparison, BBC World

Service this year put its latest listeners figures for how many listen to

its service in any given week at 150 million or 15 crores worldwide,

and declared that it had lost some 12 million listeners (1.2 crores) in

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India over the last year. It put down the decline in India to the fact that

radio listening in India has fallen dramatically in recent years.

Only one in four Indians now listens to radio regularly — half

the number of a decade ago, it said. But the fact that BBC is on

shortwave could also have something to do with it, because the

audience is increasingly turning to FM, with some 55 per cent of all

radio sets (7.1 crores) in India now having the FM facility.

One indication of the lack of excitement over radio is the slow

growth in the number of radio sets available. In 10 years from 1992 to

2002, satellite TV households have grown from nothing to 40 million.

In comparison from 1991 to 2002, radio sets have grown in number

by no more than 30 million. The growth of FM is changing that — with

the hype created by half a dozen private radio stations in Mumbai,

cheap transistors now sell at street corners in that city.”

Prasar Bharathi Corporation.

Basically, All India Radio was conceptualized as a public

broadcaster from the days of its inception. This followed an early

recognition and acceptance of the socially relevant and purposeful

role played by this new and potent medium in a developing country.

As (Britannicca,1980) observes, “ because it owes its license to

operate to the state, if indeed it is not state – operated, and because

of its intimate relationship to its audience, broadcasting exists in a

quasi public domain, open in all its phases to public scrutiny. It is

therefore held to be invested with a moral as well as a legal

responsibility to serve the public interest and must remain more

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sensitive to public sentiment and political opinion than most other

forms of public expression”.

Against the background of these two observations - namely, 1;

radio is a powerful medium and 2; it must remain more sensitive to

public opinion and interests than other forms of public opinion - the

government had appointed three committees to go into the question

of autonomy of broadcasting institutions. The Chanda Enquiry

committee was set up in 1966, The Verghese Working group was

constituted in 1978 and the Joshi Working group was appointed in

1983.

The Chanda Committee’s main recommendation was that

Broadcasting Corporation should be setup under an act passed by

the Parliament. The committee emphasized that the scope of the

government’s authority should be unambiguously laid down. Another

important recommendation of the committee was that the government

should have the right to require the Corporation to broadcast some

programmes as also to veto some kind of programmes. The

committee was also of the opinion that creativity can be fostered only

by decentralizing authority down to the regional and even local levels.

(Details of the recommendations of all the three committees are taken

from P K Raveendranath, 2004).

The Verghese committee, on the other hand, visualized a Trust

to oversee the operations of broadcasting. The trust, also to be

known as the National Broadcast Trust or Akash Bharati, would

operate on a highly decentralized structure. The committee was firm

that the said trust should be “an independent, impartial and

autonomous organization”. The Verghese committee also stipulated

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that the autonomy of the trust and its independence from government

control should be enshrined in the Constitution itself.

The committee recommended that “all the national

broadcasting services should be vested exclusively in an

independent, impartial and autonomous organization established by

Parliament to act as a trustee for the national interest”. (Quoted in

Sengupta 1996).

The Joshi working group was of the considered opinion that

functional freedom did not exist in Doordarshan or All India Radio. It

also noted that the “crucial issue was not autonomy versus

government control, but reforms in structure and management styles

so that they will act as a support to the flowering of artistic creativity”.

Therefore the working group suggested the setting up of an

institutional arrangement that provided for coordination and

interaction among political, administrative and communication

spheres. The most significant aspect of the Joshi working group’s

recommendations is that it did not favor the freeing of broadcasting

from the control of the Information and Broadcasting ministry of the

Union Government.

The Prasar Bharati Bill (1989) is based largely on the Verghese

Committee report and the Akash Bharati bill of 1978. However,

whereas the Akash Bharati bill, which was introduced by the Janatha

Government, favored the creation of a Broadcasting corporation

through a Parliament act, the Verghese committee wanted

broadcasting autonomy of broadcasting to be apart of the Indian

constitution.

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Since the Akash Bharathi act of 1978 lapsed, it was presented

as the Prasar Bharathi bill in 1989. Presenting the bill in the

Parliament, the then Minister for Information and Broadcasting P

Upendra said that the bill is “a charter of freedom to give voice to the

people of India…… There is no proposal to privatize the electronic

media, because big monopolies and industries will capture them. We

are against that kind of thing happening”. (Akashvani, 1990).

The bill makes explicit provision that the corporation will give

prominence to strengthen the unity, integrity, democratic traditions

and social values as envisaged by the Constitution. A long list of

subjects to be given prominence like education, science and

technology, women and children’s programmes, programmes that

raise their voices against superstitions and wrong doings etc etc.

(Article by N Kesavan Nair in Akashvani,1990).

“With the spread of television and cinema, commercialization

and entertainment values have assumed importances as far as most

forms of mass media are concerned. The tastes developed by people

by exposure to one form of media will influence their attitudes

towards all other forms of media. Thus radio is also devoting more

and more time for entertainment, advertisements etc. When the

Prasar Bharathi comes into existence, it may have to run helter

skelter behind big ticket corporations and companies to sponsor

entertainment oriented programmes…… However, in the Indian

context, the accent should always be on carrying forward the process

of creating awareness among the common people and ensuring their

financial and economic well being. The main question confronting the

grant of autonomy to the electronic media is whether it will help in

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attaining this goal”. (Article by Thottam Rajashekharan in Akashvani,

1990).

Another working group, under the chairmanship of Dr N K

Sengupta, was notified by the Union Government on 28th December,

1995. Its mandate was to review the provisions of the Prasar Bharathi

act and to make recommendations regarding its restructuring.

In the introduction to their report (Sengupta, 1996), the group

observes that: “Dramatic changes have taken place at a dizzy pace

on the media front since the passing of the Prasar Bharathi Act in

1990. The advent of satellite channels and their rapid proliferation

have substantially transformed the environment that prevailed till

1990 when Prasar Bharathi, the autonomous broadcasting

corporation was envisaged. A complete rethinking of the role,

organization and functions of Prasar Bharathi became necessary in a

multi channel scenario, mostly driven by market forces. Prasar

Bharathi needs the requisite degree of flexibility and financial powers

to hold its own. There has been a constant debate concerning the

quality and purpose of Indian Broadcasting for quite some time now.

Some basic questions will have to be addressed to be able to evolve

a vibrant and versatile model of a national broadcasting system,

including a reinvigorated Prasar Bharathi, in a vastly changed and

fast changing scenario. It was in this context and in order to

undertake a comprehensive review that the Government of India has

constituted an expert group”.

The summary and recommendations of the expert group have

very clearly described the state of affairs of Indian broadcasting in the

1990s and some relevant portions of the report merits full quotation.

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“Unparalleled changes have taken place in broadcasting

throughout the world. The boundaries between broadcasting,

telecommunications and information technologies are becoming

blurred. We have also witnessed rapid and fundamental changes in

India’s media scenario in recent years, driven by technological

developments, economic reforms and liberalization and the demands

of increasingly discerning audiences……. The new technologies have

demolished the monopoly of State run electronic media and rigid

regulations of yester years in the realm of broadcasting have become

ineffective and impractical.

Both Akashvani and Doordarshan have attempted with mixed

successes to adjust themselves with the fast changing scenario. They

have had a remarkable record in public service broadcasting. They

are the major cultural patrons of music, drama and the visual arts.

They have no peers as purveyors of messages intended to support

and stimulate socio economic development. But what tended to

undermine the image of these so called official media was the

impression that had gained over the years that they could be

influenced by those who wished to manipulate them for their own

needs, whether it is the government of the day or other interested

groups. The vociferous demand for granting autonomy to the

electronic media and thus insulating them against external pressures

ultimately led to the promulgation of the Prasar Bharathi act of the

1990. The postulates that guided the Act have been overtaken by

several events of the nineties especially the emergence of

transnational broadcasting and the two separate but concurring

landmark judgments on airwaves by the Supreme Court in February,

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1995, holding inter alia that air waves were a public property and that

broadcasting media should be under the control of the public as

distinct from the Government.”

The judgment referred to here refers to the case of Secretary, I

and B versus Cricket Association of Bengal and others. The judgment

categorically asks the Central Government to take immediate steps

“to establish an independent autonomous authority representative of

all sections and interests in the society to control and regulate the use

of airwaves”. The judgment was delivered by Justice P B Savant and

Justice S Mohan on 9th February, 1995. Justice B P Jeevan Reddy

delivered a separate but concurring judgment”.

As a sequel to this judgment, the working group observed, it

has become necessary to establish a regulatory framework for

regulating the various channels. This becomes necessary to ensure

that “there is no unfair or unjust treatment and unwarranted

infringement of privacy or violation of accepted standards of public

taste and decency…. We propose setting up a Radio and Television

Authority of India, an independent body which is not part of Prasar

Bharathi”. (Sengupta 1996).

In another important recommendation, the group clearly

declared that financial support from the government fro public

broadcasting is inevitable. The group says that it does “not subscribe

to the view that this might lead to an abridgement of the autonomy of

Prasar Bharathi…… Such public funding will place on Prasar

Bharathi an obligation to be accountable to its clientele”. (Sengupta,

1996).

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Meanwhile, the Press Trust of India, in a news item dated 17th

November, 2005, has reported that a variety of options are being

considered to make public broadcaster Prasar Bharati a financially

viable venture. They include transferring immovable assets like land

to the autonomous corporation. Against an expenditure of around Rs

2,000 crores, Prasar Bharati just manages revenues of around Rs

800 crores, and depends on government grants and aid for the rest.

A committee headed by Information and Broadcasting Secretary is

studying the matter and has held various meetings to find a solution

to the financial crunch of Prasar Bharati and make it a selfsustainable

entity.

The report says that a senior official told press reporters in New

Delhi that they had gone through a variety of proposals and a final

decision was expected in around one month. The official said Prasar

Bharati was currently occupying lucrative government real estate

across the country, on which it has its offices and other equipments.

One of the proposals being considered, according to the official, was

either to transfer the land to Prasar Bharati for free or work out other

arrangements.

Autonomy for radio and television.

All India Radio as well as Doordarshan has always been seen

by the general public as an extension of the government in power. As

far as the common man is concerned, what is said in the radio is the

point of view of the government. Similarly, this government centric

impression about the medium has led to certain attitudes, in the

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minds of those who work in the medium as well as the general public

that certain types of material cannot and will not be used on the radio.

This has affected the style of presentation and the nature of input of

All India Radio.

As (Sengupta 1996) observes, “In the listeners’ mind, AIR and

Doordarshan are inevitably identified with the Government.

Disenchantment with any aspect of Government’s policy or activity

has a bearing on one’s reaction to the programmes. There is a

predisposition on the part of the public that whatever comes from an

official source should be treated as merely one side of the picture.

Even in the innocuous area of development communication, when the

recommended inputs are not available at the field level, it is the

credibility of the official media that is unfortunately eroded.”

The group also says elsewhere in their report that “there is a

duality in the character and functioning of the so called official media.

On the one hand, their position as an organ of the Government

places on it the responsibility to project the policies and objectives of

the Government. As an extended arm of publicity for the Government,

it presents and emphasizes viewpoints which the government is

anxious to place before the people.” (Thus, it inevitably happens that

in) “A climate of conformity controversial issues (usually) get elbowed

out or glossed over.”

FM Radio movement.

Sevanti Ninan, in an article in The Hindu, dated August 28,

2002, is perhaps one of the best ways to conclude this discussion on

the history and evolution of All India Radio. She says, “AIR remains

India's foremost rural medium, and that alone makes it firmly relevant

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in a country whose population is primarily rural. Not just for every

votary of public service broadcasting, but also for audiences, and

most importantly these days, for the market. For fast moving

consumer goods targeting the rural sector, it remains the medium of

choice. This year AIR grossed its highest revenues in a decade at Rs.

97 crores, up from Rs. 73 crores the previous year.

She also points out that the radio is fast evolving as a “morning

medium, listened to in the car, at home and by the farmer in his field.

The country's rising car population presents a growing audience for

radio but private FM's seductive crooners are there, waiting to seduce

listeners away from stodgy AIR”.The present move by the Central

Information and Broadcasting Ministry to encourage FM radio stations

in the private sector must be seen against this background of the

formation of the Prasar Bharathi Corporation and the common

perception regarding the autonomy and credibility of official media.

In a detailed analysis of the FM scenario, the financial daily

Business Line (July 3, 2005) says that “The plan to take private FM to

a total of 90 cities with 330 fresh licenses is just the tip of the iceberg.

…India with its vast cultural and geographical diversity can easily

accommodate 3,000 FM stations. U.S., which is a far more

homogeneous market, has over 14,000 radio stations! Anyone who

has a doubt about the potential of FM radio should look at the history

of mobile telephony in the country. After migrating from the fixed

licence fee regime to a revenue-sharing model, the industry has just

taken off, and is today the showpiece of India's decade-and-a-half

liberalisation policy. The telecom companies have done so well under

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the new regime that the Government has made more money out of

revenue share than it would have with fixed licence fees. The Centre

can also benefit from the taxes it gets on corporate profits as well.

Finally, there is tremendous benefit for the consumers. The

reforms in telecom led to the emergence of the mobile players, who

through their constant price war, brought the cost of owning a mobile

down. Now we have a situation where Nokia, the world's largest

handset maker is set to begin manufacturing in the country. Various

other players like Elcoteq, LG, Alcatel, etc. have also followed suit.

This would make it even cheaper for anyone to go mobile. Of course,

the cost involved in tuning into FM radio is nowhere close to what it is

in owning a mobile phone. A person can buy a simple FM radio for

under Rs100 today. Still, the benefits in terms of the infotainment

value are enormous. The gains from the higher FM radio penetration

could be far more if only the Government relents on the on the issue

of allowing FM operators to air news and current affairs programmes.

If private television channels can be allowed to beam news and

current affairs, why not FM radio channels? The reach of radio is

many times more than television.”

The former Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister, Mr

Jaipal Reddy’s announcement of the second phase of the FM regime

has to be seen against this background. The phase-II expansion of

private FM radio kicked off in September, 2005, with the information

and broadcasting ministry notifying the two-stage process.

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In stage-I, ‘pre-qualification bids’ will have to be submitted by

interested parties for 338 frequencies in 91 cities. The eligibility

conditions of interested companies on financial terms and other

related matters will be verified in stage-I. In stage-II, financial bids will

be evaluated for specific frequencies. The last date for submission of

applications is November 7

The entire process of bidding and awarding the frequencies is

expected to be over by mid-December, ministry officials said. The FM

phase-II expansion was announced by the ministry in early July in

which the government had accepted the recommendations of both

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and Dr Amit Mitra’s radio

broadcast committee on shifting from licence fee regime to 4%

revenue-sharing model.

To discourage non-serious participants, financial eligibility of

applicants will be evaluated in the stage-I, pre- qualification

notification. The applicants bidding for frequencies in all regions will

be required to furnish proof of company’s net worth to be over Rs 10

crore. .

The final selection for grant of permission to establish and

operate an FM radio channel in any city shall be made in stage II

(financial bids) out of the applicants in the pre-qualification bids

(stage I) found eligible after following the criteria and the procedure

as detailed in the tender document, the notification said. However,

sensing commercial opportunity in allowing news of a non-political

nature on community radio, the Cabinet decided to refer the phase-II

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of community radio expansion to a group of ministers to be headed

by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

The latest position, as far as All India radio is concerned can be

described as follows: “AIR today has a network of 215 broadcasting

centres with 144 medium frequency(MW), 54 high frequency (SW)

and 139 FM transmitters. The coverage is 91.42% of the area ,

serving 99.13% of the people in the largest democracy of the world.

AIR covers 24 Languages and 146 dialects in home services. In

Externel services, it covers 27 languages; 17 national and 10 foreign

languages”. (Website of All India Radio).

This web site has also compiled a list of main accomplishments

which runs as follows: On August 15,1947, when India attained

Independence the number of radio stations was six - at Delhi,

Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Tiruchirapalli and Lucknow. On July 20,

1952 First National Programme of Music was broadcast from AIR The

National Programme of Talks (English) commenced from AIR on July

29, 1953.The first Radio Sangeet Sammelan was held in 1954. On

October 3, 1957 Vividh Bharati Services started.

On July 21, 1969 Yuvavani services were started at Delhi. On

August 15, 1969 a 1000 KW Superpower Medium Wave Transmitter

was commissioned at Calcutta (Mogra). The 1000 KW Superpower

Medium Wave Transmitter was commissioned at Rajkot on January

8, 1971. The Akashvani Annual Awards instituted in 1974. The First

ever FM service was started from Madras on July 23, 1977. On

September 14, 1984 two High Power 250 KW shortwave transmitters

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were inaugurated at Aligarh. The first Local Radio Station was started

at Nagarcoil on October 30, 1984. By 1985 all radio stations were

provided with 5 channel satellite receiver terminals. May 18, 1988

saw the introduction of National Channel and on April 8, 1989 the

Integrated North East Service was commissioned. On March 2, 1990

the 100th station of AIR commissioned at Warangal (Andhra

Pradesh), while on March 10, 1990 two 500 KW Superpower

shortwave transmitters were commissioned at Bangalore. October 2,

1992 saw the commissioning of FM Channel at Jalandhar.

The practice of introducing time slots on FM channel to private

parties was started at Mumbai on August 15, 1993. On September

28, 1994 four 500 KW Superpower Shortwave transmitters at

Bangalore were inaugurated. With this Bangalore has become one

of the biggest transmitting centres in the world.

May 2, 1996 saw the launching of AIR on-line Information

Services on Internet. On January 13, 1997 Audio on demand on

Internet Service was started. Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) was

introduced at Delhi on an experimental basis on April 1, 1997. On

January 26, 1998 'Radio on Demand' service on 2nd FM Channel

Transmissionwas commenced. AIR 'News on Telephone' and AIR

'live on Internet'. Started started broadcasting on February 25, 1998 .

On Sept 1, 2001 AIR launched an Infotainment channel known

as FM-II at four metros, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, in addition

to the Metro Channel FM-I. On Feb 27, 2002 AIR launched its first

ever digital statellite home service which will cater to Indian sub-

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continent and South-East Asia. In July, 2002 All India Radio

celebrated 75 years of Broadcasting and in April, 2003 the Marketing

Division of Prasar Bharati was inaugurated. On Jan 26, 2004 Bhasha

Bharati Channel of AIR launched at Delhi and Classical Music

Channel launched at Bangalore. Apr 01, 2004 Launch of Kisan Vani

Programme from 12 Stations of AIR. Dec 16, 2004 DTH Service of

Prasar Bharati.

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Chapter 3.

AIR in Kerala and the growth of News Services.

In this chapter, the growth of All India Radio in Kerala and the

development of the News Services division are documented. The

Audience Research Report, 2005, presents an over view of the

growth of radio in Kerala in these words: “The growth of broadcasting

in Kerala during the years has been tremendous. Compared to a

single 5 KW transmitter in 1943, Kerla has now 20 KW and 50 KW

transmitters in Thiruvananthapuram, 2 X 100 KW transmitters at

Allapuzha, 100 KW transmitters at Thrissur and Kozhikode, 2 X 3 KW

FM transmitters at Devikulam, Kochi and Kannur, 2X 5 KW at

Thiruvananthapuram and 100 KW transmitter at Kozhikode for CBS.

From a few hundred sets owned by affluent individuals, in small

pockets of erstwhile Travancore state, radio now reaches every nook

and corner of Kerala and abroad. Radio programmes covering a

broad spectrum of interests in arts, culture, science, education,

economic development etc are broadcast for a total duration of 97

hours.”

Beginning Years.

The first radio broadcast in Malayalam was from Madras in

1939. It consisted of an Onam message from the Raja of Kollenkode,

Vasudeva Raja. But, even before that, the Travancore royal family,

based in Thiruvananthapuram, had initiated steps to set up a regular

radio station. A team of officers had gone to Bombay, where a

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broadcasting service was already in existence. A five Kilo Watt

transmitter was set up, under the guidance of Goisar, the then Chief

engineer of All India Radio.

The transmitter was established at Pangappara near Kulathur

in Thiruvananthapuram, while the studios functioned at theband stand

in Palayam, near the present MLA hostel. Although the work started

in 1939, actual transmission commenced only on March 12, 1943.

The transmission was inaugurated by the then Maharaja of Trvancore

Chithira Tirunal Balarama Varma, who switched on the 5 KW

transmistter. (ARU report, 2005).

During the initial days the transmission time was three hours. K

Saradamani, who had served as announcer in those halcyon days

remembers: “After the opening announcement, a Swath Tirunal song

was sung. It was sung sometimes by the announcer, and sometimes

by tempura artists. The programes used to end with the rendering of

Vancheesa mangalam, a song in praise of the Travancore King.

Music, features, akshara slokam, poetry reading, small dramas, talks

etc were some of the programmes aired during the initial

days.”(Akashvani, 1990).

The renowned violin artist, the late Chalakkudi Narayana

Swami, who used to be a well known figure in the Kerala cultural

landscape, remembers thus about the early days of broadcasting in

Kerala: “I joined the Travancore broadcasting station in 1946. At that

time Professor R Sreenivasan was its Director. The time of broadcast

was four times a week, from 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm. Transmission used

to open with a Swathi kriti and conclude with the Vanci mangalam.

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Music concerts, features, music lessons, dramas etc were the staple

of broadcast during those days. ( Akashvani,1990).

“G Madhavan pillai and A P Nair were in charge of technical

matters in the early days of Malayalam broadcasting. In those days,

radio was considered part of the telephone department and

Madhavan pillai came from this department.” (Akashvani,1990).

In 1950, the Thiruvananthapuram station was taken over by All

India Radio. GPS Nair took charge as the first director of the station.

The broadcasting time was extended from three hours a day to seven

and a half hours. The relay of two Malayalam news bulletins from

New Delhi was started as also the relay of important English news

bulletins. This necessitated the urgent augmentation of studio

facilities. GPS Nair remembers that “the station engineers of the time

….. wrote to Delhi a number of tims and as a result the Director

General Laksmanan and Chief Engineer Ram Chandani came to

Thiruvananthapuram to review the position. Convinced of the need

for a more spacious accommodation, they suggested a location some

where near the heart of the city. The Maharaja of Travancore came

up with the idea of utilizing Bhakti Vilasam for the purpose. He also

suggested Kanakakunnu palace as an alternative. Accordingly, the

Director General and Chief Engineer met the then Chief Minister T K

Narayana Pillai. Though the Chief Minister was not personally in favor

of the idea, the mater was placed before the Cabinet, which took a

decision in favor of All India Radio.” (Akashvani, 1990).

