Almost every known media type is susceptible to ideological and doctrinal undercurrents, whether as a result of design or accident. The Television as a medium of communication and entertainment allows sophisticated application of ideological persuasion. It has to be remembered that television is a product of the twentieth century. The centuries prior to its invention were not devoid of prevalent doctrines or their imposition on the masses, but the imposition of the desired set of beliefs and habits were achieved through brute force. These centuries saw colonialism at its peak; and where there is imperialism violence follows. Most developing countries today were once colonies of imperialist powers. Empires might have given way to independent republics in theThird Worldafter the Second World War. But post-colonial societies are still trapped in anachronistic patterns of governance, whereby the foreign European elite is replaced by local ruling class. While the players and the medium have changed, the rules of the game have remained the same. Censorship, control and ideological propaganda in the medium of Television should be seen in light of this historical background (Goldsmith & Wu, 2005).
While the general population of most developing countries seem to take a centrist stand in their political beliefs, this is not always reflected in the Television programmes being broadcast there. The most prominent case is the right wing dominance of powerful media houses in the Middle-Eastern countries such asIranandSaudi Arabia. As a result their conservative political ideology gets portrayed in the television programs they produce. Further east inIndia, government censorship is relatively mild; making the country a vibrant democracy, but its neighbourChinastill continues to hold a poor human rights record. Discussion of issues internal to the state and of a subversive nature are strictly monitored and prohibited. The situation in the South East Asian bloc is also not very promising. In most of these developing nations, the conservative owners of leading media houses want to “preach” their viewers what is good conduct and what is not. The way they do it is by “showing” in television what acceptable conduct is. While the moral merits of their beliefs are debatable, their role as the moral custodians of society is highly objectionable. The worrying aspect of this subtle coercion of values into the citizenry, which is a striking feature of television programming in developing nations, is that the viewers are not even aware of it, which makes them vulnerable to ideological indoctrination (Mueller, 2002).
Another recurrent theme of the mass media in developing counties is the editorial slant adopted by news channels. Only a few news stories get picked for publication/broadcast among numerous other pieces competing for the same space/time. The journalists in charge of deciding the news content are subject to personal biases, external coercions (both implicit and explicit) and other constraints that influence their decision making. All these factors serve as a sophisticated censoring mechanism that acts in favour of the powerful and the privileged sections of the society. For these reasons, there are only a minority of journalists who adhere to standards of objectivity and professional integrity, while the rest succumb to various pressures consciously or otherwise. Broadcast media units like the Al Jazeera are exception rather than the rule. This general decline in journalistic ethos is seen across geo-political entities and cultures, making it a cause of concern for all (Keum, et. al., 2003).
The primary roles of Journalism (be it in Internet or Television medium) is to inform and educate the general public about domestic and international political developments. Apart from this prime role, the news media is also expected to serve as a dissenting voice against excesses of power. In other words, in an ideal world the press would act as faithful servants to the general public, earnestly endeavouring to inform and educate them. But the state of media in contemporary developing societies is far from ideal, which is reflected in the news product (TV news programme or internet content) as well as the processes involved in making the product (including editorial policy, government censorship, advertiser pressure, etc). Instead of the media framework being set by democratic mechanisms from the bottom-up, we actually have a system that is directed by corporate interests that actually undermines constructive democratic mechanisms. It is no surprise then that the general public is increasingly growing sceptical of the motives that decide editorial frameworks. Hence, its content is selected and composed to represent the interests and ideologies of a small ruling elite, thereby making the large majority of its consumers helpless and powerless spectators (Craig, 1996).