The Kozhikode station of was started in 1950. Later a station

was established in Thrissur in 1956. Later still, with the intention of

increasing the power and extent of transmission, a 100 KW station

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was established at Alappuzha. At present the position and strength of

AIR stations in Kerala is as follows:

• Thiruvananthapuram: 5 Kilo Watt (KW) Medium wave (MW)

from 1.4.1950, 10 KW MW from 15.2.1973. These were

upgraded to 20 KW MW on 1.1.2002 and 50 KW Short wave

(SW) on 6.11.1994, respectively.

• Kozhikode: 10 KW MW on 14.5.1950 and upgraded to 100 KW

MW on 30.12. 1995.

• Thrissur: 20 KW MW on 14.1.1957 and upgraded to 100 KW

MW on 15.9.1994.

• Alappuzha: 100 KW MW on 17.7.1971 and its strength was

doubled by establishing one more transmitter of the same

power on 15.4.1999.

• Kochi: 2 X 3 KW FM on 1.10.1989 and 2 more of the same

strength on 15.2.1996.

• Kannur: 2 X 3 KW FM on 14.5.1991.

• Devikulam: do on 23.2.1994.

• Kavaratthi: 1 KW MW on 1.1.1994.

Vividh Bharathi.

• Thiruvananthapuram: 1 KW MW on 6.3.1966 which was

supplemented by one more of the same strength on 1.5.1975.

Later this was upgraded to 2 X 5 KW FM from 15.8.1999.

• Kozhikode: 1 KW MW from 2.11.1975, which was upgraded to

2 X 5 KW FM from 1.4.2003.

(Figures and dated from ARU Report, 2005).

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News in All India Radio.

The major part of the history of broadcast news in India

concerns the evolution and growth of the News Services Division

(NSD. Commencing in a small way in 1936, the NSD now produces

284 news bulletins every day. In addition, it provides latest services

like the phone in for news service as well as an internet site. The

history of AIR News is dealt with in detail in the book “Here is the

News: The Story of News Services Division” edited by Bimla Bhalla

and later updated by D C Bhaumick in 1996. The book catchingly

points out that “a day has twenty four hours only. For AIR news, the

day extends to 38 hours and 35 minutes, with bulletins on the local,

regional, national and external services”.

The website of All India Radio says that “The history of news

broadcasting in India is far older than that of All India Radio. The first

news bulletin was aired on 23 July 1927, from the privately owned

radio station at Mumbai. It was only in August, 1937, that the news

unit of AIR came into being, when the first news bulletin was

broadcast from Delhi. By 1939 - 40, AIR was broadcasting 27

bulletins and the unit was known as Central News Organisation which

was later called News Services Division (NSD). In 1943, an External

Broadcast Unit was established under the Director of News. NSD is

one of the premier broadcasting organizations in the world reaching

more than 97% of the country's population.

An organized effort to streamline the use and style of

language used in All India radio news broadcasts was started in 1967

when G D Mirchandani was the Director of News Services. Later in

1992, a detailed set of guidelines was published under the leadership

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of Bimla Bhalla, who was the Director General of News in 1992. This

set of guidelines was, in effect, the very first style book prepared for

broadcasting in India. A second edition of the style book came out in

1996, under the editorship of Dwipesh Chandra Bhowmick, who also

had been Director General of News Services in All India Radio.

As far as official media are concerned, the Government of India

has prepared an official policy document that deals with news in the

official context. This policy document was prepared by the Official

News Advisory Committee under the Chairmanship of G

Parthasarathy in 1982. The Central Government had also constituted

another Parliamentary Committee under the Chairpersonship of

Geetha Mukherji which prepared detailed guidelines on the dos and

don’ts concerning reporting of parliamentary proceedings by the

official media including All India Radio and Doordarshan. This

committee submitted its report in 1993.The second edition of the All

India Radio stylebook takes note of all these sets of guidelines.

(Narayanan,2000).

In the beginning, when broadcasting was being done under the

aegis of the Indian Broadcasting company, the concept of editing and

preparing news especially for radio was not known. The practice then

was to take news items put out by the international news agencies

like the Reuters and read them out aloud. The news items of the

news agencies used to reach the offices of the broadcaster by tele

printers. Since the practice was to tear off news items from these tele

printers and read, the system came to be known as ‘rip and read’.

Even now, when unedited items are read over air, the practice is

criticized as ‘rip and read’ journalism.

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Up till 1935, only two news bulletins were being broadcast –

one each in English and Hindi. News broadcast really came of age in

the All India Radio in 1936, with the Delhi station of AIR starting a

regular bulletin to coincide with the start of their transmission. A

current affairs programme, dealing with issues of contemporary

relevance was also started from AIR, Delhi.

Around this time, a separate organization was deemed

necessary to oversee the efficient preparation of news bulletins and

to ensure the impartiality and objectivity of news broadcast over All

India Radio. Thus, the Central News Organization came into being on

August 1, 1937. Sir Charles Burns assumed charge as News Editor in

the new organization in September that year.

The Second World War proved to be the testing ground for the

fledgling news organization. It was also an impetus for developing the

news gathering and transmitting apparatus rapidly. This period saw

the introduction of news bulletins in Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and

Gujarati being broadcast from Delhi.

By the end of the Second World War, the Central News

Organization had overcome many of its teething troubles and was

fast evolving into a completely professional news organization. By

1939, the number of news bulletins had already increased to 27, and

the duration of news broadcast totaled to three and a half hours.

After Independence, news broadcasting over All India Radio

underwent rapid transformation as far as quantity and quality were

concerned. In 1947, M L Chawla took charge as the first Indian

Director of News Services. The number of news broadcasts had risen

to 74 and they had acquired the specific objectives of reflecting what

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the nation stood for, her role in external affairs and the start of

economic reconstruction.

At present, AIR broadcasts 364 news bulletins in 81 languages

and dialects. These bulletins fall into three classes – national,

regional and external. This differentiation is made on the basis of the

intended listener ship of the bulletin. The subject matter of the

bulletins also differs from this point of view.

Thus, national bulletins are usually broadcast from New Delhi

and are intended for listeners all over the country. News items of

national relevance are invariably selected for these bulletins. There

are 112 national bulletins being broadcast daily in 17 languages. The

total duration of these bulletins comes to 14 hours and 29 minutes.

(Figures regarding number, duration etc of news bulletins taken from

the website of All India Radio).

Regional bulletins are broadcast from AIR stations situated all

over the country. These bulletins are mainly intended for listeners in

the specific regions. News items of regional importance that do not

find place in national bulletins are broadcast in the regional bulletins.

For example, a festival of regional relevance, like that of a major

temple in Kerala, may find mention in the regional bulletins broadcast

from Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, but not in the Malayalam

national bulletin broadcast from New Delhi. However, the start of the

pilgrim season at Sabarimala may find mention in the National

Malayalam bulletin also because of the national importance of the

shrine.

It is also to be noted here that the language of the national

bulletin also is a factor when it comes to the decision on what to

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include and what to leave out. The Sabarimala pilgrimage may be

included in the Malayalam bulletin from New Delhi, but it need not

necessarily find place in the English or Hindi bulletins. However,

Tamil, Telugu and Kannada bulletins may include this news item

because these are states neighboring Kerala and number of

Sabarimala pilgrims from these states is ever on the increase.

The number of regional bulletins broadcast every day in All

India Radio is 187. The total duration of these broadcasts comes to

20 hours and 35 minutes.

External bulletins are broadcast by All India Radio, with the

prime purpose of reaching Indians living abroad. These bulletins also

reflect the Indian viewpoint concerning various international political,

social and financial developments. The external services are aimed at

four broad categories of listeners. They are listeners in neighboring

countries, listeners of Indian origin, l English speaking population in

general, and other foreign listeners. All India Radio is unable to reach

countries on the other side of the world like USA, Canada, Latin

American countries and the Caribbean. This is because India does

not have, at present, a relay base which would enable it to originate

transmissions from sites close to the intended targets. How ever,

canned programmes are sent every week to ethnic broadcasting

stations through Indian missions abroad. (Sengupta 1996).

The external bulletins are in English and in some other Indian

languages like Hindi and Tamil. At present there are 65 external

bulletins, being broadcast in 25 languages. The total duration of these

bulletins comes to 8 hours and 57 minutes.

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All India Radio broke new grounds on May 2nd, 1996 by

introducing an on line information service on the Internet. Thus, All

India Radio got connected on the information superhighway, by

mounting an experimental on - line information service on the

Internet. AIR daily news update, commentary on topics from current

affairs and the significant highlights from the country's newspapers

are fed regularly once a day in text mode. The system and home

page design for this pilot service has been executed by the Research

Department of AIR. This AIR service on the Net has received global

appreciation and in the first ten days itself, over 7.5 lakh hits were

reported. Most of the users are non - resident Indians and diplomats /

officials all over the world. The experience and insightful feedback

gathered from this experimental programme will be useful for setting

up a regular information service of AIR on the Net. “This service on

Internet has received world wide acclaim, especially from non

resident Indians in different parts of the world” (Sengupta 1996).

The multiplicity of languages that All India Radio deals with

makes for a unique feature of the news broadcast of the network. The

pioneers of radio news in India recognized the need for providing

people with news in their languages and thus was established the

system of national and regional bulletins in English, Hindi and various

regional languages. The significance of the pool system developed in

All India Radio lies in the fact that it ensures unity in treatment of

news items. It also makes for ease in deciding the policy of treatment

of various news items.

Under this system, which was introduced right in the pioneering

days of radio news in New Delhi, a basic news script is prepared in

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English. This script will be different for national, regional and external

bulletins. The editors of various language bulletins can choose the

items they feel are relevant to their listeners from this pool. In the post

Independence era, the preparation of the basic script was also being

done in Hindi, the National language.

Masani Mehra (1985) discusses the problems specific to All

India Radio, against this background. She refers to the system of

‘pool copy’ that is prevalent in AIR and explains it thus. The pool

system was introduced in 1949 because of the large number of

bulletins to be prepared and because of the lack of staff to prepare

them separately for each of the various regional languages that have

considerable listener ship in various parts of the country. She points

out categorically that various Indian language bulletins are solely

prepared by translators from the pool copy. These translations are

often in a ‘routine and stilted fashion’ that ‘there are so many and

such frequent complaints about the selection of news, the language

employed and the presentation’. In addition, since ‘several language

bulletins are served by a common text, the needs of the different

areas to be served cannot possibly be met satisfactorily. It is not

surprising that bulletins are standardized to a degree that makes

them uninteresting’.

She works out a strong case for decentralization of news

broadcasts and comes with the suggestion that various ‘stations

should be allowed to prepare their own bulletins so that regional and

national news can be combined in one bulletin according to the needs

of the listeners of a particular region. It would also get over the

difficulty of translating news from English into the regional languages

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as is done with the present centralized system. But it was argued that

expert newsrooms at every station, with the required complement of

editorial staff, monitors, teleprinters, correspondents and reporters

would be more expensive than the present arrangement. This was

undoubtedly so when the Central News Organisation was

established, but now, with regional news units at every station,

maned by editors, reporters and correspondents, and served by

teleprinters, it is likely that a decentralized system would be not only

better from the listeners’ point of view but also less expensive. News

is among the most widely heard of AIR’s programmes and it is

worthwhile to examine the question on the basis of professional

standards and cost ratios without an undue concern for continuing a

pattern simply because it exists.’

Regional news bulletins are also being broadcast from various

stations in different states. At present, the number of such regional

units is 41. The first regional bulletin from the states was broadcast

from Lucknow and Nagpur in 1953. In South India, the first regional

news unit came up in Chenai on May First, 1954. Bangalore followed

sit ion November First, 1956. Telugu regional news from Hyderabad

commenced on February 7th, 1957 and the Malayalam regional news

from Thiruvananthapuram began broadcast on August 15th, 1957.

Second regional news units were started in Vijayawada, Dharwad

and Trichy in 1980 and 1981. However, a second regional news unit

in Kerala was functional at Kozhikode right from April 14th, 1966.

Malayalam news broadcast from Thiruvananthapuram station

was started on Independence Day, 1957. But news brodcasting in

Kerala had a much earlier history. Results of the elections wherein

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the first Communist government was voted into power in Kerala had

received world wide attention and All India radio had made elaborate

arrangements to broadcast the results. According to K N Damodaran

nair, who had served in All India Radio during those days, the

broadcasting of these results was the first news broadcasts from

Kerala. (Akashvani 1990 and unpublished manuscripts). During the

days of Travancore Broadcasting Station, that is before the station

was taken over by All India Radio, English news also used to be

broadcast.

P Santhanam and news readers Santhakmaran and G

Vivekanandan were in charge of election result broadcasts, while

Santhanam, K N Damodaran Nair, P Chandrashekharan and V

Balaraman were the members of the first regional news unit at

Thiruvananthapuram.

Another news bulletin was started in Kerala from Kozhikode on

April 14th 1966. A news bulletin in Mahal language of Lakshadweep is

also being broadcast from Kozhikode station.

Some shortfalls of AIR news.

Masani Mehra (1985) includes a detailed critique of the

functioning of news programs in All India Radio. She prefaces her

criticism with the comment that as with other outputs of AIR, ‘the

common man’s criticism of the news broadcast is uninformed and

often unjustified. For the greater part the complaints stem from the

provincial, parochial and communal outlook of some of the listeners.

Influential persons complain if the news concerning them is not

broadcast or not given enough importance. Quite a few complaints

are concerned with relatively minor matters such as mispronunciation

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of names of people and places. But certainly there are major

problems involved in the broadcast of news which require serious

consideration by the public without in anyway minimizing the

magnitude of the news operation and its commendable regularity and

punctuality.’

She points out that over centralization is one reason for AIR’s

news broadcasts becoming unsatisfactory. In her opinion the major

flaws can be attributed directly or indirectly to its functioning as a

government department. One of the direct consequences of such a

state of affairs is what she calls ‘an ultra cautious approach to news’.

‘Important items of news have, at times, been omitted from the

bulletins, because as the voice of the Government, AIR cannot risk

broadcasting any news which is not confirmed y the proper authority.

The much publicized delay in announcing the news of Pandit Nehru’s

death was caused by the need to wait for the Cabinet Secretariat’s

instructions before the news could be broadcast. Topicality involves

urgent decisions that must be taken by the editor on duty. A system

of hierarchical checks and controls reduces the editor to a mere

draughtsman.’

A second short coming that Masani notes, regarding AIR news,

is ‘the infiltration into the bulletins of comparatively unimportant items

pertaining to the government and to the ruling party.’ Here she adds a

very significant comment that puts the inter related problems of

autonomy, credibility and objectivity of All India Radio news and its

acceptability among the public in a comprehensive manner. She says

that ‘even from the government’s point of view the lack of credibility in

AIR’s pronouncements seriously reduces its utility as a medium for

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reaching the public. Besides laying AIR open to the charge of biased

reporting of news, the present practice of overloading the bulletins

with ministerial and official pronouncements, even when they contain

no policy announcements, makes the newscast dull. If such matter

could be pruned

A news reel programme called Vartha Tarangini is also being

broadcast twice a week from both the stations in Kerala. It consists of

excerpts and actualities from major news and current affairs events

that come within the coverage area of these stations. K N Damodaran

Nair remembers that the first news reel programme was aired during

the 1950s. In his unpublished memoirs he recollects as follows: “It

was of five minutes duration and was about the Arat procession of the

Padmanabha Swami temple in Thiruvananthapuram. Here the main

deity is taken out in procession on the last day of the temple festival

to the Shankhumukham beach for a ritual bath. The programme was

produced by Vivekanandan and myself. Santhanam’s name was

given as that of the editor. After consultation among all of us the new

programme was named Vartha tarangini”. (Unpublished manuscript,

K N Damodaran Nair).

In the fifties, All India Radio started the practice of broadcasting

a short duration bulletin consisting of solely strange news that has the

quality of oddity. The programme called ‘odds and ends’ gained much

popularity and soon it was replicated in all languages. In Malayalam it

was called Kouthuka Varthakal and used to be broadcast every

Sunday. Ramachandran, a veteran news reader developed a unique

style of presenting these news broadcasts in a hearer friendly

manner.

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In 2001, the programme was suspended. Following this, the

Kozhikode station instituted a weekly news analysis programme

called Deepthi which exhaustively treats of a current affairs subject,

exploring the various aspects of the subject.

The Malayalam news broadcast in the External Services is one

of the latest Malayalam news programmes to be introduced. It is of

ten minutes duration and is aired at 11.00 pm from the New Delhi

station.

The News Over Phone programme was successfully tried out

by the Malayalam News Unit at Thiruvananthapuram during the Local

Self Government elections in 2005. A large number of calls were

received and frequent up dates of results were posted.

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Chapter 4.

The Discourse of Radio News.

The discourse of radio news is generated out of a script

prepared by a set of reporters and editors. They follow a set of

conventions. They may also follow a style book which lays down rules

of punctuation, spelling, prosody etc.

This means radio news presentation involves two processes

with differing requirements at the same time. It is a script that is

written for reading. That means, it is written in for comprehension

and read out for communication.

Here a significant differentiation arises. A news script is

something more than what is written down for others to read. It is a

script written down to be read out aloud. So, the differences between

the processes of writing, reading and listening all come to the fore

and problematise the process of radio news presentation.

It is also to be noted here that the broadcast of a news bulletin

involves at least three stages, which have their own differing criterion.

In the first stage, a script is generated, based either on a report filed

by a correspondent or on the basis of what is called ‘wire copy’. (Wire

copy refers to matter originally provided by the news agencies like

Press Trust of India – PTI and the United News of India – UNI. They

are usually in English and are oriented more for the requirements of

the print media.) Translation to the regional language and

adjustments for broadcast language usually takes place at this stage,

although the tenets of written language are mainly followed here.

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In the second stage the editor and the news reader goes

through the copy and stylistic corrections are made to the script.

Here, the conventions of reading and reading out aloud attain

prominence.

Finally at the third stage of actual broadcast, the efficacy of the

script has to be evaluated. Here, the conventions of listening become

paramount.

Language – Written, Spoken and Read

Written language emerged to satisfy new communicative needs

– in particular the need for permanent records that could be referred

to again and again. Thus, the contexts of using written language are

far removed from those of using the spoken language.

In the main, written language is addressed to someone far

removed in space - and may be in time – from the person who is

writing. So, written language necessarily developed a style of self

contained - ness – a quality that is decisive in ensuring intelligibility of

the text.

From this, it naturally follows that written texts tend to be more

complex from a linguistics point of view. Written texts have more

chances of involving longer sentences, more complex clauses,

greater information load and higher lexical density. They tend to have

more subordinate clauses, more long sequences of prepositional

phrases, more attributive adjectives and more passive constructions

than spoken language. It also means that in written discourse, words

themselves are the prime movers of meaning. What could possibly be

conveyed through non – verbal behavior in spoken discourse also

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has to be communicated through the choice of words and their

diction, in written discourse.

On the other hand, spoken discourse faces another set of

constraints. One of the main constraints is that spoken discourse is

uni - directional. The listener is constrained to understand the

message in the order in which it is conveyed as far as spoken

discourse is concerned.

However, basically, the differences between these two forms of

discourses stem from the fact that each has its own level of

signification. By tone, stress and pauses, the speaker can pass on an

enormous amount of information to the listener. At the same time,

written discourse has developed an array of techniques that seek to

imitate the immediacy and reactivity of spoken discourse.

Again, while spoken discourse is discursive and digressive in

nature, written discourse scores in its logicality and well formed-ness.

Spoken discourse reflects the regional and local environs of the

language, while written discourse attempts to achieve homogeneity

and acts as a standardization element as far as language as a whole

is concerned.

The Element of Listening.

Radio news brings two more elements into this frame work of

spoken – written paradigm. In a strict sense, radio news is not spoken

language; rather, it is more apt to call radio news a read language.

Since radio news derives its relevance from the fact that it is listened

to by a large number of people, it can also be called a listened

language.

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Reading has been defined as the ‘cognitive process of

understanding a linguistic message’. The website of the Princeton

University has defined reading as a public performance also.

News reading is an amalgamation of both these processes. It

involves the understanding of the meaning of the written text on the

part of the news reader. It also refers to the reading out aloud of a

script in certain well defined environments, following a set of rules

and conventions.

However, it has to be noted that the dynamics of listening to a

news script read out on the radio is different from the way in which a

person hears and understands what another person is saying. It is

also different from the performance of a person who reads out a

script in front of an audience.

In short, the discourse of radio news is a complex activity that

involves the processes of writing, speaking, listening and hearing.

Characteristics of news discourse.

Thus, it follows that the discourse of radio news can be realized

from the different sets of binaries discussed above. The binaries

involved are the spoken – written paradigm and the read – listened

relationship. In addition, the basic characteristics of the broadcast

media also have a significant role in shaping up the form and content

of the news script.

The factors are:

• 1, invisible audience,

• 2, non reactive audience,

• 3, live broadcast,

• 4, written script,

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• 5, number of items,

• 6, complete sentence structures,

• 7, relatively short sentences,

• 8, selection of lexical items,

• 9, grammatical markers and sense markers.

The first two factors arise out of the fact that radio news arises

out of a written script. When the third, fourth and fifth factors are also

considered, they may together be considered to refer to the

characteristics of the broadcast medium. The fifth factor, along with

the remaining four, refers to the features of radio news a spoken,

read and listened discourse.

The first two factors underline the fact that the discourse of

news has to be self contained. All the information that is necessary

for the audience to decipher the message has to be included in the

script and its presentation. The news reader is not in a position to see

and gauge the reactions of the audience and adjust his discourse

accordingly. Similarly, the audience is not in a position to interrupt a

news bulletin and call for explanations or additional information. Here,

the characteristics of the radio as an audio medium connect with the

rigors of the prepared script as a written medium.

On another axis, the script is an arrangement of words on a

page aimed at expressing a set of meanings and ideas. It is shaped

in a desired manner by the use of devices like spelling, divisions like

sentences, paragraphs etc and punctuation. At the same time, this

script has to be realized through the news readers’ voices. The

various dimensions and nuances of the script and the message it

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encodes have to be realized through the pitch, rhythm, stress and

intonation of the news reader. The success of the news discourse lies

in the efficiency with which the written discourse of the script is

translated into the read discourse of the news reader, so as to reflect

the preferred reading.

The first five factors can also be said to arise out of the

particularities of the broadcast medium. By convention, news

broadcasts are always done live; that is, the presentation and

transmission of the news broadcast are always simultaneous. This

means the news reader has to be alert to minimize faults because

there is never scope for editing, in the course of presentation. It also

means that the amount of matter that goes into a bulletin has to be

necessarily circumscribed by the length of the broadcast. There is a

physical limit to the number of items that can be read within the

allotted time limit. There is also no scope for a wide variety of

sentence structures, new lexical items etc because the reader as well

as the listener will not have the time to reflect on and understand the

relevance of such nuances.

The final five characteristics define the language of radio

discourse. They help in delivering the written script into an oral

presentation. For example, radio news writers are rigorously trained

in framing short sentences. They are often asked to keep to one

theme per sentence, as a practical method of curbing sentence

length. News readers and editors also become quite adept in

presenting any major idea using self contained, short sentences.

They judge the length of sentences in terms of breath length – the

length of sentences that they can aspirate comfortably, without

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pausing for breath. The main drawback of standardizing sentence

length is that such breath lengths vary individually. So, the one theme

per sentence technique has been accepted with quite efficient

success in determining the sentence length of broadcast material.

In this context what Arokianathan (1988) observes assumes

relevance. “The writing script of a language is usually devised to

represent mainly the sounds of that particular language. However,

this representation is always found to be inadequate, such that there

exists a gap between the written representation and the reading

pronunciation. There seems to be no faithful rendering of the writing

system in its true sense, because they are usually (morpho)

phonemic rather than phonetic”.

The dichotomy of presenting a written script purely for

hearing comes up most clearly in the case of markers. By markers

are primarily meant pauses and punctuation marks. They may often

mark grammatical distinctions also.

Here, the basic problem is the conveyance of the written

punctuation or sense marker which has no overt phonetic value

through an audio medium. That is, for example, a coma can only be

intimated through a null set, a pause; it has no pronunciation. In face

to face conversation and on the TV, the additional elements of

kinesics and body language can make for clearer communication of

such markers.

Lexical Items.

Another related aspect is the selection of lexical items for news

stories. Since the reader never gets a chance to check up what he

hears on the radio on an immediate basis, it stands to reason that all

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lexical items included in the bulletin should be familiar to the listener.

This causes problems when translating new terms into Malayalam

and when coining new terms to express new information. An

excellent example is available with the news archives of All India

Radio. When the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation

introduced a new type of ‘low platform buses’ in Trivandrum, almost

all Malayalam dailies came out with their own Malayalam equivalents

for the phrase. However, Pradesika varthakal, the Malayalam radio

news bulletin preferred to use the English phrase taking into primary

consideration the ease in comprehension that it provides.

Linguistic features of News Discourse.

It is axiomatic to say that language is at the root of news

broadcasting. No other genre of radio discourse is as primarily

dependent on language as is radio news. As observed in White 1996,

“at the heart of radio and TV news broadcasting are reporting and

writing……If your reporting and writing aren’t good, nothing is going

to happen”.

Very much in the same vein, K N Damodaran Nair (Damodaran

Nair unpublished) speaks of the necessity of creating an audio or

aural culture. He points out that the broadcaster must “understand

and learn the idea of and meaning behind the script….. It is only

when these exercises are repeated do the objectives of broadcasting

get realized. ..... Satyajit Ray had once called for the development of

a cinema culture. In the same way, the development of a radio culture

is also desirable. Just as the story line and plot of a cinema should

have a well developed structure, so too should a well thought out

radio programme too exhibit a structure.”

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Arokianathan (1988) observes that “any radio literature is

intended for the aural medium and needs to be read aloud…… The

difference in which one’s writing is carried over these two media

requires a different objective and technique in the art of writing. The

fact that the script is going to be “spoken influences” the author’s

writing to make him “write in an easy and simple form …; simple, in

the sense, the sentences are not too long and complex with

embeddings etc; easy, in the sense that lexical items are not pedantic

and archaic, but are known to a wider population and are more easily

understandable”.

White (1996) is a widely recognized textbook of broadcast

journalism. One of the cardinal instructions given therein makes clear

some of the linguistic features of broadcast language. White observes

that “most of us use brief sentences, with few subordinate clauses,

and choose easy to understand words in everyday conversations.

Communicating information to a radio or a television audience is best

done in every day language, simply and with sincerity”.

Similar observations have been made by V R

Prabhodhachandran Nair in Prabhodhachandran nair (2001). In the

article titles ‘madhyamangalile bhaasha” he points out that “it will be

very irritating to hear the language of the print (here he refers to

written language) from the radio…..We should remember, as that

master of style Kuttkrishna Marar has time and again repeated, that

the seriousness and vitality of language can be increased by

decreasing the number of letters used and by the proper arrangement

of words”.

.

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Arokianathan (1988) has made a study of Tamil news in

All India Radio and has listed some features of news in Tamil

broadcast from Chennai as well as from New Delhi. Voicing of initial

stops in non native words, allowance of clusters in initial, medial and

final positions, use of non – epenthetic words and use of Standard

Spoken Tamil forms which are rare in current use and are not easily

comprehensible are the main linguistic features thus enumerated.

He has an interesting observation to make about the

pronunciation of Tamil radio news readers. “Sometimes, radio news

readers pronounce non native words in a unique way, in the sense

that they are neither written in Tamil nor pronounced by anyone in

such a way……..Further more, radio news uses the word bhaaratham

to refer to India, while most other print media use indiyaa besides

bhaaratham to refer to India”.

Another observation made by Arokianathan is also noteworthy,

because it gives a clear clue to the process by which radio news is

generated. “It is often noticed that peculiar syntactic patterns, similar

to English syntax, are also found in news because the source of the

program happens to be in English. Often sentences in news

programs are complex and long. (Arokianathan attests to a sentence

broadcast in the 6.30 pm news from Chennai on 29.12.1975 which

had 35 words). Sentences in news were found to have an average of

nine words per sentence, while radio dramas attested 4.2 words per

sentence and conversations 5 words per sentence”.

In White (1996), there are also hosts of technical advice

imparted to novice news men that provide valuable clues concerning

the language technology employed by working broadcasters. For

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example, White observes that “verbs play a vital role in broadcast

writing. Present tense verbs should be used in broadcast copy as

much as possible. People turn to the radio and Television to know

what is happening now. (So, it is axiomatic) that when you write

broadcast copy, try to make the news sound fresh without being

dishonest or misleading”.

White continues with more specific advice. “Using the right verb

is also crucial. Look for strong verbs that describes the action vividly,

but make sure that they do not sent the wrong message”.

Grossberg et al (1998) approaches the question of language,

meaning and their interpretation in media from another angle. They

explain the working of the media from the points of view of two

models – the transmission model and the cultural model. The former

is ‘the process of moving messages from a sender through a medium

to a receiver”. Here the cardinal questions involved in analyzing the

language of the media are who said what to whom on which medium

and to what effect.

The cultural model of communication sees the process as “the

construction of a shared space or map of meaning within which

people co exist”. Here, language of the media is not an isolated

phenomenon; rather it is involved in the generation as well as the

realization of meaning and its communication within a society. (pp 18,

19 and 20).

As far as the transmission model is concerned, the prime

purpose of communication is to ensure that the receiver decodes the

same meaning transmitted by the sender through a medium. The

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more the correlation of meaning at the two ends of the transmission,

the higher the communication equivalence of the process. As far as

the cultural model of communication is concerned, the meaning of the

communication is the result of the world view, knowledge and

perceptions of both the sender and the receiver. Hence the possibility

that the encoding of the message and its decoding may result in

divergent sets of meanings cannot and need not be ruled out.

Against this background, the language of communication is to

be understood as the result of the combination of at least three sets

of postulates. They concern the nature of the text, the content of the

text and the interpretation of the text. Connecting these three facets

of communication is the concept of meaning which can be described

as the prime function of communication.

Meaning has been conceived both as representational and as

conceptual. In the former it is taken that language acquires meaning

because of the one on one representation of things seen in the world

and encountered by people inhabiting the world. The conceptual view

concerning meaning says that meaning is the product of the inter

relationship of the society with the world. Meaning is generated when

members of a society encounter a phenomenon and want to convey it

to others.

As Grossberg et al (1998) says, “a representational or realist

theory of meaning assumes that for every word there is an object and

for every object, there is a word. A conceptual or intentional theory of

meaning assumes that for every word there is a mental image or

thought and that every mental image or thought has its own

appropriate word. These two commonsense views of meaning

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assume that there is a necessary correspondence between a

particular word or sign and its meaning”.

On a practical level, it can be seen that meaning is generated

when people agree – the agreement may even be to disagree! In

order to agree, people should find a ground of commonality. In order

to find commonality, society shares a common code. A code can be

defined as a system of signs where each sign is unique. Very

broadly, any code acts as a system of meaning. Each code can

generate its own system of meanings; thus each language develops

their own systems of meanings and according to the cultural

similarities and nature of contacts the meaning systems of different

languages exhibit closeness or distance between themselves.

How do codes act as systems of meaning is the next question

that arises naturally. Basically a code is a system of signs and each

sign is a representation of distinctiveness. Black is black only

because it is not any other color. Cat and cot are different words or

signs in English because they are distinct. tala is different from mala

in Malayalam because of their distinctiveness. For a non Malayali or

for a person who does not know English these words may not be

separate or distinctive because he or she will not be able to recognize

the differences.

Over and above this, codes also divide the observable world

into various categories. These categories are related to each other

and also exhibit differences between each other and thus, through

these functions, intertwine themselves into the world we know; that is,

these functions make up the “shared space or map of meaning”

referred to earlier.

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Grossberg et al (1998) also talks about another feature of

meaning systems, namely that they are wholly arbitrary. Codes and

their constituent signs are, by virtue of their nature, arbitrary.

Basically any code is a system made up of two systems of

differences. The system of signifieds that they represent is defined by

a set of differences; again, the system of signifiers which realize the

signifieds as representations in the codes also owes its existence to

differences amongst themselves. As Grossberg et al points out, “no

natural law says that systems have to be linked (or) …that systems

have to be linked in just the way they were (or) that the world has to

be divided the way it is”.

Concluding the discussion on meaning, Grossberg et al (1998)

says that “people live in a world of meanings and interpretations,

organized by codes of differences. They do not make those

meanings: they do not interpret their world for themselves. Nor does

the world come already interpreted apart from human activity. People

live within the codes, the systems of differences, and the articulations

by which those codes have been stitched together in various ways.

They live within a culture, and the process by which that culture is

produced, maintained, repaired and transformed is communication.

…..Communication cannot be separated from the world that it

communicates or from the codes that make it possible to

communicate”.

For precisely this reason, it is important to understand the

workings of the codes and signs of the mass media. This is all the

more significant because media represents the most widely used and

perceived sets of codes and signs. In this thesis, additionally, the

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system of codes and signs are seen in the light of the communicative

function that they full - fill, that is as a discourse. Here it is not the

correctness or otherwise of the texts, codes and signs that assume

significance. Rather, it is the discourse value appropriated by the text

in a particular context that is considered significant. Thus, here

media, text, discourse and codes appear as inter related

phenomenon that act one on the other in the generation and

perception of socially significant meanings and relevancies.

Narayanan (2000) is a work in Malayalam that provides

practical tips on media language. The denotation of time and figures

are two topics specifically referred to in the work. As far as electronic

media like radio is concerned, referential time is of great significance.

Taking the time of broadcast as a base, temporal reference can be

made more evocative and clear. There is strictly no compulsion to

follow the time mentioning systems followed in Western countries or

in the print medium. Thus, standing on 27th November ,2005, the

broadcaster can, with all clarity, refer to 2nd December, 2005 as the

‘2nd of next month’. Similarly, from the same standpoint, 20th

November, 2005 can be referred to as ‘last Sunday’. In general,

broadcasters can, without loss of clarity and with economy of words

and expression, refer to events using the year, time and day of

broadcast in relatiion to other events.

Another point referred to by Narayanan is the depiction of

figures. He points out that figures like million, billion etc are not

germane in Indian contexts. Here the position values of figures

increases gradually from units to crores, from right to left. Hence it is

natural, easier on the ear and more in tune with the genius of the

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discourse to read out figures using these place value terms. Thus the

long figures like, for example 987654321 can be, with immediate

comprehension, read out as, 98 crore, 76 lakhs, 54 thousand three

hundred and twenty one.

As far as radio broadcasts are concerned, such accuracy is not

necessary. The point here is the hugeness of the figure involved. An

impression of this hugeness is better conveyed, with economy of

expression, by the radio news reader, when he reads ‘more than 98

crores’ or ‘almost 99 crores’.

Further elaborating on such related phenomenon, Narayanan

points out that bulk of news material that comes out in media are from

diverse sources that follow a plethora of styles and perhaps

stylelessness. More often editing in this context turns out to be not

mere correction and translation, but elaborate rewriting. It is in this

context that problems like the depiction of time, figures etc assume

significance. Again, it is the recognition and acknowledgement of

such problems and the ceaseless attempts to resolve them that

paves the way for a discourse that marks the communication through

mass media.

Narayanan (2000) concludes his discussion on the language of

electronic media by saying that, as far as the language of the media

is concerned, “the first step is for media men to understand and

internalize the genuine genius of the language concerned. Taming

this genius for use in the particular medium is the next step. The

language used for broadcast and telecast assumes specific

characteristics. From the point of view of the sender, the language of

the electronic medium is written to be read; from the point of view of

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the listener, it is meant to be heard. Here, effective training in

language use assumes paramount importance’. It can be seen that

the discourse of the electronic medium develops dynamism, simplicity

and an organic nature as a result of such conscious cultivation and

training.

It is here that the conceptualization of the discourse of news

again assumes relevance. Here, the language used is defined in

terms of usage. The usage, at the same time, is characterized by the

medium, the content and the language. The next chapter is the

description of the discourse of news from these three points of view.

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Chapter 5.

Analysis.

In this chapter, an attempt is made to describe the

characteristics of the discourse of broadcast news against the

parameters outlined in the previous chapters. The materials for

analysis are the recordings of the 6.45 am Pradesika varthakal

(Regional news), broadcast from the Kozhikode station of All India

Radio and the manuscripts of the bulletins of Paradesika Varthakal

broadcast from Thiruvananthapuram station at 12.30 pm and 6.20

pm. The texts (and in some cases, recordings) of bulletins, covering a

period of one month (November,2004) have been used as the

primary material for the study.

Methodology.

The methodology adopted for the study is as follows. The

recordings and manuscripts are first classified in terms of their

content into nine subjects. They are politics, development, religion,

culture, legal, death, accidents, sports and miscellaneous. This

classification provides one of the bases for formulating the discoursal

nature of radio news broadcasts.

In other words, the wide variety of subjects that are dealt with

within a single news bulletin that lasts ten minutes and on an average

includes about 25 to 30 hand written pages is an indication that a

particular technique is used for the preparation of the bulletin; it is this

technique that is described in this thesis as the discourse of

broadcast news.

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Secondly, the recordings of bulletins collected are transcribed

and classified similarly. Thus a corpus of about 120 bulletins that

cover a period of one month has been used for the study.

As the third step, these bulletins are analyzed from the

following points of view: vocabulary, constructions, cohesion and

reference. They are also analyzed as to the elements of humor,

sensitivity to gender issues and the nature of sources used.

Subject wise classification.

With regard to subjects covered in radio news bulletins, the

restricted nature of the medium has to be taken into consideration.

Newspapers devote special pages or sections to cover various areas

like politics, industry and commerce, sports, legal etc and various

subjects like education, religion, feminist issues etc. They also have

special columns for the expression of opinion. The opinion of the

paper is overtly expressed in the editorial, while it is covertly indicated

even in the space and size allocated to any particular news item.

As far as the radio is concerned, all the variety has to be

accommodated into ten minutes of time allocated for the bulletin.

Special bulletins, intended for special groups of listeners like farm

news, sports news etc are also being put out by All India Radio. But

such programs are produced by the concerned production units and

do not come under the purview of the News Services Division that

deals with all aspects of news production, per se.

It was only quite recently, in the early 21st century, that a news

commentary, quite akin to the opinion column in the papers, began to

be produced in Malayalam. Titled ‘Vartha Veekshanam’ (meaning

news and views), the programme being aired after the evening

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regional bulletin on alternate days has attracted quite a lot of

attention.

Inter active programs.

The listeners’ opinions on the content and quality of radio

programmes find expression in the readers’ voice programmes like

‘eluttu peTTi’ or ‘tapaal peTTi’, generally meaning ‘post box’. Here,

the usual format is that of one voice reading letters from listeners and

another voice commenting and providing answers and explanations

as and when required.

Recently, All India Radio has increased its percentage of inter

active programmes that allow the listener also to take part in a

program. This trend was visible even in the sixties, when film music

was provided in the Vividh Bharathi as requested by the listener. The

names of the listener requesting any particular song was announced

and then the song was played. Another variant of such programmes

was that of inviting a famous personality like a popular film star or

public figure and ask him or her to choose the songs for a particular

session.

Now the scopes of such programmes have increased and

listeners can talk to important personalities present in the studios and

the resultant conversations are broadcast either in an edited version

or as live programme. Programs in such interactive mode involve film

music, health, agriculture etc.

News reels.

Yet another instance of participatory program on radio is the

news reel program produced by the News Services Division. It is

broadcast in English and Hindi, alternately from Monday to Thursday

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from All India radio, New Delhi. Regional news reels are produced by

the Regional News Units which function from various radio stations

situated in different states.

In Malayalam, the radio news reel is called ‘Vartha Tharangini’,

which means ‘music of news’. It is broadcast on Mondays and

Thursdays from All India Radio, Thiruvananthapuram and on

Tuesdays and Fridays from All India Radio, Kozhikode.

The format of the program consists of recordings of actual news

events that are connected to each other by relevant commentaries

presented by a news reader. The news events are tape recorded and

then edited to sit the actual duration of the program – that is fifteen

minutes. Three or four events are usually included in one news reel.

The commentaries are framed so as to bring the news event

reported into focus. The necessary background information

necessary to understanding the significance of the event is

necessarily included in the commentary.

Oftentimes, a special recording by an important personality in

the news or by an expert is also included in the news reel. The

purpose behind including such recording is to explain the significance

of certain news developments to the radio listeners. The recording of

the prominent personality in the news will provide an authenticity to

the news reel while the inclusion of an expert opinion will help clarify

the issue at hand to the listener at large.

Another important aspect concerning the production of a news

reel is the necessity of ensuring the currency of the program. For this,

a keen sense of news and an awareness of various developments in

the political, cultural and developmental arena are most essential.

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The items covered in the news reel should have current relevance

and they must be ones about which the listener has an abiding

interest.

The language used in news reels is also significant. As in news

bulletins, brevity and clarity should be the hall marks of the language

used in news reel commentaries. The presenter is loaded with the

weighty responsibility of having to explain to the listener some very

complicated circumstances that leads to a particular political,

developmental or cultural crisis. To achieve this using short, simple

and expressive language is a real challenge.

Here, the discourse of news takes on a new color, mainly

because the language of the newsreel requires a bit of ‘color’. The

essence of a situation can often be expressed only by using a

language that is sited to the occasion. This means, the usual method

of eschewing adjectives that forms the back bone of news language

in general and the broadcast news discourse in particular, becomes

unsuitable as far as news reel commentaries are concerned. Here

some bits of descriptions as well as use of colorful adjectives to bring

out the essence of the events involved become necessary.

In this regard, it is important to note that two of the

characteristics noted earlier as defining the discoursal nature of

news, namely invisible audience as well as non reactive audience,

may appear to be at variance with the discourse of news reel and

inter active programs. This is not so because the reactions of the

audience form here a part of the discourse. Invisible and non reactive

audiences were posited as discoursal characteristics because they

explained the uni - linear nature of broadcast news. These still hold

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good as far as the discourse of radio news in itself is considered,

while it transforms into part of the very same discourse when the

discourse of news reels as well as news based inter active programs

are examined.

Content classification.

Analysis of the various news bulletins collected as part of this

study revealed that there are nine principal kinds of news stories that

are included in bulletins. (News men use the term ‘story’ for all news

items. They broadly classify news stories into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ and

employ differing techniques to report these different kinds of stories.

[Tuchman 1978]. As far as broadcast news is concerned, the main

stay of bulletins is usually hard stories while soft stories are taken up

for detailed treatment as news reel items, documentaries etc. In

newspapers also, the main news columns are usually taken up with

hard stories. Soft stories usually are included in the magazine and

feature sections. To accept a general definition, hard stories are

breaking stories that have to be covered within a definite time frame,

while soft stories are usually developing stories that are in the

process of unfolding and can be best explained in terms of extended

coverage.).

The nine kinds of news stories are as follows: politics, financial

and commercial, religious, legal, accident, death, sports, cultural and

miscellaneous. In any typical news bulletins, political stories and

financial stories occupy the prime of place. This is often because

developments in these spheres directly affect the people at large.

Sports stories are also given great importance because of the wide

interest that such stories generate.

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Legal and religion based stories are also covered widely in

bulletins. This is because of the popular appeal that such stories

have. The rulings of High Courts are covered in great detail by the

Pradesika Varthakal because of the far reaching consequences that

such rulings have on the life of the common people. Newspapers

have special correspondents with legal background for covering High

Court proceedings. Often, two or more papers jointly utilize the

services of a lawyer to get the latest details about ongoing cases in

the High Court.

All India Radio has a permanent reporter based in Kochi, one of

whose principal beat is the High Court. (Newspaper reporters divide

their responsibilities on the basis of beats. A beat is a regular

assignment carried out by a reporter or a team of reporters. Beats are

divided either on the basis of institutions covered, like the courts,

police stations, hospitals, educational institutions, fire force etc. Beats

are also organized on the basis of subject matter covered by the

reporter. Thus we can have reporters who cover education, legal

affairs, political parties etc. [Various journalism texts.]. However, All

India Radio does not have a permanent system of beats, mainly

because of the nature of coverage required, which is never as lengthy

or exhaustive as ordinary papers.).

Stories about temples, churches, mosques and their festivals

form an inevitable part of news bulletins. This is more so in the case

of regional bulletins because such festivals attract a lot of local

attention and hence assume a high news value. (News value is a

concept used by journalists to decide the importance of any news

story. The story is ‘played up’ or ‘toned down’ according to the news

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value it gets. Dalton Gage, one of the pioneering scholars in the field

of mass communication research has pin pointed nine conditions that

help in the establishment of news value. For example, the nearer an

incident takes place to a major newspaper publishing centre, the

higher will be its news value; thus, proximity is one of the conditions

that help in accruing news value to any incident.).

During pilgrimage seasons such as the annual festival at

Sabarimala (a major temple in the Idukki district of Kerala, where

Lord Ayyappa is the chief deity. The temple is situated atop a hill and

the nine mile trek to the temple is supposed to be holy and sacred.

The 41 day annual pilgrimage to the temple takes place in the months

of November, December and January) the temple attracts a huge

number of people. All news papers and the electronic media make

special arrangements to have people appointed in Sabarimala during

this season. All India Radio also has special arrangements for

providing commentary on the procession carrying the ornaments of

the deity and the special ceremonies in connection with the

Makaravilakku festival there. Similar is the case as far as the Ramzan

period of fasting, Easter and Christmas celebrations etc are

concerned.

The examination of the bulletins have revealed that of the 2500

items included in the 120 bulletins, 904 items (36.16%) concerned

political developments, while 285 items (only 11.4%) could be

attested for religious stories. Of these 285 items itself, a major part

concerned announcements regarding temple festivals. References to

temples and other religious institutions also occur in stories referring

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to accidents and deaths also, when such incidents occur in religious

institutions. Legal stories were 202 in number (8.08%).

Accident and death stories form a considerable amount of items

included in the regional bulletins. Again, there is always a local angle

in such stories. (Angle, slant, bias etc are some of the terms used by

journalists to describe the way in which a story is treated in a paper.

Of these, only the term angle refers to the process of treatment of a

story in a positive light. Slant and bias are negative terms that

ultimately question the very concept of the objectivity of a news story.

In one way, the process of treating any story in any particular way is a

negation of the principle of objectivity of news stories. However, in

practical terms, stories are usually published with an angle favorable

to the owners of the paper, its shareholders or the political ideology to

which they subscribe. [Texts on journalism like Dubuque, Mencher.M.

(1984) and White Ted (1996)]). This means, that the news value of a

death story depends mainly on the proximity of the person to the

centre of publication.

This is the reason why the death pages on newspapers vary

according to the region in which they are circulated. The particular

edition of the paper that is published from a particular centre will

publish the news of deaths that occur in the particular area. So, the

page in which such news is published varies from edition to edition.

Since the production and broadcast of radio news in India is

largely centralized – even though there may be different centers in

different regions – news bulletins tend to be more selective about the

death news stories carried by them. Prominence of the person who

died in the region of broadcast is one of the more general criterion

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that radio uses to fix the news value of a death story. Here the

concept of prominence applies not only to political arena but also to

literature, business, service, professions etc. Since Pradesika

varthakal covers most of the state of Kerala, a more generalized

approach is taken regarding death news by the All India Radio than

news papers which have the convenience of having a number of

editions suiting regional and local interests.

Another criterion usually applied is the nearness of the person

to the government and various political organizations. This is not an

official policy, but is more or less applied in an informal manner.

Tricky questions concerning the news worthiness of some death

stories are solved by the application of various un - official yardsticks.

This has been revealed by the personal interviews that the

researcher conducted with some professionals who used to be

involved in the news production. Excerpts from such interviews have

been included as an appendix to this thesis.

There is a curious system of announcement of deaths adopted

in radio bulletins, usually when they are related to important

personages in the political arena like ministers, Members of the

Parliament, Legislatures etc. For example, if a close relative of such a

prominent personality – the dead person may not be in any other way

news worthy – dies, the yardstick of prominence itself will make clear

that the story cannot be carried in the radio bulletin. As a way out of

this, the editors usually announce that the public programs of the

prominent personality concerned have been cancelled for a certain

period because of the demise of his relative.

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However, the examination of the 120 bulletins selected for our

analysis reveals that only 32 death stories have been attested. This

means that the percentage comes to only 1.28 %. But the number of

accident stories comes to 127 or 5.08%. Here the number of dead

people, the nearness of the accident site to the place and region of

broadcasting and finally the prominence of the persons died all come

into play in deciding the news worthiness of the story.

In any news bulletin, stories on finance, commerce and

business are very essential. Their importance can be placed next to

that of political stories. Newspapers often devote special pages for

publishing stories about commerce and finance. They have entire

pages detailing the movement of share prices, giving the price range

of agricultural products etc. Financial reporting is considered a

specialty within journalism and there even are papers like the

Economic Times, Business Line and Business Standard that publish

primarily news on economic and financial matters. In such papers the

publication of political news is only small part.

In All India Radio, commercial news such as price movements

of agricultural products, cash crops etc are basically dealt with the

section concerning agriculture – the Farm and Home unit. They

broadcast special programs and bulletins devoted exclusively to the

price levels in various markets.

In Pradesika Vathakal, financial news is covered along with

political news. In our corpus of 120 bulletins, 350 items on finance,

commerce and the markets have been attested. There have been 50

instances where the finance story assumed such great importance

that it was the lead story of the bulletins.

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In addition to this, there have been about 100 instances where

the finance story was placed as the lead story in the second bunch.

(A lead story in journalistic parlance means the main story of the day.

In news papers such stories occupy the first page and can be

identified separately by the kind and size of type used. In radio

bulletins, the lead story is the one that is placed at the beginning of

the bulletin. In the list of main stories read out at the beginning of the

bulletin, that is the headlines, the lead story is read out first. The

bulletin is usually organized in two sections known as bunches. The

announcement regarding the program – like ‘you are listening to

Pradesika Varthakal from All India Radio’ – indicates the division

between the two bunches. Nowadays certain advertisements are also

broadcast during this break between the two bunches. There are two

important points in the bulletin that ensures maximum attention of the

listening public. They are the first story that is read after the reading

of the headlines and the first story that is read after the break, in the

second bunch. This arrangement is just like the arrangement of news

in newspapers where there are special vantage points – like those

that come just below the fold of the paper when it is delivered to the

reader – that ensures the maximum attention for the particular news

item.). There have also been about 35 instances wherein the political

stories, especially those dealing with the announcement of cabinet

decisions, have had commerce and finance as their principal subject.

It is also worthy of note that of the 12 scripts used for the Vartha

Veekshanam (News and Views) used during the period under review,

four – that is one third – dealt with financial matters.

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Another important ingredient of all news bulletins is items on

sports and games. They attract the maximum attention as is attested

by the letters from listeners received about news bulletins. Many

letters are received when a factual error concerning sports items

inadvertently happens to go on air in any news bulletin.

The guidelines from the Director General of News in All India

Radio and the practice followed by such renowned broadcasting

organizations like the BBC is that sports items invariably form a

staple part of all bulletins. In addition to this, there are bulletins

exclusively devoted to sports and games items also. In Malayalam,

Pradesika Varthakal ensures that all prominent sports and games

events taking place within the region – for practical purposes region

that comes under the ambit of the various stations of All India Radio

in Kerala covers the whole of the state of Kerala - and some of the

more prominent ones like the Santhosh trophy football matches or the

Ranji Trophy cricket tournaments that takes place outside the state

and sometimes, as in the case of Champions Trophy cricket, even

outside the country, are included in its various bulletins.

But it is to be noted that there are no special bulletins

exclusively devoted to sports items in Malayalam. The Delhi station of

All India Radio broadcasts bulletins in English and Hindi every night

that includes only items on sports and games.

Of the 2500 items included in the analysis here, items

concerning sports and games come to 360. This works out to 14.4%.

This comes as the second highest percentage – the maximum

number of items dealing with politics and government.

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Finally there are items about cultural activities like art

exhibitions, book releases, music and dance programs etc. It is

noticeable in the case of such programs that the presence of

prominent personalities in the audience often increases the chances

of the program being included in the bulletin. Again press

conferences by artists are given wider coverage on radio rather than

the actual performance.

There may be two reasons for this. For one, the review,

appreciation and evaluation of a piece of art or an artistic

performance are more or less jobs that need specialized training and

attitude. The routine of radio bulletins and the severe time constraints

under which the bulletins are produced do not offer the time and

scope for such elaborate treatment of art and artists.

The second and perhaps the more important and practical

reason is that artistic performances are the mainstay of radio

programs as such. The bulk of the programming of radio, other than

news, is based mainly on music and allied arts. Hence, the thrust is

put on the views of artists rather than the actual artistic performances

as far as news bulletins are concerned.

The number of art and culture programs included in the

bulletins analyzed comes to 70. This forms 2.8%, which is higher than

only the percentage of items on deaths.

Finally, all other items dealing with a variety of subjects like

environment, science, education, life style, astrology, wild life etc

have been included in the sub heading of Miscellaneous. Here also

the number of items is 70 which again works out to 2.8% of the total

number of items analyzed, that is 2500.

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Discourse characteristics

The next step of the analysis is to describe the vocabulary and

constructions used in the news bulletins and to examine how they

reflect discourse techniques like cohesion and reference. But before

that, the effects of the subject wise variation that can be seen in all

news bulletins have to be recognized and properly understood.

As explained in the previous section, news bulletins cover a

variety of subject matter, not necessarily related to each other. This

means that the registral peculiarities of these various subject matters

necessarily have to be reflected in the bulletins. The aim of this thesis

is not to identify and describe such characteristics, because they do

not actually define the discourse of news. (A register is a variety of

language that mainly reflects the professional and functional

background of its users. A dialect is a variety of language that reflects

the social or geographical particularities of a language. These are

separate axes and they combine in a variety of ways that have social

as well as linguistic relevancies in the make up of any single person’s

use of any language. [Trudgill, 1985]).

Rather, this thesis concentrates on outlining the discourse

particularities of the language used in radio news bulletins and tries to

justify the proposition that there is a discourse variety special to radio

news bulletins. Vocabulary and construction are two elements that

form the cornerstones of identifying a discourse.

Before starting out on the actual process of analyzing

vocabulary, it is necessary to identify precisely what is actually meant

by the terms discourse, vocabulary and construction. For the practical

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purposes of description (as against the theoretical discussion

undertaken in the chapter entitled ‘Discourse of News”), discourse

can best be defined as a ‘description of rules and conventions

underlying the use of language in extended texts. It is also a

convenient general term for referring to language in action and the

patterns which characterize such types of action’. (Ericson Hobbe,

2001). This is an extended description of what was earlier (in the

chapter discussing Discourse) mentioned as discourse being the

study of language in action or in use.

It is the contention of this thesis that in extended texts that form

discourses, language tends to acquire a life of its own. It is this

language, a dynamic entity, which the discourse analyst hopes to

describe. Often, this personality of the language may be at odds to

the picture of language presented by both traditional grammarians as

well as descriptive linguists, because both treats of texts as isolated

examples of the language phenomenon.

‘Malayala Saili’ (Kuttikrishna Marar, 2003), is one such text that

has tried to approach the discourse of Malayalam newspapers from

the point of view of actual usage. Similarly, the Mathrubhumi

newspaper (Mathrubhumi is a major Malayalam newspaper with

editions from different parts of Kerala as well as from other cities in

the country) has a weekly column called ‘Chovva Dosam’ “The fault

of Mars”, wherein the use of language in its columns are discussed

and criticized.

Vocabulary and construction are the two most widely used

indices to identify a discourse. Vocabulary refers to the words used in

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the discourse, while construction, broadly, refers to the ways in which

the words are connected together to be able to convey meaning.

Here, it is to be especially noted that the term ‘vocabulary’ is

used in an extended sense. Traditionally vocabulary was used to

refer to the words used in a language. As far as linguistic analysis

was concerned, the question of correctly identifying what exactly is a

word has complicated the general standpoint regarding the nature of

vocabulary. The notions of lexeme, morpheme, sememe etc came up

in this context, and have complicated the issue.

In the context of this study, the term vocabulary is not

considered in isolation. Rather, here, vocabulary refers to all the

individual items that comprise any discourse. Thus, in addition to

what is traditionally considered as words, this study considers

punctuations, interjections, pauses and repetitive elements of speech

as vocabulary.

This enlarges the scope of the study. Also, since punctuations

etc are standard elements of any language when put to use, their

inclusion in the corpus will help in drawing a more factual and

detailed picture of the discourse of news.

David Crystal (1995) describes punctuations as defining

characteristics of language use. He says that punctuations are

actually correlates of silences in actual speech. Silences in actual

speech can be considered the vocal realizations of punctuations or

punctuation marks can be considered as graphical representations of

silences that occur in actual speech. He also posits four functions for

punctuation. They are grammar, prosody, rhetoric and semantic

nuances.

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In broadcast news, punctuations have great relevance,

because scripts prepared for news bulletins are primarily meant to be

read out aloud. The process of reading out aloud is facilitated by

punctuations, which are actually put into place by the editors and

reporters who actually write the scripts or by news readers and

presenters who later read them out on air. From this point of view, all

the four functions that Crystal enumerates become applicable to

news bulletins.

Crystal, in the same text, further elaborates that space also

should be treated as a form of punctuation. In a real sense, all letters

and all punctuation marks can be seen as manipulations of space in a

written form and as manipulations of time in the spoken form. In a

written text a letter is an indication as to how a word is to be formed,

while punctuation is an indication of a null set in the text. In a spoken

text, a letter indicates how a word should be pronounced; while the

punctuation indicates how long a pause should be extended.

In addition to this, the shape of a text is also important as far as

a news bulletin is concerned. (A bulletin has been included as an

appendix to show how the shape of a text indicates its practicality and

functions). As pointed by Crystal (ibid),”rules about space are part of

the way we formulate traditions about textual shape. It is (also) clear

that we – as readers have notions about the appropriate amount of

space in and around texts”.

White Ted (1996) elaborates on the importance of proper

selection of words as far as broadcasting is concerned. He

particularly points out to the typical nature of the vocabulary used in

broadcasting texts. For example, he specifically mentions about the

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power and strength of verbs in animating a primarily aural media

presentation. He says that “verbs play a vital role in broadcast writing.

Use present tense verbs in broadcast copy as much as possible.

Texts should be made to sound fresh without being dishonest or

misleading. Using the right object is also crucial. Look for strong

verbs that describe the action vividly.”

White also makes another crucial observation regarding the

nature of vocabulary in broadcast. This can simply be restated as

prefer the familiar words to unfamiliar ones. Since the hearers of the

radio bulletins have only an aural input and since the potential

hearers may be engaged in other activities also while simultaneously

listening to the broadcast program, it is of paramount importance that

the broadcast material should make immediate sense to the hearer.

For this it is always preferable to use familiar words rather than

unfamiliar words. As White puts it tersely “you don’t always need to

look for ways to replace says. It is a good verb”.

Damodaran Nair, in his unpublished manuscripts, also has a

word to say about the selection of vocabulary. Elaborating on the

need to develop a radio culture, on the lines of a ‘film culture’ as

advocated by the eminent film maker and director Satyajit Ray,

Damodaran Nair points out that the presenter himself should be

aware of the nuances of the text he presents over the radio. It is his

amount of awareness and understanding that is ultimately being

broadcast in a final sense. Vocabulary is one of the prime indices that

facilitate such understanding. Hence the selection of words, their

arrangement, the way in which the words are pronounced, the

pauses in between words and sentences all thus assume significance

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in the course of a radio presentation. All these factors together result

in what Damodaran Nair likes to call a ‘radio culture’.

He further explains that “just as the screenplay of a cinema

should be informed by a sense of structure, a radio program also

should possess a degree of unity and well formedness. The purity of

diction and the unclutteredness of pronunciation are invariable factors

that borne out the culture of radio”.

P K Ravindranath (2004) has also made a set of relevant

observations about the development of a broadcast culture, language

and presentation being the integral parts of such a culture. He points

out that “what is written for (the broadcast media) is to be spoken,

what is written for a newspaper is to be read. The vital difference has

to be borne in mind by anyone aspiring to be a newsreader….”

He continues with his observations that newspaper language is

often “stilted and staccato”. The newspaper assembles the story in

terms of its techniques like the intro, because the newspaper reader

always has the opportunity to go back through the pages and get a

clarification of what was not intelligible at the first reading, a liberty

that the radio or television listener cannot command under usual,

everyday circumstances.

This brings the broadcast journalist under persistent obligation

to be absolutely unambiguous as far as the language he uses is

concerned. He is also constantly under pressure to make the

sentences as brief as possible. This is supposed to make sentences

easy to read and easier still to understand.

Ravindranath also makes a relevant observation as to the

nature of vocabulary commonly used in broadcast contexts. He points

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out that, adjectives are classes of words that can be safely sacrificed

in broadcast language. He says that using an excess of adjectives

lead to two problems. One is that they challenge and question the

very principle of objectivity that is often regarded as the cornerstone

of news reporting. The other is that the use of adjectives is, more

often than not, in effect the pronouncement of value judgments on the

part of the editor. Such value judgments also color the way in which

the news is presented and ultimately, the manner in which it is

understood.

With regard to the selection of vocabulary specifically,

Ravindranath has an interesting observation to make. According to

him, the journalist has the primary duty to make sure about what he

wants to present. It is only when the journalist is clear of what he or

she is trying to communicate will the subject matter of what is being

communicated become intelligible. He offers a practical guideline in

the framing of sentences; “Be clear in your own mind about the

meaning of what you are saying. To make sure that you make sense

of what you say, repeat the sentence silently in your own mind”.

Krishna Warrior N V (1964) has, in an interesting article,

pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of broadcast language,

with reference to the preparation and presentation of radio talks. The

points made by Krishna Warrior, with regard to the language of talks

is relevant in all departments of broadcast.

He says that the basic characteristic of a radio talk is the

‘written script’. In a practical sense, a radio talk is only the reading out

of a script. But again, an important differentiation is that a script is not

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just an essay in the conventional sense. A good script may also be a

good essay; but all essays are not acceptable scripts.

A script basically is a ‘blue print’ of a radio talk – or of any radio

program. It is when the script is presented ‘on air’ that it becomes

alive, that it becomes different from an essay or a written article. N V

compares the reading of a script to traveling on a jetliner that can

move only forward. The conventional essay, to use the same

metaphor of air travel, can be compared to traveling in a helicopter.

To use N V’s own words,” reading an essay is like nature watching,

sitting in a helicopter that can move forward, backward or towards

any particular side. If necessary, it can also stand still for some time.

…At the same time, listening to a radio talk is akin to traveling on a

jetliner that can move forward only. One cannot stop, reconsider or

go back to hear what was said once again”.

Concentrating on the practical aspects of script writing, N V

says that the first sentence of every radio talk is very significant. He

says that the listener is at the liberty to stop listening at any point of

time, in course of the talk. So, it is important that the interests of the

listener are always sustained. No where is this more important than at

the start of the talk. The first sentence, the opening, should be ‘ear

catching’. The listener should be attracted into continued listening.

Although the point about a good start is not so relevant as far

as news scripts are concerned, the central point he makes, that is the

importance of sustaining listener interest at all points of the script is

relevant in the case of radio news scripts also. At each and every

point of the script, the listener should be engaged with the persistent

anxiety about ‘what comes next’. As far as news scripts are

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concerned, news in itself is a commodity that deals with what comes

next. So, the listener interest is maintained to some extent by the very

nature of the content in radio news scripts.

It is at this point that what N V says about the presentation of

scripts assumes added relevance. He says that the voice culture of

the radio presenter is an important factor as far as its attractiveness

for the listener is concerned. He repeatedly points out that the listener

should at no point feel that the script is being read out. It should

create an ambience of friendly, one to one conversation. This holds

good for news presentation too. The radio has an inter - personal

quality, that of a friendly acquaintance who has come to the listener’s

house. This should be made use of to the maximum. What better way

than to infuse a script with a conversational tone.

However, the usual techniques used to set such a tone are not

practical as far as radio news scripts are concerned. They include

using questions that directly involve the listener as a passive factor in

the program, usage of the inclusive pronounce like ‘we’ and ‘us’ to

include the listener in the script, including anecdotal material that

come within the everyday experiences of a majority of the listeners,

actively introduce the elements of the presenter’s personality on to

the script by the use of special items of vocabulary, constructions etc.

N V very poetically pictures the effect that such radio scripts

can produce in the minds of listeners. He says that the presenter

should try to convey all the picturesque ness of your personality into

the script. “Even a person who has a passing acquaintance should be

able to feel the warmth of your presence from your sound and way of

presentation”.

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N V concludes the article with the observation that a radio talk

becomes effective when there is the proper amalgamation of the

written with the spoken form of language. He says that it would be

more proper to say that in a radio talk spoken and written forms of a

language become one. Such a talk also becomes a form of art

because it transmits the personality and the feelings of the presenter.

Analysis of vocabulary.

As mentioned earlier, vocabulary and constructions are the two

primary indices that help in identifying a material as a piece of

discourse. This is because the archetypal characteristics of

discourse, reference and coherence are mainly realized through

these devices.

Discourse here is mainly intended to refer to extended texts

that are analyzed in terms of the functions they realize against the

background of their contexts. Reference refers to the characteristic

that such texts exhibit whereby one part of the text either anticipates

or recalls another part. Such references become necessary because

the text is being articulated in a specific context for specific purposes.

Anticipation or recall are techniques that facilitate the communication

of the discourse as a connected whole from the speaker to the

receiver.

Various texts on philosophy and psychology (for example,

Vernon, 2002) have pointed out that the attention span of the listener

is always limited by different extra textual factors also. These factors

are spread across both the time as well as space factors. Hence the

technique of reference is a practical tool that ensures the reception of

the discourse as a single, connected sample of communication.

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Here reference can also be made to the most modern way in

which communication is achieved – the internet. Because of the huge

volume of material that is transmitted over the internet, the system of

sending material in terms of packets, through various routes, is

commonly made use of. This ensures that the material is passed

through various points and reaches the ultimate decision within the

shortest possible time limit.

However, this means that the material send as separate

packets should be correctly identified and properly reassembled at

the point of reception to achieve effective communication. For this the

same principle of reference becomes inevitable. Thus it can be

argued that reference is a characteristic of any discourse that aims at

the communication of any extended texts that is displaced through

either time or space.

Again, another analogy can be drawn in this context, to the

methodology adopted by wire news agencies like the Reuters, the

Press Trust of India (PTI) etc. Here again the huge volume of material

transmitted makes it inevitable that they re dispatched as small

packets, technically called ‘takes’. These takes are labeled and

numbered for proper identification at the reception point. But, at the

same time, in order to ensure that the text that is reassembled reads

well and in a unitary fashion, the references in each take will have to

be constantly readjusted.

The system of takes makes for ease and efficiency in the use of

communication lines between the wire agency and its subscribers. It

also ensures that a large volume of material, with rivaling importance

and news value, are being moved over the communication lines

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together, in a coordinated fashion. As the material is send in terms of

short paragraphs (takes) it is easier for editors at various news

papers to edit them according to the varying editorial and proprietarily

requirements of each paper.

As far as news bulletins under analysis are concerned, the

technique of reference occurs basically in two contexts – intra bulletin

and extra bulletin. Reference is made within a single item in the

bulletin, between the earlier part of the item and the latter part. This is

referred to here as intra bulletin references. Intra bulletin references

can also mean reference made in one item of the bulletin to the

subject matter of another item in the same bulletin. There have also

been occasions wherein such references have occurred between

bulletins far removed in time. This can be a function of the time frame

within which some news events unfold. Court cases, police

investigations etc are some such events that are pertinent in this

context. Here there can be a wide time gap between the actual event,

the start of the investigation and the arrest and conviction of the

real culprits. News items on the progress of such stories necessitate

references within and without various bulletins.

Extra bulletin references also become relevant in such

contexts. In such cases the references made in the bulletins will refer

to people, places and events that completely lie outside the bulletin.

Quotations are the most common examples of such references. They

become necessary from point of view of authenticating the news item.

The characteristic of radio news bulletins – i.e., that they appeal to

the sense of immediacy of the hearer - also makes such references

inevitable. The sense of immediacy regarding the event, in terms of

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both time and space, can be realized only by such extra bulletin

references.

It is in this context that the visual representation of a news

bulletin and its audio presentation acquire particular relevance. In

written form, a quotation is marked off by a pair of inverted commas

that are pegged at the beginning and end of the quoted words.

These, in common parlance, are called ‘quotation marks’. In the

course of silent reading for comprehension, these marks serve as an

indication that the words under reference are quotations, spoken by

someone else.

The question becomes problematical in the context of news

reading and presentation. The news reader has to convey the

presence of quotation marks in the text and transmit the fact that

what is being read forms part of what some one else has said – i.e.

what is being said is an extra bulletin reference. In silent reading and

in non formal reading contexts the problem is tied over by making

explicit the presence of quotation marks by physically mentioning

them in the course of the presentation. Thus, usually, the reader or

presenter acknowledges the presence of quotation marks by saying ‘I

quote’ or by saying ‘in inverted commas’ etc.

However, since news reading on the radio is primarily a formal

exercise (Rosemary Hurston, 1988), such interpolations that do not

form actual part of the designated script are not usually allowed, by

convention. So, the reader or presenter is forced to refer to the

presence of such marks by a differing tone or by interpolating a

pause at both ends of the quotation, thus marking a difference from

the script as such.

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Intra bulletin

Intra bulletin references occur mainly of three types. They can

be in the form of words, phrases and clauses, or markers. Examples

of the first kind are most numerous, with our data of 2500 bulletins

yielding a total of 250 examples.

Of these itself, the use of pronouns are the most numerous and

common. Any person, institution or other entity, once referred to in a

bulletin, is later recalled in the form of pronouns. Of the pronouns

itself /adde:ham/ ‘that person honorary’ seems to have been attested

with the maximum frequency. /aya:l/, /adu/ and /avaR/ have also

been attested to, in this context. The preponderance of /adde:ham/

can be attributed to the formal nature of the medium, as also the

official nature of All India Radio, as a public institution.

The next most numerical instances of such references are the

use of abbreviated name of the person, institution or entity. For

example various corporations and government departments, which

are initially mentioned in full like the /samsta:na vaidyuti bo:Rd/

‘Kerala Electricity Board’ or the /samsta:na ro:d tra:nspo:Rt

co:rpoRe:san/ ‘KSRTC/ etc are later referred to by commonly used

abbreviations like the KSEB or the KSRTC.

However, another feature of both these kinds of references is

that all such instances are invariably interspersed with the references

made by including the name, position or institution in a repetitive

manner. For example, in an item with reference to a court case

against the Travancore Devaswam Board (the temple administration

wing of the state government in South Kerala), in between

subsequent references to the Board using pronouns, care is usually

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taken to make the reference explicit by mentioning its full name

/tiruvita:mku:R devaswam bo:Rd/ frequently. This is a seeming

anomaly and a negation of the principle of the technique of

referencing in discourses. However, here, the anomaly can be

explained and justified by having recourse to the characteristics of the

radio as an aural, audio, mass medium. Since this medium is

received by a large number of people in astonishingly varying sets of

conditions, it becomes necessary to tailor the content and

presentation of the bulletins to as near as possible to the lowest

common denominator. The elements in this denominator need not be

politically aware or formally well educated enough to grasp the

meaning and import of abbreviations or acronyms that lie within the

domain of even a primary level of elementary formal education.

Hence, the reference to names of prominent institutions, in full, at

various points of the bulletin, becomes a technical necessity and a

formal procedure.

Here, mass communication experts also make reference to the

repetitive elements that form a set of necessary elements of the

communication process. Such elements decrease the density of the

communication process and lighten them for the people to

understand all the more better. The process of repetition also makes

for easier recall of key elements of the communication. The standard

radio techniques of repeat headlines, frequent announcement of

station identity and program identity etc are practical applications of

the principle of dynamic repetition of key elements in the broadcast

discourse.

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Another element of significance here is the ever present chance

that people may tune in to a program midway. References may go

over the head for such listeners and there is always a chance that the

reference may hold no relevance for such listeners. The community

of radio listeners is so large that such listeners who come in midway

cannot be ignored as a negligible minority. (Rosemary Hurston,

1988).

At the same time, if references to institutions etc are always

made in full, these would intrude upon the strict timings that news

bulletins have to adhere to. The process of repeating lengthy names

in full a number of times may also lead to apathy among the listening

public.

Taking all these facts into consideration, the via media usually

adopted is to use pronouns or abbreviated forms interspersed with

the reference in full. However, special care is always taken to ensure

that any name is always introduced in full, at the first instance, in any

bulletin. There after, the reference usually alternates between

pronouns, abbreviations and full references.

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Phrases and clauses.

Phrases are another element used for attesting reference.

About 75 examples could be culled out from our data showing

phrases fulfilling the responsibility of making references.

Phrases are used in the same way as words in attesting

references. However, since they are longer, references using phrases

are limited. The reason for the wide variation in the number of

instances attested can be attributed to the nature of the broadcasting

medium. Here time is always at a high premium. Longer phrases take

more time to pronounce than the relatively shorter words. Hence,

news editors as well as readers prefer words to phrases.

Another reason is that the nature of reference itself is such that

it can be done more effectively by using words rather than phrases. A

reference is something that stands for something else. It refers to

what was said before and is intended to have all the attributes of what

was said before, even though the element of repetition is completely

absent. From this practical stand point also, words are more suited to

convey the sense of reference. Again, the element of time comes to

be in favor of words here also.

Some examples of word as well as phrasal references are as

follows:

1 /cm – tangal carca/ ‘discussion between Chief Minister and Tangal

(supreme of the Muslim League, a constituent of the United

Democratic Front in Kerala).

2. /vyakttamallennu pa:RTTi/ ‘party says not clear’. This item refers to

certain discussions taking place among the constituents of the Left

Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala. Here, the term /pa:RTTi/ itself is a

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word reference, indicating the CPI(M). Thus this reference is an

example of a double headed reference that functions both at the

levels of word as well as phrase.

3. /neraTTe:/ ‘earlier’. This example forms part of a news item that

yokes two parallel developments concerning a single news item.

However, since it occurs within a bulletin, it is taken here as an

instance of intra bulletin reference. The reference is to the then

ongoing tussle between A K Antony and K Karunakaran, two

prominent leaders and ex Chief Ministers of Kerala. Here, the

reference is made, contrasting the stands made by these leaders

then and some time before.

4. /pa:Naka:T tangalumaayi mukhyamantRi naTattiya caRca/

‘discussion held by the Chief Minister with Panakkad Tangal”. This is

also an example of a reference that functions at the levels of both

word and phrase or clause. The words /pa:Naka:T tangal/ as well as

/mukhyamantRi/ are word level references to two persons whose

identities have been clarified in the bulletin earlier. The word /caRca/

is also a word level reference. The whole clause itself is a reference,

at another level, referring to the main news revealed at the beginning

of the item. It is specially note worthy here that the referential value of

a clause is something more than the sum total of the referential

values of the individual words contained therein. Hence, these two

sets of references have to be considered original and independent of

each other. They are neither in the nature of complementing each

other, since the referent of the words as well as the clause are

completely different.

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5. /dharippicatine tutaRnnaN idu sa:dhikkyaate/ ‘it was after this was

informed that it could not be done’. Here, the clause is only a

fragment. However, the reference here is made by the word /idu/

‘this’. It is a clear example of a word level reference using a pronoun.

6. /sRi: murali:ddaran pinni:T kollattu paRannu/ ‘later Shri

Muralidharan said in Quilon’. Here, the reference works both at the

levels of word and phrase. At the word level, /pinni:T/ clearly makes

an anaphoric reference to what Muralidharan said later. At the phrase

level /pinniiDe kollattu/ makes a reference to the actual occasion.

Since the occasion lies out side the bulletin this has to be rightly

taken up as an extra bulletin reference.

7. /nikse:paTTinRe To:T kuRannu/ ‘the rate of investments

decreased’. This is also a word level reference. Here, the reference is

made by the word /nikse:pam/’deposit’.

8. /ko:likko:TTu naTanna paNimuTakku mu:lam/ ‘because of the

strike that took place at Kozhikode’. Here, the reference is made by

the term /panimuTakku/ ‘strike’. Here, a common generic term is used

to refer to a specific instance. This instance of reference is

noteworthy because of its special nature. The crux of the reference

here is carried by the word /panimuTakku/, but a greater clarity is

achieved by conjoining the term /ko:likko:TTu naTanna/ ‘took place in

Kozhikode’, with this word level reference. This is noteworthy

because it is an instance of the reference at one level being

reinforced at another level.

9. In a series of connected stories on a bus strike, carried in the same

bulletin, intra references can be seen to be developed like a chain.

Each story can be seen to be referring to the first story where the

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genesis, cause and course of the strike is detailed in full; each story

can also be seen as referring to each of the other stories in the chain,

each story reinforcing the spread, variety and strength of the

agitation. The chain is constructed by pegging on the name of the

place at the start of the story. Thus each story that forms part of the

chain starts with a place name like /kocciyil/ /kollatt/ etc. Each story

details the course of the agitation in that particular place. This

technique is used widely by news editors to ensure that all the links of

any particular story are truly covered.

10. Stories in a series are connected by using phrases also. This

technique is used when parallel developments in a story occur at

different places and involves different sets of people. In such cases,

the editor will have to make sure that all the different angles to the

story have been included in the bulletin. For this purpose phrases like

/ate: samayam/, ‘at the same time’, /atiniTe/ ‘in the mean time’, etc

are used. Differing from the use of using actual place names to

indicate how an event like an agitation spreads to different centres,

the use of phrases like /ate: samayam/ makes explicit the inter

connectedness of the parallel developments. This becomes

necessary for the proper understanding of the story because parallel

developments need not concern the same place or same set of

people.

11. /ate: samamayam nikse:pattinte to:t kuRannu/ is an example of

such a reference made in a story referring to financial and banking

developments. Here the reference is to certain steps taken by

financial circles to control inflation. Positive and negative results

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followed this decision and such results are added to the story by

making use of the phrase /aTee samayam/.

12. /ate: samayam niRdisTTa ko:TTayam ponkunnam reyil pa:ta

konT ya:toru pRayo:janavum uNTa:killenn…../. Here, the same

phrase is used to make a reference of a different nature. A parallel

development, occurring at a different centre, which is opposing in

character to the main development, is introduced with the phrase

/ate: samayam/. The story deals with the development of railways in

Kerala. Conflicting claims about laying rail lines connecting different

parts of the state are being made by regional leaders and

organizations. It is to one of the claims made by such organizations

that this story makes reference to.

In cases such as these, the references also function as an in

direct pointer to the popular perceptions about regional claims in

developmental issues. Although news bulletins are traditionally

thought of as objective exercises that concentrate only on presenting

facts and figures, an indirect thread of subjectivism cannot be

completely ruled out. In fact, while theorists like Defleur, Ball –

Rockeach et al (1975), Dubuque, Mencher.M. (1984) etc have

observed that traditionally objectivity of news is held sacrosanct,

newer studies in communication and journalism, especially those

from the point of view of sociology, have questioned the very

supposition that news is objective; for example see Tuchman.G

(1978). Against this background, the functioning of references has a

special significance. They suggest that from the point of view of

discourse analysis, which is basically the study of the dynamics of a

language and its special property of generating meanings, references

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are techniques basically used to position a news story in a certain

milieu. The story is ultimately understood in a positive or negative

sense on the basis of this milieu or setting. Thus, references can be

said to belie the avowed objectivity of news stories and journalistic

communication in general.

Extra bulletin references.

Extra bulletin references are very common in news bulletins

because they are necessary to indicate the intersection between the

bulletins and the real world they represent. Often, the intelligibility of a

news item may hinge upon an extra bulletin reference that may be far

removed in time and space. It is also common that references to

people, places and events outside the bulletin are concomitant with

the events unfolding within the bulletin.

Here are some examples of extra bulletin references collected

from the data:

1. /kalinna ma:sam a:rambhicca pRatye:ka haj vima:nangal vali/

‘using the special Haj air services that were started last month’

Here, the reference is to a development that took place

considerably removed in time. However, the intelligibility of the

story increases because of this reference. The reference is

classified as extra bulletin, but it can also be intra bulletin. Here,

the reference pertains to a development that took place outside

the frame of the bulletin. However, the commencement of the

Haj air services last month may have been noticed in the

bulletins also. Thus, they may also be termed as intra bulletin.

At the same time, it is convenient to term as intra bulletin

references only those references that occur within a single

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bulletin. Thus the present instance can clearly be classified as

an extra bulletin reference – that is both from the point of view

that it refers to an incident outside of the reference point of the

bulletin and from the point of view that even if the incident was

referred to earlier in the bulletin, it might have been in another

bulletin.

2. /se:sikkyunna pRasnangal yu:di:ephinte aTutta yo:gam caRcca

ceyyummenn sRi:a:ntaNi aRiyiccu/ ‘Shri Antony informed that

the remaining problems will be sorted out in the next meeting of

the UDF’. Here also the question of whether the ‘problems’

referred to have been mentioned in the bulletin, thus making

this an intra bulletin reference becomes relevant. However, the

anaphoric reference to the ‘next meeting of the UDF’ makes

this reference categorically an extra bulletin reference. Again,

the reference to the news conference by Antony is also an extra

bulletin reference. This categorization brings to light the larger

question of all references being basically extra bulletin. Viewed

in a wider context, the observation that all references are

basically extra bulletin would seem to hold water. However,

closer examination will reveal that the functioning of references

differ in certain ways warranting a differentiation between extra

bulletin and intra bulletin references. Extra bulletin references

allude to reference to materials that lie outside the bulletin per

se. Thus, the reference to a coming UDF meeting is clearly

extra bulletin. At the same time, the reference to Antony’s press

conference can be characterized as either extra bulletin or intra

bulletin. Since its happening lies outside the immediate purview

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of the bulletin the press conference can be termed extra

bulletin; however, the first part of the sentence, wherein

Antony’s declaration about future course of action is referred to,

can make the whole reference fall within the purview of intra

bulletin reference also. In general, it can be concluded that

references are always extra bulletin in a wide sense. At the

same time, the dynamics of reference, wherein the referent can

lie completely within, completely without or partially within and

partially without the bulletin, makes the question of classifying a

particular reference intra bulletin or extra bulletin. Thus it can be

logically concluded that intra bulletin references are a sub class

of extra bulletin references wherein the basic parameter will be

whether the primary referent lies within the bulletin or outside.

Temporal, Spatial and Personal.

Reference can also be classified on the basis of yet another

axis – that of the place, duration and person of the referent. Thus

reference can be either temporal or spatial. The earlier Haj story is an

example of both temporal and spatial reference. Here, the sir services

referred to are both removed from the bulletin proper along both the

axes of time and space. The reference can also be removed on either

of these axes alone also.

Here is another example; /pampayil innale reilve risaRve:san

ke:ndram ulghaaTanam ceyyukayaayirunnu adde:ham/. ‘That great

man was inaugurating the railway reservation center at Pampa

yesterday’. Here, there are three references. The first, /pampayil/ ‘in

Pampa’ is a purely spatial reference that makes clear where the

event took place and the fact that it is removed from where the

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bulletin is originating. The second /innale/ ‘yesterday’ is a purely

temporal reference that makes clear the timing of the event from the

stand point of the bulletin and its time of broadcast. The third

/adde:ham/ ‘that great man’ does not belong to either of these

classes because reference does not pertain to a time or place; rather

it is a personal reference to one of the key players in the news story.

/pa:Nakka:T siha:b tangaiuma:yi mukhyamantRi naTattiya

caRccayil…./ ‘during the course of the Chief Minister’s discussions

with Panakkad Shihab Thangal…’ Here the term /naTattiya/ ‘that was

made’ is a temporal as well as spatial reference. It makes clear that

the reference made is to something that took place which is removed

from both the time and place of the origin of the bulletin. /caRccayil/

‘in discussion’ is a reference that falls into either spatial or temporal

axes. It can also be deemed personal in that it makes clear what the

references made earlier by /naTattiya/ by allocating a name.

/vaTakkan jillakalil paNimuTakku……/ ‘in Northern districts the

strike was….’ Here, the term /vaTakkan jillakalil/ is both a spatial as

well as a personal reference. Spatially the reference is to some

districts removed from the place of origin of the bulletin. Personally,

by particularly referring to the districts by a generic name, the earlier

reference to the strike and its extant is made clear in the bulletin.

This is again a pointer to how the bulletin can in subtle ways

become subjectivized. Even by elaborating only on the facts of the

strike, a favorable or unfavorable picture of the same can be created

in the minds of the audience. The positioning of the item, whether it

was highlighted as a headline item or not, the items or stories that

preceded and succeeded the particular story are all pointers that help

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in creating a particular framework through which the news editor

makes the audience see a particular news story in a particular

manner. Even though such techniques may, on the face of it, be in

line with maintaining the objective nature of news, the listener of the

bulletin as well as the reader of the paper can see between the lines

and make a reading and interpretation of the story in line with the

particular ideology of the paper or broadcasting organization.

This forms part of the larger frame work of the discoursal nature

of radio news or even of news stories in general. Radio news begets

the nature of a discourse from two sets of parameters, one pertaining

to the language and the other pertaining to the medium. There are of

course some points where both the sets of parameters coincide and

the objectivity and subjectivisation of news is one such problem area.

Here, the language used and the technology of mass communication

act and react upon each other to produce a discourse that is unique

to broadcasting. One of the characteristics of such a discourse is the

super imposition of subtle subjectivity by overt and theoretical

objectivity.

By this is meant the practice followed in radio newsrooms of

holding facts as sacrosanct. The news story broadcast is never

allowed to deviate from its fidelity to facts; at the same time, through

subtle practices like arrangement of news items, the order in which

news items are broadcast, their placement (meaning what follows a

particular news story and what comes before it), whether the item

under question has been given headline treatment or not etc

determine the frame through which the organizers of the bulletin

wants the hearers to perceive the bulletin.

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Objectivity versus Subjectivity.

In this respect the comment made by Manjulakshi L.

(2003) is relevant. While discussing the role played by the mass

media in spreading awareness and thinking about language in

general, Manjulakshi observes that “Radio has a major role to play in

language. The language used in radio impacted the previous

generation very much. News broadcasts introduced chaste language,

closely modeled after the written variety. The newsreaders introduced

standard pronunciation values to the phonemes, words, phrases, and

sentences. The impact of radio language was heavy upon the written

style, rather than on the spoken idiom. This is somewhat strange,

considering the fact that radio is mainly an audio form”.

The analysis of radio news bulletins from the point of view of

discourse analysis also reveals that the language of news bulletins is

heavily modeled on the written variety of language, rather than on the

spoken form. Since radio in itself is seen primarily as an audio media,

the insistence on faithfulness to the written variety may seem

paradoxical.

But the fact is that radio news is a formal exercise that relies

heavily on the accumulation and articulation of facts. It is the

dependence on facts and the faithful rendering of facts that render

radio news bulletins their authority and respectability. To protect

these, the practice of reading out news bulletins from a prepared

script is usually adopted. Since the script is a written material, and

since the presentation of a news bulletin is primarily a reading out of

the script by a trained voice that has good broadcast qualities, the

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exercise of news reading becomes an amalgamation of writing,

reading and speaking. It is in this context that vocabulary and

constructions evolve as key elements in determining the discourse of

news bulletins.

In this context, it can be seen that radio bulletins can be nothing

but scripts modeled on the written variety of language. As the written

variety of any language is naturally more formal than its spoken

variety, the script of news bulletins become more characterized by

formality rather than by informality.

At the same time, the purpose of the news script is to be read

out aloud so that a large audience can hear what is being read. Here

the need to transcend narrow provincial considerations, like dialectal

elements become paramount. The necessity of being intelligible to a

large part of a linguistic unit – it maybe a state or it may be parts of

different states – necessitates that the pronunciation, enunciation,

construction and vocabulary choices all should be value neutral as far

as radio bulletins are concerned.

The question of formality versus informality in the presentation

of a news bulletin is a question that has never been satisfactorily

solved. This is because of the inherent duality of the radio news

discourse and the nature of radio as primarily a familiar medium to

ordinary people. The radio news is perceived as an authoritative

version of news among people. This has become all the more

stressed with the mushrooming of private news channels beaming

electronic visuals through out the day. An informal study conducted

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by the Media Monitoring Group, Nagpur (2004) says that out of

50,000 samples, spread over metros, small towns and rural areas

that came under its purview, 92% were of the opinion that news is

basically subjective and that radio news (here only All India Radio

comes into the picture, because only they put out radio news bulletins

on a regular basis) is the least subjective.

On detailed questioning by personal interviews, close to 50% of

the respondents were of the opinion that by objectivity they only

expected the presentation of news items. They pointed out to various

instances where news items were blocked out by rival Television

channels because they were against the political ideology subscribed

to by the parties owning the channels. The respondents in the study

were generally of the opinion that radio news put out by All India

Radio was generally free of such exclusions.

Here, it has to be specially noted that objectivity, in general

parlance, is only a phenomenon characterized by inclusivity. It does

not mean that objectivity in news is a one sided phenomenon. It also

does not refer to any lack of ideology, as elaborated by Kuttikrishna

marar in his famous work Bharatha paryadanam, where he equates

the quality of objectivity with a lack of commitment and belief in a

certain ideology. Rather, in journalistic parlance, objectivity is only the

process of presenting both sides of an issue and leaving it to the

reader or listener to make up his mind. (Various journalism

textbooks).

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But here also, it has been pointed out by scholars like

Mathewsson (2001), Jim Reeves (1999) etc, that the very process of

selecting a news item for broadcast or publication in itself is a

subjective act. Thus we have come a full circle, starting with the

supposition that in reality news cannot remain completely objective

and finally concluding that the maintenance of compete objectivity as

far as radio news is well nigh impossible.

Analysis of constructions.

Discourse is characterized by its own specific vocabulary

and constructions. Vocabulary becomes a marker of discourse by

underlining its referential aspect. This has been discussed in detail in

the previous sections. Next, the aspect of constructions is taken up

for discussion.

Construction refers to the different ways in which vocabulary

are arranged, so that various shades of meanings can be expressed.

As far as discourse is concerned, the principal function of language is

the communication of meaning. Discourse Analysis is one of the

techniques for identifying how meaning is generated in a language.

Notingham (2003) makes the following observation regarding

the role played by discourse in the generation of meaning. She

regards the principle of ‘cohesion’ as an important technique used in

discourse as a means to identify and generate meaning. Cohesion is

the factor present in any body of text that indicates the

connectedness of its content.

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One of the principal points she makes is that the relatedness of a text

is marked by means of cohesion. This is reinforced by reference.

As Halliday, M. A. K. and R. Hasan (1976) points out ‘cohesion

is what gives a text its texture’. They say that ‘cohesion and register

enable us to create a text. Register is concerned with what a text

means. It is defined by Halliday and Hasan as the "set of semantic

configuration that is typically associated with a particular class of

context of situation, and defines the substance of the text."

Cohesion, as contrasted with register, is not concerned with

what a text means. Rather, it refers to a set of meaning relations that

exist within the text. These relations are not of the kinds that link the

components of a sentence and they differ from sentential structure.

The discovery of these meaning relations is crucial to their

interpretation.

According to Halliday and Hasan, the function of cohesion is to

relate one part of a text to another part of the same text.

Consequently, it lends continuity to the text. By providing this kind of

text continuity, cohesion enables the reader or listener to supply all

the components of the picture to its interpretation. Halliday and

Hasan hold that cohesion in its normal form is the presupposition of

something that has gone before in the discourse, whether in the

immediately preceding sentence or not. This form of presupposition is

referred to as anaphoric. The presupposing item may point forward to

something following it. This type of presupposition is called

cataphoric. On the other hand, exophoric and endophoric

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presuppositions refer to an item of information outside and inside the

text, respectively.

Halliday and Hasan recognize five types of cohesive devices in

English and in the lexicogrammatical system of the language. They

are reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction, and lexical cohesion.

Reference, substitution, and ellipsis are grammatical; lexical cohesion

is lexical; conjunction stands on the border line between the two

categories. In other words, it is mainly grammatical but sometimes

involves lexical selection.’

From a slightly different point of view, Cameron Deborah (2001)

points out that cohesion and reference are actually specific indicators

of discoursal material. Reference can be viewed as a sub class of

cohesion; in other words, reference is a special kind of cohesion.

Together they mark the inter relatedness of longer pieces of texts.

Cohesion and reference are vital indicators of discourse from

another angle also. They are clear signposts as to how a text is to be

read. This is not against even the modern deconstructionist view of

literature wherein a text can have as many readings and as many

meanings as there are readers. Every text comes with an author

generated ‘preferred reading’ and this reading is marked in the

discourse by means of cohesion and reference.

Direct repetition, repetition of synonyms and near synonyms,

superordination, coherence and foregrounding are some of the

techniques commonly used to ensure cohesion in longer texts. Here,

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coherence in specific refers to the implied and sometimes explicit

relationship between references which are assured by means of

movement from general references to specific references and vice

versa.

Foregrounding refers to the practice of ensuring that the author

as well as the reader reads the text in the same way, from the same

point of view.

Another important reference that Notingham makes with regard

to the question of coherence is the question of a special kind of

reference and cohesion elements which she calls ‘demonstratives’ or

‘dietics’. This group of coherence elements is very important as far as

the audio medium, especially news and advertising, is concerned.

Dietics refers to words like this, these, those, that, here, there

etc which can be defined conveniently as verbal pointers. Their

principal function is to place the reader or hearer with reference to the

text or speaker. This function acquires all the more importance in a

medium where the only possible reference is the voice of the speaker

– the radio. The hearer does not have the convenience of any kind of

visual or tactical clue that can help him place the time or place or

persons around which the discourse evolves. Here, the only possible

elements he can call for help are these elements called dietics.

Advertisements, which are attempts at bringing a product and a

set of possible users as close as possible, are another area where

the use of dietics is wide spread. The frame of reference of an

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advertisement – again this is specially significant as far as an oral

and audio medium like radio is concerned – is enlarged outwardly to

include a potentially large number of prospective clients and

extended inwardly to include the presenter and producers of the

program, the artists involved etc by use of dietics. This technique

ensures that the distance between a radio program and its listeners is

shortened to the maximum possible.

In the case of dietics also we come to a feature of the news

discourse wherein the parameters of the medium as well as the

particularities of the language are drawn together in the creation of a

specific discourse of the radio news.

Elipses, substitutions and conjunctions are also techniques

used to achieve cohesion in a discourse. These three elements help

in pulling a text together, according to Notingham. Ellipses, though

they may occur in spoken discourse naturally, may have to be

inducted into written discourse artificially. This technique is used by

dramatists when writing radio dramas so that a sense and impression

of naturalness is created as well as a sense of affinity with the

audience is generated.

However, taking into concern the formal nature of radio news

bulletins, the uses of ellipses, conjunctions, abbreviations etc in radio

news bulletins is not possible. This is not necessary too because the

news reader is not expected to be come into close affinity with his

audience. The reader or presenter is a remote figure who presents

news from a higher ground where he has a much larger vision than

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his listeners. The authoritativeness of news programs is also derived

to a certain extent from this aloofness of the presenter from hi

intended audience.

At the same time it has to be ensured that the news reader and

his team do not stray far away from the parameter of instant

intelligibility. Here, the important thing is to be able to strike a balance

between an easy nearness to the listener and keep an articulate

distance from him so that clarity, objectivity and authoritativeness are

not compromised.

It is in this context that several writer’s guides like the Indira

Gandhi National Open University (1991) have emphasized the

importance of making the script sound. Informal words, short and

simple sentences, elimination of direct quotations, avoidance of all

but necessary adjectives and adverbs etc are some ways devised by

radio journalists to make a news script ‘sound’.

The same set of set text books mentioned above has given a

detailed explanation of the story structure of the news stories.

‘Broadcast journalists do not use the inverted pyramid story structure.

In its place they use something known as dramatic unity. The

dramatic unity structure has three parts: climax, cause and effect.

The climax of the story gives the listener the facts of the story in

about the same way the lead of a print news story does; it tells the

listener what happened. The cause portion of the story tells the cause

– why it happened, and the circumstances surrounding the event.

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The last part of the story relates to the effect and gives the listener

the context of the story and possibly some insight about what the

story will mean for the future.

Broadcast journalists should think of their stories as completed

circles rather than inverted pyramids. While the pyramid may be cut

without loosing the essential facts, the broadcast story, if written in

the unified fashion, cannot be cut from the bottom or any where else.

It stands as a whole unit.

Broadcast news stories must gain the attention of the listeners

from the beginning. The first words in the story are extremely

important. Getting the attention of the listener is sometimes more

important than summarizing the story or giving the most important

facts of the story.’

A story is analyzed in the book to show how a story meant for

the printed news paper changes structure when adapted for a

broadcast to be heard. The structure of a news paper story is given

first: ‘ India is turning out inferior products that are priced too high for

foreign customers and the problems go beyond a strong rupee, high

wages and high taxes, a Commerce Ministry spokesman reports.’ For

broadcast the story is typically recast as follows: ‘A Commerce

Ministry spokesman said that Indian products are of inferior quality

and are not worth the prices that are quoted.’

In the same text, the differences in the structure of print and

broadcast news stories are succinctly summed up. ’Broadcast news

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is written in a different form than the inverted pyramid structure.

Broadcast copy is written for the ear rather than the eyes: that is

writers must be aware that the consumers of broadcast news will be

listening to what is written, rather than reading it. In writing broadcast

copy, the writer is less concerned with making sure that a story is told

as completely and clearly as possible in a short amount of time.’

Here is what the Style Book of the All India Radio News

Services Division (1992) says about the technology of writing news

bulletins. In summarizing the guidelines, the style book cryptically

points out that ‘the radio is a spoken word medium. The news items

have to be brief. The style has to be conversational. The language

should be simple; sentences short and words such as are easily

understood by the average listener.’

With regard to reference, the style book makes special mention.

In the chapter entitled ‘Basic Guidelines for News writing for Radio’,

the compilers make clear that ‘these arise from the need to make

yourself understood, bring interesting and the latest information to the

listener in the brief time at your disposal and, of course, the nature of

the medium.’

For instance, the very question of the frame of reference of any

news story poses problems in broadcast news. How does one identify

the place and date of occurrence of any event in a printed news

story? For this, journalist use the technique of incorporating a dateline

at the top of the story which mentions both the date and place of

occurrence of the event mentioned in the story. But radio news does

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not have the time for mentioning the dateline separately. Here the

dateline has to be transformed into the body of the story itself and

thus be able to indicate the frame of reference of the story. The Style

Book also points out that ‘since there is no frame of reference (as

such) the radio bulletins, by structure, cannot use referential terms

such as ‘above’, ‘below’, ‘former’, ‘latter’ etc.’

Repetition is another tool of reference and cohesion that radio

news has to avoid to a large extent. This becomes very vital when

dealing with related stories. News papers have the liberty to publish

such stories separately. But in radio, they have to be places one after

the other and every time the same person need not be mentioned

fully. In such cases pronouns, titles, well known abbreviations,

nicknames etc can be used. For example the President of India ,may

be mentioned by name at the start of the story; thereafter every

reference to him in the same story and related stories may use only

the title and even pronouns.

But at the same time, the frequent use of pronouns as

reference and cohesion markers may tend to take away from the

intelligibility of the news story in general. As the Style Book explicitly

says, ‘the listener may miss the name of the individual or the place

the first time it occurs. So, in the second or subsequent sentence of

any story, the individual or place should be specified by name. In the

print medium the reader can go back and forth and pick up what he

missed, not so in the radio.’

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For example, take a news story that refers to some political

developments like the following; ‘The Karnataka Chief Minister Mr

Bangarappa denied today that any Tamils have been killed in

Bangalore during the disturbances in the past two days. He was

speaking to newsmen in Bangalore after a cabinet meeting in which

the latest situation in the state was reviewed. He appealed to the

people to maintain calm and asked the Police to enforce the law

impartially. He said he was in touch with the Central Government.’

Here, the continuous use of the pronoun ‘he’ in subsequent

sentences after the lead sentence leads to a confusion of

antecedents, since proper nouns like the police, the Central

government etc are introduced in between.

Another major point that is to be considered when discussing

the techniques of reference and cohesion in radio news is the frame

of reference. The news paper uses the date of publication as its

principal frame of reference and uses either the past tense or the

historic present to report day to day events. The events that are to

take place on the date of publication and the follow up developments

of events reported the day before are all mentioned using the deictic

‘today’.

The radio goes a step forward and uses the time of broadcast

as the principal frame of reference. Thus the terms ‘just now’, ‘a little

while ago’, ‘in a short time form now’ etc are used by news editors.

/alppam munp/ ‘a little while ago’, /alppa samayattinakam/ ‘in a short

while from now/ /ka:lattu pattu maNiyo:Te/ ‘by morning ten o’clock’

/mantRi sabha: yo:gattinu se:sam/ ‘after the cabinet meeting’ etc are

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some examples of such frames of references that can be attested

from our data.

The Style Book offers such examples of reference terms like ‘In

Mumbai today…’, ‘at the LokSabha a short while ago…..’, ‘speaking

at the UN……’ etc.

Discourse Structure of a News Bulletin.

From the foregoing discussion of the discoursal features of

radio news, it is possible to understand the structure of the news

bulletin. This again will help reinforce the central observation of this

thesis that radio news is actually a form of discourse that has to be

analyzed and understood from the point of view of function.

Broadcasting structure.

From a journalistic point of view a news bulletin can be divided

into four parts. (News Services Division, All India Radio (1992). They

are the headlines, the body of the bulletin, the break and the repeat

headlines. The headlines are pointers to the listeners about the main

items that will be included in the bulletin. Usually, the lead sentences

of important stories themselves are used as headlines. Editors justify

using the same sentence structure for headlines as well as for full

stories by pointing out that the replication of structures results in

quicker identification and comprehension of the relevant news item.

However, the style book for radio is clear about the fact that the

headlines should be composed as full, complete sentences. All India

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Radio also has specified the maximum number of headlines that a

news bulletin can effectively include. The relevant chapter in the Style

Book recommends that there can be at most four headlines for a ten

minute bulletin and five headlines for a fifteen minute bulletin.

The Style Book is also quite specific about how the bulletin

should be ordered. It says that bunching is an exercise that must e

undertaken with due diligence. Bunching actually refers to the

ordering of the items in a bulletin. This will be the order in which the

stories will be actually read out on air. It is not necessary to follow a

mechanical routine for bunching the bulletin. There is no rule that

insists on stories to be classified on the basis of their place of origin,

subject matter etc. All these are judgments to be taken by the

concerned news editor on the basis of the mater available. The basic

principle is that the first bunch that occurs before the break should

consist of the newsier of the stories available. By convention it should

also include at least two of the headline stories.

Connected items can be taken together, but here again it is

insisted that each of the connecting stories should be clearly

separated from each other. The stories can be linked together by

means of techniques such as references or cohesion markers. But

the Style Book insists that the important thing is that the transition

from one story to the next, the demarcation of the important story

from the unimportant one, should be smooth. It should not jar on the

sensibilities of the listener.

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The break normally occurs somewhere around the middle of

the bulletin. However there is no hard and fast rule about this.

According to the nature of the news fall (i.e. the nature of stories

available) the first bunch may occasionally overstep this time limit.

The second bunch usually opens with the third headline. There

are occasions when, because of the news value of stories, as many

as three headline stories may have to be included in the first bunch of

the bulletin itself. This often occurs in the case of bulletins originating

from regional stations, where the number of headlines is also more.

Discourse Structure.

Bell Allan et al, 1998 observe that news stories normally consist

of attribution, an abstract and the story proper. In radio news stories,

the attribution need not be direct. That is, in news papers the dateline

and the byline makes it clear, in a separate and clear manner, where

the story has originated, who wrote it, who supplied it to the paper

etc. In radio news stories, constraints of time prevent the process of

such detailed attribution. Rather, the attribution of the story is done

indirectly and often as part of the body of the story. Now a days, with

All India Radio also going in for a lot of voice casts from reporters on

the spot, attribution is often done by the reporter himself, in his own

voice, at the end of his voice cast.

The abstract consists of the lead sentence or the ‘intro’ of the

story. This will necessarily include the central event covered by the

news story and possibly one or more secondary events. This also

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means that some information about the setting of the event, the

characters involved etc are also given as part of the lead or abstract.

In news papers, the headline is also considered as part of the

abstract. This is because each separate news story in a paper is

invariably accompanied by a separate headline, which forms part of

the story itself. In radio news bulletins, the headlines are given

separately at the start of the bulletin. They are repeated at the end of

the bulletin also. Even though, most often, the lead sentence of the

story and its headline may be the same, they are invariably separated

in the structure of bulletin across the axis of time and hence it is not

possible to consider a story and its headline as a composite unit in

the case of a radio news bulletin.

The body of the story may consist of one or more episodes,

which in turn may involve one or more events. Here, events refer to

description of actions and actors, while episodes refer to clusters of

action that share a common location or actor. From this it also

becomes clear that attribution is also, in practice, a part of the event.

These three form the basic frame work of any news story.

However Bell etc have also described three other factors that make

for the intelligibility of the news story. These attributes assume

significance when we analyze news stories as exercises in

communication; that is when we examine a news story as a discourse

that exists as a function of actual use. The factors are background,

commentary and follow-up. In short, these represent the past, the

present and the future of the story.

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Background refers to the description of the events hat

happened in the past, leading to the particular news story. Frequently

these may be stories which appeared or where broadcast in earlier

news bulletins as separate stories themselves. They provide

essential knowledge without which the present story will have to

remain largely unintelligible to the average listener.

Commentary refers to the description of the event proper. It is

here that the question of the objectivity of news stories becomes

prominently highlighted. News stories are primarily descriptions of

what has happened and generally it is accepted that it is for the

readers and listeners to reach any conclusion about the description

they have read, heard or seen.

Follow – up refers to the story in future time. It narrates the

possible fall outs of the developments described as commentary, on

the basis of the knowledge that is available in the form of

background.

Here, a particular point to be noted is that the background to a

particular story could have been a story proper in an earlier time

scheme. Similarly, the follow – up to any story can again be

transformed into a story proper at any later time scheme. In short, the

demarcation of a news story into various parts is only an artificial

separation aimed at providing greater convenience to the process of

description and analysis. In real terms, these terms and concepts are

inter related and inter changeable to a large extend.

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Examples.

Against the context of the journalistic and discoursal view points, a

few news stories are analyzed here.

1. Text.

1./daridraRkku mungeNana nalki atista:na saukaryangal

meccappeTuttaanulla padhatikalkkaN e:Di:bi: va:yppa koNTu

mukhyama:yum lakshyamiTTiTTullatenn mukhya mantRi

e:ke:a:ntaNi parannu/ 2./gavaNmentinte bharaNa navi:karaNa

padhatiye kuRiccu mutiRnna ma:dhyama pRavRttakaRkka:yi

naTattiya silppasa:la tiruvanantapuratt ulkha:Tanam

ceyyukaya:yirunnu adde:ham/ 3./sa:mpattika vikasanam

ka:ryakshamama:kkuka dhana viniyo:gam vaRdhippikkuka

sa:mpattika suraksha uRappa:kkuka tuTangiyavaya:n e:di:bi:

va:yppayuTe lakshyangalenn adde:ham cu:NTikka:TTi/

4./va:yppayuTe palisa nirakk pattara satama:nama:Nenkilum

mu:nilonn gra:nta:yi labhikkyunnatu konT edha:Rdha nirakk ancu

satama:nattil alpam ku:Tutal ma:tRame: aaku:venn mukhya mantri

o:Rmmippiccu/ /mantRi ememhassan adhyakshana:yirunnu/ /ci:f

sekRatteRi pablik Rileesans dayarekter tuTangiyavaR

pRasangiccu/

English Translation.

‘Chief Minister A K Antony says that the ADB loan will be used

mainly to improve infra structural facilities, with an emphasis on

poor people. He was inaugurating a workshop held at

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Thiruvananthapuram for senior media representatives about the

governments Administration Modernization program. He pointed

out the aims of taking a loan from ADB included making economic

development more efficient, increase the effective implementation

of financial resources, ensure financial security etc. The Chief

Minister also reminded that although the real interest rate for the

loan was 10.5 percent, the actual rate would only be just a little

more than five percent. This is because thirty percent of the loan is

being provided as grant. Minister M M Hassan, Chief Secretary,

Public Relations Director etc also attended the function.’

Here it is easy to see how the first sentence functions as the

intro or lead. It relates to an important clarification by the Chief

Minister about a controversial financial exercise being conducted

by the Kerala Stae government at that time. (The story was the

lead story of the 12.30 pm bulletin in Malayalam broadcast from

Thriuvananthapuram on 5.1.2004.) The first two sentences

together can also be seen as the abstract of the story also. The

second line of the story also doubles as an attribution because it is

only in the second sentence that the context of the Chief Minister’s

statement is being explained. This is not an unusual journalistic

practice, because the mention of the Chief Minister and the ADB

loan in the opening sentence itself will make the listener attracted

to the item as it is a live issue that had generated a lot of

discussion in the public domain.

Here, the discourse practices of the broadcast medium, as

necessitated by both the nature of the medium and by the

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characteristics of the language are brought into sharp focus. As a

discourse, radio news scripts are characterized by essential

devices such as attribution, abstract etc. however, driven by the

necessities of the medium, these devices are used differently from

that of the print medium. However, this underscores the fact of the

existence of a discourse that is primarily intended for radio news.

The third sentence of the story is a clear example of how radio

news uses the available time constraints to efficient use. Here,

technically the sentence can be seen to be part of the body of the

story and it can also be seen that the sentence is part of the main

event described in the story – the inaugural speech of the Chief

Minister.

However, it is also possible to analyze the same sentence from

another point of view. From this point of view it can be seen that

the sentence is part of the background of the story. It explains how

the ADB loan is to be made use of by the state government. It is

also a reply by the Chief Minister to certain criticisms leveled

against his government by the opposition parties. Thus the

sentence can also be seen as part of the follow – up part of the

story.

This thesis seeks to under score the multi layered use of

language and structure in the audio medium, especially on the

transmission and communication of radio news. Because of the

severe time and space constraints that the news editor inevitably

works – these constraints are partly the result of the construct of

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the medium, partly the result of the specialized discourse made

necessary because of the former and also partly the result of the

particularities of the contexts in which the bulletin is broadcast and

in which it is received and heard. The third sentence of the news

story just analyzed makes clear the multi layered construction that

news stories usually have embedded within themselves.

The fourth sentence of the news story is also a multi layered

construct in that it also looks forward as well as backward. It

functions as a background for the proper comprehension of the

story and at the same time looks forward indicating the possible

fall out of the event described in the sentence. Again, at the same

time, the sentence can be seen as functioning as a part of the

main body of the story wherein the event described is fully a part

and parcel of the action happening then and there – a part of the

inaugural announcement made by the Chief Minister. Thus it can

be summarized that such multi layering is a part of the discourse

of radio discourse.

The fifth and last sentence of this story is a complete deviation

from the analytical frame work suggested above. This sentence is

rather a round up rather than a follow – up. It rounds up the event

described in the body of the story. It also gives in a very short and

brisk manner some additional features concerning the event which

will make the listener’s understanding of the same more clear and

complete.

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Amended discourse structure for radio news stories.

In short, the discourse structure of a radio news story is

different from that of a conventional news story that is printed in

a news paper. The reasons for such deviation are the nature of

the medium as well as the functional characteristics of the

language. Since the medium offers no scope for reiteration and

recapitulation of facts beyond a certain minimal limit and since

the language has to be restricted to severe length and diversity

limitations, taking into account the time frame within which the

bulletin has to be broadcast and listened to, the conventional

division of a news story into attribution, abstract, body,

commentary, background and follow up does not work in he

case of a radio news story.

Here it is safer to assume that the discourse structure is

wider and more variable. The various divisions proposed by

Bell et al hold good only in a theoretical sense. In reality what

happens is that as far as broadcast news stories are

concerned, these divisions merge into one another making the

discourse structure multi layered.

There is, for example, no attribution as such in broadcast

story. The frame of reference of the story evolves from the

structure of the body of the story itself. The date line and byline

of the story is never mentioned separately. Rather, information

regarding how the story evolved, where and who were the

principal characters involved etc have to be revealed in the

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course of the narration of the event itself. Here, the economy of

time, words and unity achieved suits the nature of the medium

in a very appropriate manner.

Another major difference between the discourse structure of

printed news stories and the broadcast news stories lies with

regard to the conclusion of the story. Printed news stories can

be generally considered forward looking matter. The emphasis

is often on any number of newer stories that can be generated

from a single news event. Thus, printed news stories usually

are wound up with the possibility of a follow up story being

mentioned. Such follow up material invariably lies in the future,

beyond the time and space limit of the news story that appears

in print.

However, in the case of broadcast stories, the stories are

usually wound up with a round up. The main features of the

event are either recapitulated or additional information

regarding the event which will make the comprehension of the

story better will be added as a part of the round up.

Example 2.

/ka:yamkulam taapa vaidyuti nilayattinRe sta:pita se:si

randa:yiratti munnu:Ru mega:va:TTa:yi vaRdhippikkyunnatin

samsta:na gavaNment entipi:si:yuma:yi dha:raNa:pattRam

oppu vaykkyum/ dravi:kRita pRakRiti va:taka TeRminal

sta:pikkyunnat sambandiccullata:yirikkyum it/ mukhya mantRi

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e:kke: a:ntaNi mantri sabha: yo:gattinu se:sam va:Rta:

le:khakare aRiyiccata:Nit/ ke:esaidi:si a:yirikkyum dharaNa:

pattRattil oppu vaykkyuka/ /mu:nu vaRsham kondu paddhadi

pu:Rti:karikkyukaya:Nu lakshyam/ /dRavi:kRita pRakRiti

va:takam indhanam a:kunnato:du ku:Ti ka:yamkulattu ninnulla

vaidyutiyuTe vila gaNNyama:yi kuRayumennu mukhya mantRi

cu:nDi ka:TTi/ /pa:lakka:d jillayile ati ru:ksama:ya varalca: stiti

gatikal ne:riDunnatin upa samitiye niyo:gikkya:num mantRi

sabha ti:ruma:niccu/ /jillayile gurutara:vasta pariganicc oru

varsha kka:latte:kkyu kaRshakaril ninnum vella karam

pirikkye:nTatillennum mantRi sabha t:iruma:niccata:yi mukhya

mantRi aRiyiccu/

Translation.

‘The state government will sign a memorandum of

understanding with the NTPC to increase the installed capacity

of the Kayamkulam thermal power plant to 2300 megawatt. The

memorandum will deal with the stetting up of a liquefied natural

gas terminal at Kayamkulam. This was disclosed by Chief

Minister A K Antony to news men after the cabinet meeting.

The memorandum will be signed by the KSIDC and the work on

the plant is expected to be completed within three years. The

Chief Minister pointed out that with the introduction of Liquified

Natural Gas, the fuel prices from Kayamkulam will come down

drastically. The Cabinet had also decided to appoint a sub

committee to look into the serious drought condition in

Palakkad district. The Chief Minister also said that the cabinet

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had decided to exempt farmers of the district from paying water

charges for a period of one year, in view of the severe drought

conditions.’

Analysis.

Here, the first sentence of the story is in the form of a

straight lead that gets into the core of the news story. It

indicates the future expansion program of the state’s

prestigious thermal power plant situated in a place called

Kayamkulam in Alleppy district of the Southern part of the state.

Thus, it can be seen that the very first sentence of the story, the

lead or intro is itself a follow up.

But here what is of special significance is that the lead

sentence is only one event in an episode. The episode that the

story concerns itself is the press conference convened by the

Chief Minister and the decision about the future expansion of

the thermal plant is only one event that forms part of the

episode.

In other words, in this case the intro of the story itself is

multi layered and carries the functions of an intro as well as a

follow up. It is these kinds of deviations that make up the

discourse of broadcast news and gives it a vitality that can be

matched only by the un rehearsed ebb and flow of natural

conversations. Here, the broadcast news story also comes

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closer to the ideal of imitating ordinary spoken language, in

structure at least.

The attribution in this story occurs only in the third

sentence. The frame of reference of the story also becomes

clear only in the third sentence.

The second sentence as well as the fourth sentence

functions as background, making clear the sequence of

developments that led to the main event depicted in the news

story.

The fifth sentence functions as a follow up. But, since the

sentence consists of an announcement by the Chief Minister,

standing at the point of the event itself, the sentence can also

be viewed as part of the body of the news text.

The sixth and seventh sentences of the story introduce a

new event into the story. These sentences together can be

visualized as forming another story that is ‘interiorised’ in the

first story. (Ayyappa Panikkar,2006). Here also the discourse

structure explained above remains valid, with the two

sentences taking on multi layered structures and functioning at

various levels.

(The theory of interiorization has been explained by

Ayyappa panikker as follows. ‘In a perceptive comment on the

theory of "interiorization," Krishna Rayan says: "Running one

word into another, one image into another, or one text into

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another can be done in either of two ways. One can be fixed

upon the other-this would be upari-sannivesha. Alternatively,

one can be darkly concealed inside the other, consciously or

unconsciously-this would be antassannivesha. Uparisannivesha

(insertion upon) is related to the principle of rendering manifest;

antassannivesha is related to the principle of rendering

obscure."

In one sense, this process may be related to the way two

words or images or texts are related to each other. The

alternative for a word or image or a text may be seen as the

other, which it tries to take within itself.

A sentence such as "The elephant is a huge animal," can

be translated by using corresponding words in the target

language for the lexical items in the original. "Aana oru valiya

mrigam aanu" is a possible, acceptable translation in

Malayalam, since the lexical terms have dictionary meanings,

and one may find exact equivalents or corresponding

expressions for them in Malayalam. But even here, if any

meaning other than the literal one of "big" is interiorized in the

word "huge," then another word may have to be used. (This is

interiorization at the word level). The difficulty increases in

proportion to the multiplicity of meanings for each word or

lexical item; difficulties may increase if the syntax also is

complicated. Tonal variations, which may be concealed from

the written language, but which are important in the oral

expression, may also add to the difficulty. This will necessitate

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interiorization at the phonological level.’ (This forms part of a

symposium on translation and examines the theory of

interiorisation, in the context of translation published in

Language in India, issue dated February, 2006.)

Elements of Humor.

Even though, it is not strictly speaking a part of the

analysis of the discourse structure of broadcast news stories,

certain elements like gender bias, humor, sources etc are also

indicative of particular discoursal qualities. Hence the news

items were examined from these points of view also.

Further more, the study of discourse in its wider

perspective – that of the creation and reflection of social life

through language – naturally involves the questions of

language – society interactions. Humor, gender etc are some of

the major points of such interactions. Hence, the analysis of

such interactions can be said to form part of the analysis of the

broadcast news discourse, although strictly not part of the

analysis of broadcast language.

It can also be noted in this context that another important

point of view of discourse analysis is the examination of power

relations as they are represented in language. Here gain

questions of gender bias, formal language, ritualistic forms etc

come to the fore. In this respect also the examination of

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discourse from some non linguistic points of view will yield

significant results.

Nothing can be farther away from news stories as humor,

in a structured sense. This is because the general overtone of

news, especially of radio news, is somber and serious. Hence

the basic discourse structure of news does not provide for

humor.

How ever, the stories themselves provide elements of

humor that are read by the audience themselves. In this regard

it can also be pointed out that the discourse structure of news

stories often help in highlighting the humorous aspects of the

stories.

The most important way in which this is done is through

the process of reference and cohesion that runs through out a

bulletin. This is actualized in terms of placement of items, the

order of items, and provision of headline status.

In our basic analysis of 2500 items, instances of direct

humor were so restricted as to be negligible. However,

instances of structural humor could be attested in 100 stories.

These include all the three kinds of referencing mentioned

above.

The most common method used is that of the

juxtaposition of material. For example, in some bulletins stories

of opposing nature were juxtaposed so as to evoke a smile in

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the faces of the hearers. Thus, in one bulletin of November 13,

it was observed that differing statements about the same

political development by ruling and opposition members were

juxtaposed with humorous results. Again, in another bulletin

(November 22) stories on a strike in one state were placed next

to increase of industrial production in another state. Here again,

even though unintentionally, an element of humor is being

presented in news bulletins.

A related question that has to be answered in this context

is that whether such expressions of humor contravene the

objectivity of news stories. Humor, basically, is a subjective

phenomenon. It is perception that always creates humor and

perception cannot but be individual. In the various instances

from radio news bulletins mentioned above, it can be read that

the placement of items, juxtaposing items of opposing nature,

was an editorial decision made on the basis of news value

judgments. That humor was read into these juxtapositions is a

subjective matter. Hence the presence of the subjective

element of humor in news items need not be a negation of the

basic objective nature of news bulletins.

Sensitivity to Gender Bias.

Another important aspect of discourse studies is the

analysis of power relations in society that is reflected in the

language. Here again the possibility of the relations themselves

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being structured by the language used is also taken into

consideration.

Gender studies are a new methodology of analyzing the

structure of society, with the woman’s view point as the focus.

Discourse analysts like Cameron (2001) have pointed out that

language is one of the elements used to create and sustain

separate gender identities in many societies. In Malayalam,

studies have been made with reference to the language used

by antharjanams (Namdoodiri women) and the separate

language used in Sanskrit dramas for women and inferior

characters.

Basically, gender studies consider the problem of gender

bias as seen from the point of view of male hierarchy. They see

this as a function of the power struggle that goes on in the

society between men and women. They see that language is

one of the tools used by the society to perpetuate the bias

against women. The recent PhD thesis by Dr S Prema

(Unpublished thesis, 2005, University of Kerala) has quoted a

number of examples wherein the same concepts and objects

are referred to by different names by men and women. Here,

the point is that the differentiation between men and women is

being emphasized by the repeated use and reference in

language. This repetitive reference slowly enters the collective

unconsciousness of the society and in course of time this

difference and the implied weakness of women becomes an

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accepted fact. Later still, language starts reflecting this bias as

an example of language reflecting society.

For example, Grossberg Lawrence, Ellen Wartella and D

Charles Whitney. (1998) have explained the conceptual

intricacies of the question of social identities in a succinct

manner. They say that it is not physiology or anatomy alone

that determine gender identity. People have to assume certain

social roles and practice certain kinds of behaviors. It is these

roles and behaviours that determine what is called gender

identity.

The reality of physiology and anatomy remain and as far

as language is concerned it is these realities that form the basis

for setting up a chain of differences that form the basis for a set

of signifieds, which again set up groups of semantic

differentiations that lie at the heart of meaning representation

which is the basic characteristic of language.

In short, discourse analysis defines identity as a cultural

construct. It is the product of the set of physical distinctions

seen in nature that is reproduced in language, reiterated and

strengthened by repetitious use and finally again represented

by language as a representation of nature and society as such.

What is to be perceived here is that it is language that has first

determined what is to be differentiated; it is the chain of

differentiations, what Derrida calls the ‘play of diffarences’, that

first determines the identity. Later, society accepts this

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differentiation whereupon language takes the next step to

perpetuate it through count less repetitive acts. This repetitions

result in the identities being accepted as part of a social reality,

which in turn is again reflected in the society. Thus, apparently

what is seen in language as a representation of society is

actually a re reflection or even a refraction of what was actually

perpetuated by language itself in the first instance.

The question of gender bias in broadcast news assumes

significance against the possibility of such refraction. For

example, All India Radio has all along insisted on the

meticulous use of honorifics. The major argument was that

since radio is a spoken medium, the avoidance or rejection of

honorifics would become tantamount to insulting the personality

referred to. It has also been pointed out that since the

possibility of any hearer at random switching on the radio set ‘in

situ’ (ie, in the middle of a programme) is always very real, it

makes sense to insist on the prudent use of honorifics. Thus,

the terms Shri and Srimati were being used by All India Radio.

Times changed and the use of honorifics became limited

to formal occasions. Here again, it was the media that was in

the van guard of the chain. The plethora of news channels in

the private sector, led by the printed medium, where space is

money, slowly evolved a system where the use of honorifics

was restricted to the minimum possible. This informality of the

medium was reflected in the society at large and again, as a

third step was refracted by the same media as a reflection of

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society! Now, All India Radio is also in the process of slowly

discarding the use of honorifics although a uniform pattern is

yet to evolve. Though not part of the corpora collected for the

study, in some of the bulletins in Malayalam from New Delhi

station of All India Radio, monitored in March, 2006, it was

found that the use of honorifics was being slowly discarded. In

the set of seven bulletins monitored during the week, honorifics

were used in 15 occasions and ignored in 12 occasions.

Thus, it is possible to conclude that the presence of

humor as well as the existence of gender bias are two of the

more important factors that characterize the discourse of

broadcast. In the case of the first, the element of humor need

not be consciously integrated into the bulletin. Humor, in news

bulletins, evolve as a function of typical news room procedures

like placing, bunching and head lining of news stories intended

for broadcast. The dynamics of broadcast news discourse

entails the juxtaposition of various kinds of stories – based on

subject matter, place of origin, sources etc – which in turn may

result in presenting a humorous world view which comes within

the familiar mental map of the average consumer of radio news.

And thus, it can be said, that humor in broadcast news is un

intended, but is the result of the dynamics of news discourse.

Another distinguishing feature of broadcast news is the

presence of gender bias. Here also, it is refraction of a social

reality previously engendered by the media themselves.

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In short, the analysis of radio news broadcast has

brought to light the following points.

1. The discourse of radio news broadcasts is

characterized by two sets of parameters that are

derived from the media and the language.

2. On this phenomenon, the characteristics of the

process of listening, whereby the broadcast news

is received and comprehended by the public, also

act.

3. The recordings and manuscripts are first

classified in terms of their content into nine

subjects. They are politics, development, religion,

culture, legal, death, accidents, sports and

miscellaneous. This classification provides one of

the bases for formulating the discoursal nature of

radio news broadcasts.

In other words, the wide variety of subjects that

are dealt with within a single news bulletin that lasts ten

minutes and on an average includes about 25 to 30 hand

written pages is an indication that a particular technique is

used for the preparation of the bulletin; it is this technique

that is described in this thesis as the discourse of

broadcast news.

4. Analysis of the various news bulletins collected

as part of this study revealed that there are nine

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principal kinds of news stories that are included

in bulletins.

5. Vocabulary and constructions are the two primary

indices that help in identifying a material as a

piece of discourse. This is because the

archetypal characteristics of discourse, reference

and coherence are mainly realized through these

devices.

6. The discussion of the discoursal features of radio

news, it is possible to understand the structure of

the news bulletin. This again will help reinforce

the central observation of this thesis that radio

news is actually a form of discourse that has to

be analyzed and understood from the point of

view of function.

7. The structure of a news bulletin from both the

journalistic point of view and the discourse

analysis point of view are discussed.

8. From these, it is possible to conclude that the

discourse of radio news is a separate entity

having its own characteristics.

9. Discourse is to be studied from the view points of

non linguistic parameters also. Thus the

presence or absence of humor as well as the

reality behind gender bias are factors that

determine the discoursal characteristics of

broadcast news. From this stand point this thesis

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concludes that humor does exist in broadcast

news, but only as a function of the dynamics of

the news discourse. Juxtaposition of related or un

related items are the most common source of

humor in news bulletins. Here juxtaposition can

also be seen as a variety of the discourse

techniques like reference and cohesion.

10. As far as the question of gender bias is

concerned, the thesis argues that such bias is

constructed in the collective unconsciousness of

the society by the media – specially electronic

media like radio and television – themselves. For

this, the potent medium of language is used by

the media. In a second stage, this bias is

absorbed into the collective unconsciousness of

the society as a whole. Later still, it is at the third

stage, that the same set of biases originally

rendered real by the media through the medium

of language – specifically through culturally value

laded sets of signifiers and signifieds – that the

same set of biases are refracted by the media as

a realistic portrayal of society. Actually, media ia

actually representing what they originally created

as a representation of reality!

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Chapter Six.

Conclusion.

This thesis dealt with the analysis of Malayalam Radio news

and the conclusion is that the language of radio news forms a special

kind of discourse. It posits that a particular discourse exists in the

mass media and that the radio uses a discourse that can be called a

sub set of the discourse of mass media.

The theoretical back ground of the study is described in

the first chapter. Radio is a potent mass medium that caters to a very

wide and varied audience. Mass media itself is formulated out of and

is governed by certain particular characteristics. These characteristics

form the justification for positing the ‘discourse of mass media’.

These characteristics are Janus faced and have two

orientations. One set of characteristics are generated from the

peculiar nature of the media itself. The other set of characteristics

owe their existence to the varied nature and endless creativity of

human languages.

Here, it is to be noted that language has been traditionally

viewed from either a prescriptive grammatical point of view or from a

descriptive linguistic point of view. Both these methodologies fall

short of describing and evaluating broadcast language because they

bypass the real objective of language use in mass media, which is

communication. From this point of view, radio language was analyzed

on the theoretical basis that language use is a form of discourse.

Against this background, this thesis has attempted to examine

the principal characteristics of the broadcast discourse and describe

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how they function in the broadcast context. The characteristics of the

process of mass communication, the special features of radio as a

broadcast medium and the particular nature of one of the

commodities conveyed by the medium, i.e. news, all together act and

interact with each other in the formation of a media language and a

broadcast news genre.

In the second chapter, the evolution of the radio as a powerful

mass medium is described, with emphasis on the history and

development of All India Radio. This emphasis is given mainly

because the present study takes place against Indian background,

where the principal player in the broadcast scenario is All India Radio.

As a prelude to analyzing the discourse of radio, it is necessary to

understand the working of the medium. In this chapter the focus is on

the development of radio as a mass medium and a description of

some of the salient techniques of broadcasting.

The historical perspective will help understand how the

medium makes use of language as an effective medium to

communicate as well as how the communicative nature of the

medium was shaped, to a considerably large extent, by the language

used for communication. The technological perspective will help in

understanding why radio programmes develop certain characteristics

and how the specialized discourse of the radio helps in facilitating

these programmes.

In the third chapter, the growth of All India Radio in Kerala and

the development of the News Services division are documented. The

various important developments up to 2005 are documented.

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The fourth chapter theoretically posits the existence of ‘the

discourse of radio news’ and defines its central characteristics. It is to

be noted here that in this context, the conceptualization of ‘the

discourse of radio news’ also assumes relevance. Here, the language

used is defined in terms of usage. The usage, at the same time, is

characterized by the medium, the content and the language. The fifth

chapter validates this with examples from Malayalam radio news. The

conclusions that are drawn from the study are summarized here.

Radio news forms a special subset of broadcast discourse and

merits exhaustive treatment of its own. The protean existence of the

mass media has affected the way society behaves and the way in

which individuals perceive society.

Language is the principal ingredient with which the mass media

interacts with the society and the individuals partake of the mass

media. Hence, the use of language in various forms of mass media

has acquired a range of specific characteristics.

These characteristics are Janus faced and have two

orientations. One set of characteristics are generated from the

peculiar nature of the media form itself. The other set of

characteristics owe their existence to the varied nature and endless

creativity of man’s linguistic ability.Radio is no exception. Neither is

radio news.

However, language has been traditionally viewed from either a

prescriptive grammatical point of view or from a descriptive linguistic

point of view. Both these methodologies fall short of describing and

evaluating broadcast language because they bypass the real

objective of language use or discourse in mass media that is

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communication. Hence, it becomes necessary to approach media

language as a form of discourse.

the discourse of news has to be self contained. All the

information that is necessary for the audience to decipher the

message has to be included in the script and its presentation. The

news reader is not in a position to see and gauge the reactions of the

audience and adjust his discourse accordingly. Similarly, the

audience is not in a position to interrupt a news bulletin and call for

explanations or additional information. Here, the characteristics of the

radio as an audio medium connect with The discourserial

characteristics of media language are the result of at least two sets of

parameters. One is the nature of mass communication and the other

are the characteristics of the medium used. The former sets the

larger discourse of which the latter becomes a particular genre. Thus,

radio news becomes a particular genre of the broadcast.

Against this background, this thesis has examined the principal

characteristics of the broadcast discourse and examined how they

function in the broadcast genre. The characteristics of the process of

mass communication, the special features of radio as a broadcast

medium and the particular nature of one of the commodities

conveyed by the medium, i.e. news, all form act and interact each

other in the formation of a media language and a broadcast news

genre.

The basic characteristics of the broadcast media have a

significant role in shaping up the form and content of the news script.

The factors are:

• 1, invisible audience,

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• 2, non reactive audience,

• 3, live broadcast,

• 4, written script,

• 5, number of items,

• 6, complete sentence structures,

• 7, relatively short sentences,

• 8, selection of lexical items,

• 9, grammatical markers and sense markers.

The first two factors arise out of the fact that radio news arises

out of a written script. When the third, fourth and fifth factors are also

considered, they may together be considered to refer to the

characteristics of the broadcast medium. The fifth factor, along with

the remaining four, refers to the features of radio news a spoken,

read and listened discourse.

The first two factors underline the fact that the rigors of the

prepared script as a written medium.

On another axis, the script is an arrangement of words on a

page aimed at expressing a set of meanings and ideas. It is shaped

in a desired manner by the use of devices like spelling, divisions like

sentences, paragraphs etc and punctuation. At the same time, this

script has to be realized through the news readers’ voices. The

various dimensions and nuances of the script and the message it

encodes have to be realized through the pitch, rhythm, stress and

intonation of the news reader. The success of the news discourse lies

in the efficiency with which the written discourse of the script is

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translated into the read discourse of the news reader, so as to reflect

the preferred reading.

The first five factors can also be said to arise out of the

particularities of the broadcast medium. By convention, news

broadcasts are always done live; that is, the presentation and

transmission of the news broadcast are always simultaneous. This

means the news reader has to be alert to minimize faults because

there is never scope for editing, in the course of presentation. It also

means that the amount of matter that goes into a bulletin has to be

necessarily circumscribed by the length of the broadcast. There is a

physical limit to the number of items that can be read within the

allotted time limit. There is also no scope for a wide variety of

sentence structures, new lexical items etc because the reader as well

as the listener will not have the time to reflect on and understand the

relevance of such nuances.

The final five characteristics define the language of radio

discourse. They help in delivering the written script into an oral

presentation. For example, radio news writers are rigorously trained

in framing short sentences. They are often asked to keep to one

theme per sentence, as a practical method of curbing sentence

length. News readers and editors also become quite adept in

presenting any major idea using self contained, short sentences.

They judge the length of sentences in terms of breath length – the

length of sentences that they can aspirate comfortably, without

pausing for breath. The main drawback of standardizing sentence

length is that such breath lengths vary individually. So, the one theme

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per sentence technique has been accepted with quite efficient

success in determining the sentence length of broadcast material.

The discourse of radio news is generated out of a script

prepared by a set of reporters and editors. They follow a set of

conventions. They may also follow a style book which lays down rules

of punctuation, spelling, prosody etc.

This means radio news presentation involves two processes

with differing requirements at the same time. It is a script that is

written for reading. That means, it is written in for comprehension

and read out for communication.

Here a significant differentiation arises. A news script is

something more than what is written down for others to read. It is a

script written down to be read out aloud. So, the differences between

the processes of writing, reading and listening all come to the fore

and problematise the process of radio news presentation.

It is also to be noted here that the broadcast of a news bulletin

involves at least three stages, which have their own differing criterion.

In the first stage, a script is generated, based either on a report filed

by a correspondent or on the basis of what is called ‘wire copy’. (Wire

copy refers to matter originally provided by the news agencies like

Press Trust of India – PTI and the United News of India – UNI. They

are usually in English and are oriented more for the requirements of

the print media.) Translation to the regional language and

adjustments for broadcast language usually takes place at this stage,

although the tenets of written language are mainly followed here.

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In the second stage the editor and the news reader goes

through the copy and stylistic corrections are made to the script.

Here, the conventions of reading and reading out aloud attain

prominence.

Finally at the third stage of actual broadcast, the efficacy of the

script has to be evaluated. Here, the conventions of listening become

paramount.

The visual representation of a news bulletin and its audio

presentation acquire particular relevance. In written form, a quotation

is marked off by a pair of inverted commas that are pegged at the

beginning and end of the quoted words. These, in common parlance,

are called ‘quotation marks’. In the course of silent reading for

comprehension, these marks serve as an indication that the words

under reference are quotations, spoken by someone else.

The question becomes problematical in the context of news

reading and presentation. The news reader has to convey the

presence of quotation marks in the text and transmit the fact that

what is being read forms part of what some one else has said – i.e.

what is being said is an extra bulletin reference. In silent reading and

in non formal reading contexts the problem is tied over by making

explicit the presence of quotation marks by physically mentioning

them in the course of the presentation. Thus, usually, the reader or

presenter acknowledges the presence of quotation marks by saying ‘I

quote’ or by saying ‘in inverted commas’ etc.

However, since news reading on the radio is primarily a formal

exercise (Rosemary Hurston, 1988), such interpolations that do not

form actual part of the designated script are not usually allowed, by

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convention. So, the reader or presenter is forced to refer to the

presence of such marks by a differing tone or by interpolating a

pause at both ends of the quotation, thus marking a difference from

the script as such.

Although news bulletins are traditionally thought of as objective

exercises that concentrate only on presenting facts and figures, an

indirect thread of subjectivism cannot be completely ruled out. In fact

theorists like Defleur, Ball – Rockeach et al (1975), Dubuque,

Mencher.M. (1984) etc has observed that traditionally objectivity of

news is held sacrosanct. However, newer studies in communication

and journalism, especially those from the point of view of sociology,

have questioned the very supposition that news is objective; for

example see Tuchman.G (1978). Against this background, the

functioning of references has a special significance. They suggest

that from the point of view of discourse analysis, which is basically

the study of the dynamics of a language and its special property of

generating meanings, references are techniques basically used to

position a news story in a certain milieu. The story is ultimately

understood in a positive or negative sense on the basis of this milieu

or setting. Thus, references can be sad to belie the avowed

objectivity of news stories and journalistic communication in general.

In general, it can be concluded that references are always extra

bulletin in a wide sense. At the same time, the dynamics of reference,

wherein the referent can lie completely within, completely without or

partially within and partially without the bulletin, makes the wuestion

of classifying a particular reference intra bulletin or extra bulletin.

Thus it can be logically concluded that intra bulletin references are a

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sub class of extra bulletin references wherein the basic parameter will

be whether the primary referent lies within the bulletin or outside.

Radio news begets the nature of a discourse from two sets of

parameters, one pertaining to the language and the other pertaining

to the medium. There are of course some points where both the sets

of parameters coincide and the objectivity and subjectivisation of

news is one such problem area. Here, the language used and the

technology of mass communication act and react upon each other to

produce a discourse that is unique to broadcasting. One of the

characteristics of such a discourse is the super imposition of subtle

subjectivity of overt and theoretical objectivity.

By this is meant the practice followed in radio newsrooms of

holding facts as sacrosanct. The news story broadcast is never

allowed to deviate from its fidelity to facts; at the same time, through

subtle practices like arrangement of news items, the order in which

news items are broadcast, their placement (meaning what follows a

particular news story and what comes before it), whether the item

under question has been given headline treatment or not etc

determine the frame through which the organizers of the bulletin

wants the hearers to perceive the bulletin.

Construction refers to the different ways in which vocabulary is

arranged, so that various shades of meanings can be expressed. As

far as discourse is concerned, the principal function of language is

the communication of meaning. Discourse Analysis is one of the

techniques for identifying how meaning is generated in a language.

Notingham (2003) makes the following observation regarding

the role played by discourse in the generation of meaning. She

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regards the principle of ‘cohesion’ as an important technique used in

discourse as a means to identify and generate meaning. Cohesion is

the factor present in any body of text that indicates the

connectedness of its content.

As Halliday, M. A. K. and R. Hasan (1976) points out ‘cohesion

is what gives a text its texture’. They say that ‘cohesion and register

enable us to create a text. Register is concerned with what a text

means. It is defined by Halliday and Hasan as the "set of semantic

configuration that is typically associated with a particular class of

context of situation, and defines the substance of the text."

According to Halliday and Hasan, the function of cohesion is to

relate one part of a text to another part of the same text.

Consequently, it lends continuity to the text. By providing this kind of

text continuity, cohesion enables the reader or listener to supply all

the components of the picture to its interpretation. Halliday and

Hasan hold that cohesion in its normal form, is the presupposition of

something that has gone before in the discourse, whether in the

immediately preceding sentence or not. This form of presupposition is

referred to as anaphoric. The presupposing item may point forward to

something following it. This type of presupposition is called

cataphoric. On the other hand, exophoric and endophoric

presuppositions refer to an item of information outside and inside the

text, respectively.

Cohesion and reference are vital indicators of discourse from

another angle also. They are clear signposts as to how a text is to be

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read. This is not against even the modern deconstructionist view of

literature wherein a text can have as many readings and as many

meanings as there are readers. Every text comes with an author

generated ‘preferred reading’ and this reading is marked in the

discourse by means of cohesion and reference.

Another important reference that Notingham makes with regard

to the question of coherence is the question of a special kind of

reference and cohesion elements which she calls ‘demonstratives’ or

‘dietics’. This group of coherence elements is very important as far as

the audio medium, especially news and advertising, is concerned.

Dietics refers to words like this, these, those, that here, there

etc which can be defined conveniently as verbal pointers. Their

principal function is to place the reader or hearer with reference to the

text or speaker. This function acquires all the more importance in a

medium where the only possible reference is the voice of the speaker

– the radio. The hearer does not have the convenience of any kind of

visual or tactical clue that can help him place the time or place or

persons around which the discourse evolves. Here, the only possible

elements he can call for help are these elements called dietics.

Advertisements, which are attempts at bringing a product and a

set of possible users as close as possible, are another area where

the use of dietics is wide spread. The frame of reference of an

advertisement – again this is specially significant as far as an oral

and audio medium like radio is concerned – is enlarged outwardly to

include a potentially large number of prospective clients and

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extended inwardly to include the presenter and producers of the

program, the artists involved etc by use of dietics. This technique

ensures that the distance between a radio program and its listeners is

shortened to the maximum possible.

In the case of dietics also we come to a feature of the news

discourse wherein the parameters of the medium as well as the

particularities of the language are drawn together in the creation of a

specific discourse of the radio news.

Elipses, substitutions and conjunctions are also techniques

used to achieve cohesion in a discourse. These three elements help

in pulling a text together, according to Notingham. Ellipses, though

they may occur in spoken discourse naturally, may have to be

inducted into written discourse artificially. This technique is used by

dramatists when writing radio dramas so that a sense and impression

of naturalness is created as well as a sense of affinity with the

audience is generated.

However, taking into concern the formal nature of radio news

bulletins, the uses of ellipses, conjunctions, abbreviations etc in radio

news bulletins is not possible. This is not necessary too because the

news reader is not expected to be come into close affinity with his

audience. The reader or presenter is a remote figure who presents

news from a higher ground where he has a much larger vision than

his listeners. The authoritativeness of news programs is also derived

to a certain extent from this aloofness of the presenter from hi

intended audience.

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The discourse practices of the broadcast medium, as

necessitated by both the nature of the medium and by the

characteristics of the language are brought into sharp focus. As a

discourse, radio news scripts are characterized by essential

devices such as attribution, abstract etc. however, driven by the

necessities of the medium, these devices are used differently from

that of the print medium. However, this underscores the fact of the

existence of a discourse that is primarily intended for radio news.

This thesis seeks to under score the multi layered use of

language and structure in the audio medium, especially on the

transmission and communication of radio news. Because of the

severe time and space constraints that the news editor inevitably

works – these constraints are partly the result of the construct of

the medium, partly the result of the specialized discourse made

necessary because of the former and also partly the result of the

particularities of the contexts in which the bulletin is broadcast and

in which it is received and heard.

The discourse structure of a radio news story is different

from that of a conventional news story that is printed in a news paper.

The reasons for such deviation are the nature of the medium as well

as the functional characteristics of the language. Since the medium

offers no scope for reiteration and recapitulation of facts beyond a

certain minimal limit and since the language has to be restricted to

severe length and diversity limitations, taking into account the time

frame within which the bulletin has to be broadcast and listened to,

the conventional division of a news story into attribution, abstract,

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body, commentary, background and follow up does not work in he

case of a radio news story.

Here it is safer to assume that the discourse structure is wider

and more variable. The various divisions proposed by Bell et al hold

good only in a theoretical sense. In reality what happens is that as far

as broadcast news stories are concerned, these divisions merge into

one another making the discourse structure multi layered.

There is, for example, no attribution as such in broadcast story.

The frame of reference of the story evolves from the structure of the

body of the story itself. The date line and byline of the story is never

mentioned separately. Rather, information regarding how the story

evolved, where and who were the principal characters involved etc

have to be revealed in the course of the narration of the event itself.

Here, the economy of time, words and unity achieved suits the nature

of the medium in a very appropriate manner.

Another major difference between the discourse structure of

printed news stories and the broadcast news stories lies with regard

to the conclusion of the story. Printed news stories can be generally

considered forward looking matter. The emphasis is often on any

number of newer stories that can be generated from a single news

event. Thus, printed news stories usually are wound up with the

possibility of a follow up story being mentioned. Such follow up

material invariably lies in the future, beyond the time and space limit

of the news story that appears in print.

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However, in the case of broadcast stories, the stories are usually

wound up with a round up. The main features of the event are either

recapitulated or additional information regarding the event which will

make the comprehension of the story better will be added as a part of

the round up.

The question of the role and function of language in

communication have been examined by sociologists from another

interesting point of view. Grossberg et al (1998) have explained this

approach in great detail. . They explain the working of the media from

the points of view of two models – the transmission model and the

cultural model. The former is ‘the process of moving messages from

a sender through a medium to a receiver”. Here the cardinal

questions involved in analyzing the language of the media are who

said what to whom on which medium and to what effect.

The cultural model of communication sees the process as “the

construction of a shared space or map of meaning within which

people co exist”. Here, language of the media is not an isolated

phenomenon; rather it is involved in the generation as well as the

realization of meaning and its communication within a society. (pp 18,

19 and 20).

As far as the transmission model is concerned, the prime

purpose of communication is to ensure that the receiver decodes the

same meaning transmitted by the sender through a medium. The

more the correlation of meaning at the two ends of the transmission,

the higher the communication equivalence of the process. As far as

the cultural model of communication is concerned, the meaning of the

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communication is the result of the world view, knowledge and

perceptions of both the sender and the receiver. Hence the possibility

that the encoding of the message and its decoding may result in

divergent sets of meanings cannot and need not be ruled out.

Against this background, the language of communication is to

be understood as the result of the combination of at least three sets

of postulates. They concern the nature of the text, the content of the

text and the interpretation of the text. Connecting these three facets

of communication is the concept of meaning which can be described

as the prime function of communication.

Meaning has been conceived both as representational and as

conceptual. In the former it is taken that language acquires meaning

because of the one on one representation of things seen in the world

and encountered by people inhabiting the world. The conceptual view

concerning meaning says that meaning is the product of the inter

relationship of the society with the world. Meaning is generated when

members of a society encounter a phenomenon and want to convey it

to others.

Grossberg et al concludes saying that “people live in a world of

meanings and interpretations, organized by codes of differences.

They do not make those meanings: they do not interpret their world

for themselves. Nor does the world come already interpreted apart

from human activity. People live within the codes, the systems of

differences, and the articulations by which those codes have been

stitched together in various ways. They live within a culture, and the

process by which that culture is produced, maintained, repaired and

transformed is communication. …..Communication cannot be

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separated from the world that it communicates or from the codes that

make it possible to communicate”.

For precisely this reason, it is important to understand the

workings of the codes and signs of the mass media. This is all the

more significant because media represents the most widely used and

perceived sets of codes and signs. In this thesis, additionally, the

system of codes and signs are seen in the light of the communicative

function that they full - fill, that is as a discourse. Here it is not the

correctness or otherwise of the texts, codes and signs that assume

significance. Rather, it is the discourse value appropriated by the text

in a particular context that is considered significant. Thus, here

media, text, discourse and codes appear as inter related

phenomenon that act one on the other in the generation and

perception of socially significant meanings and relevancies.

Finally, this thesis concludes with a discussion of how the

discourse characteristics of the radio news bulletins result in the

development of a discourse structure. To describe the discourse

structure of the radio news bulletins, the thesis has first attempted to

describe the news bulletins in terms of the journalistic structure

consisting of leads, intros, body of the story, headlines and bunching.

These terms are used in a technical sense in journalism and

broadcasting.

These terms are then connected to the terms used in the

analysis of broadcast discourse by Bell et al. They have used terms

like attribution, background, commentary, follow up etc to indicate the

various phases of a broadcast story.

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This thesis analyzes some news stories broadcast by All India

radio, Thiruvananthapuram and establishes that the discourse

structure of radio news stories follows a common pattern. This pattern

includes an intro, a body that includes attribution, reference,

background and commentary and a conclusion that involves a round

up. This round up, at times, also functions in the form of a follow up

indicating the form the story is expected to acquire in later bulletins.

This is especially true of stories that are developmental in nature –

that is, stories that are in the process of evolving.

The discourse structure of broadcast news stories makes clear

their primary communication function. The structure of the broadcast

stories is aimed at facilitating immediate communication and

comprehension of latest developments concerning any news story.

Conversely, it is the particular structure of broadcast stories that

make them capable of carrying along the latest developments in a

news story.

Discourse is to be studied from the view points of non linguistic

parameters also. Thus the presence or absence of humor as well as

the reality behind gender bias are factors that determine the

discoursal characteristics of broadcast news. From this stand point

this thesis concludes that humor does exist in broadcast news, but

only as a function of the dynamics of the news discourse.

Juxtaposition of related or un related items are the most common

source of humor in news bulletins. Here juxtaposition can also be

seen as a variety of the discourse techniques like reference and

cohesion.

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As far as the question of gender bias is concerned, the thesis

argues that such bias is constructed in the collective

unconsciousness of the society by the media – specially electronic

media like radio and television – themselves. For this, the potent

medium of language is used by the media. In a second stage, this

bias is absorbed into the collective unconsciousness of the society

as a whole. Later still, it is at the third stage, that the same set of

biases originally rendered real by the media through the medium of

language – specifically through culturally value laded sets of

signifiers and signifieds – that the same set of biases are refracted

by the media as a realistic portrayal of society. Actually, media in

actually representing what they originally created as a

representation of reality!

In short, the main conclusions of this thesis are as follows:

• Radio news forms a special kind of discourse.

• This discourse owes its genesis in the kind of language

used and in the characteristics of the broadcast medium.

• The discourse characteristics of radio news lead to the

formation of a discourse structure for news stories.

• This structure will help in analyzing and describing the

communication properties of radio news bulletins.

Language in India www.languagei n i n d i a . c o m 8 : 9 S e p 2 0 0 8 Language of Mass M e d i a K. Parameswaran, Ph.D. 186

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Appendix one.

Statistics.

Analysis of content classification.

• Total number of bulletins: 120.

• Total number of items: 2500.

• Total number of days

• covered: 30.

1. Politics: 904! 36.16%

2. Financial: 350! 14%

3. Legal: 302! 8.08%

4. Sports 360! 14.4%

5. Religion: 285! 11.4%

6. Culture: 70! 2.8%

7. Accidents: 127! 5.08%

8. Death: 32! 1.28%

9. Misc: 70! 2.8%

The materials for analysis are the recordings of the 6.45 am

Pradesika Varthakal (Regional news), broadcast from the

Kozhikode station of All India Radio and the manuscripts of the

bulletins of Paradesika Varthakal broadcast from

Thiruvananthapuram station at 12.30 pm and 6.20 pm. The

texts (and in some cases, recordings) of bulletins, covering a

period of one month (November, 2004) have been used as the

primary material for the study.

A total of seven bulletins, spanning a period of one week

was monitored in the month of March,2006, as a follow up to

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the original analysis. The observations from the monitoring

exercise have also been included in the thesis.

Appendix Two.

News Policy for Broadcast Media. (As published in the Style

Book of News Services Division, All India Radio,1992).

1. There has to be a clear understanding of the difference

between news and views. The reporting of news has to be

factual, accurate and objective and only such views as make

news should find place in news broadcasts. There can be no

editorializing in broadcast news.

2. Each news story should be judged strictly on its news value.

3. In the selection of news received from wide ranging sources

and in news editing, AIR and Doordarshan should be guided

by the highest possible professional standards. While news

worthiness will determine the selection of news, its treatment

and presentation should be directly related to the special

characteristics and potential of each medium as well as the

target audiences.

4. Apart from treating news factually and objectively, AIR and

Doordarshan should provide, where necessary, a

background to the events and happenings in order that

listeners in any part of the country are able to place such

events and happenings in proper perspective.

5. The broadcast news should satisfy the highest criterion of

accuracy and responsibility. AIR and Doordarshan cannot

indulge in speculative stories of the type that appear in

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certain journals. They should develop their own sources for

the verification of events.

6. In a developing country like ours, a special function of

broadcasting should be the coverage of development, its

significance, achievements and problems. Development

news covers a wide range of activities – economic,

technological, social and cultural. It should not be confined

to mere statements and plans but should explain their

significance also. For this purpose, news gathering

operations of the AIR and Doordarshan should be expanded

and properly dispersed. In other words, the news gathering

apparatus should make a deliberate effort to explore new

areas of development and nation building news. People’s

participation in such activities should be duly highlighted as

also significant work being done by voluntary agencies.

There by the broadcast media should not only supplement

the work normally done by the news agencies but put out

well prepared background stories on their own.

7. With the limitation of time, the vast audiences reached and

the presentational demands, AIR and Doordarshan cannot

be expected to follow the pattern of news coverage followed

by news papers. The range and scope of news gathering

and selection will have to be suited to the media.

8. The style and method of news reporting should reinforce the

fundamental principles on which national policies are based.

These fundamental principles include territorial integrity,

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national integration, secularism, maintenance of public order

and upholding of legislature and judiciary.

9. Ministerial statements on policy matters, particularly those

by the Prime Minister, are important in as much as they

enable the people to understand national policies. Similarly,

implementation of government programmes should be given

proper place in the news. Here, the focus should be on

information rather than on individuals. It is also necessary

that views critical of the official policies and the manner of

their implementation should also find adequate broadcast

time.

10. In reporting on political controversies, the broadcast media

should be guided by objectivity and fair play. If a variety of

view points could not be projected in a single bulletin, a

balance should be achieved within a reasonable period of

time.

11. In the choice of international events, the objective should be

to keep people informed of world developments. A special

effort should be made to give the proper background of the

events. In the selection of news, greater attention should be

given to events in developing countries, particularly our

neighbours. Apart from strictly pruning and editing the copy

from world agencies, it would be desirable for AIR to use cpy

from the Non aligned News Pool and other Third World

agencies, subject to news merits. What is most essential is

for AIR to increase the number of its foreign correspondents

and carefully select their location and area of news

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coverage. This will enable the organization to project a view

of world developments as seen by India and other non

aligned and developing countries.

12. AIR and Doordarshan should aim at creating an informed

public opinion on international events and developments. In

preparing programmes in news and current affairs, the

national interest must be borne in mind. The national policy

of peace and peaceful co existence, non alignment,

friendship with all countries, support for people fighting for

independence, the struggle against racism and the

establishment of an international order based on equality

and justice should be high lighted. This does not exclude the

reporting of any significant criticism of the Government’s

foreign policy, either in its content or in its implementation.

13. The primary purpose of the current affairs programmes

should be to enlighten people on various aspects of political,

economic social and cultural developments. The treatment

of the subject should be comprehensive projecting differing

view points. It should aim at providing adequate background

information for a proper understanding and interpretation of

events and issues.

14. The current affairs programmes should be broad based in

the selection of topics and participants. The interests of

various sections of people should be taken into account. The

formats should be innovative and suited to the medium.

There is scope for experimentation in this respect.

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15. Internal evaluation of news and current affairs programmes

after their broadcast should be a regular exercise on a daily

basis. A panel of out side experts for news and current

affairs in a particular language should be considered.

16. The characteristics and potential reach of the broadcast

media necessitate the drafting of news items in the spoken

style. The language should be addressed to the ear unlike

the printed word in a news paper or journal which is meant

to be read.

17. The constraints of time that fall on all programmes that are

broadcast also calls for precision and brevity in drafting. The

difference in the levels of comprehension in various sections

of listeners is another factor that has to be taken into

consideration. Clarity and simplicity are essential. Reporters

and those who give talks over radio should aim at easy

communication with people and not at parading their literary

skills.

18. There should be provision for evaluation, from time to time,

of the language of the bulletins. There has to be much

greater emphasis on specialization and training of news

personnel within AIR and Doordarshan. A style book in each

language should be prepared without delay.

19. The implementation of these policies and norms will depend

upon the professional capacity of the people who run the

news and current affairs programmes. The choice of

personnel is most important. A professional must have had

training in news work. He should be able to choose the

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items well and rewrite stories to suit the medium.

Professional training and appreciation of the role of the

media in a democratic society will give him the confidence to

take the right decisions.

Appendix Three.

AIR Code.

Broadcast on All India Radio by individuals will not permit:

1. Criticism of friendly countries;

2. Attack on religions or communities;

3. Anything obscene or defamatory;

4. Incitement to violence or anything against maintenance of

law and order;

5. Anything amounting to contempt of court;

6. Aspersions against the integrity of the President, Governers

and the Judiciary;

7. Attack on a political party by name;

8. Hostile criticism of any State or the Center;

9. Anything showing disrespect to the Constitution or

advocating change in the constitution by violence; but

advocating change in a constitutional way should not be

debarred.

10. Appeals for funds except for the Prime Minister’s

National Relief Fund ata time of external emergency or if the

country is faced with a natural calamity like floods,

earthquake or cyclone.

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11. Direct publicity for or on behalf of an individual or

organization which is likely to benefit only that individual or

organization;

12. Trade names in broadcasts which amount to advertising

directly (Except in Commercial Services).

Footnote.

1. The Code applies to criticism in the nature of personal tirade

either of a friendly Government or of a political party or of the

Central Government or any State Government. But it does

not bar reference to and dispassionate discussion of the

policies pursued by any of them.

2. If a Station Director finds that the above Code has not been

respected by an intending broadcaster, he will draw the

latter’s attention to the passage objected to. If the intending

broadcaster refuses to agree with the Station Director’s

suggestions and modify the script accordingly, the Station

Director will be justified in refusing his or her broadcast.

3. Cases of unresolved differences of opinion between a

Minister of State government and the Station Director about

the interpretation of the Code, with regard to a talk to be

broadcast by the former, will be referred to the Minister of

Information and Broadcasting, Government of India who will

decide finally whether or not any change in the text of the

talk is necessary in order to avoid violation of the Code.

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