Television finds itself threatened by an adversary with a much smaller screen — the mobile phone

The head honchos of several GECs (General Entertainment Channels) got into a huddle with a bunch of techies. Things were just getting worse for them — on one hand, their ad revenue was shrinking with the cap on the advertising air time per hour.

And on the other, people were spending too much time on their mobiles. It was fine as long as it was restricted to commercial breaks — there were so many of them. But now, with the number of ads being drastically cut down, all their mobile activities were happening during prime time television, when the soaps were on. Predictably, TRPs began sliding.

“I can’t believe this. It should be ‘them’ who should be sitting in front of the idiot box with these boxes,” the head of a regional GEC pointed to a box of tissue as he bawled into a fresh one. “Instead…” he couldn’t continue any further. Another channel head was deep in thought. “We need to do something about those mobiles...” He looked at the techies, one of whom spoke up. “A London-based start-up has created a tracking system that locates where the audience is and plays ads in their mobiles. We can use it to play recaps of the earlier episodes of your soaps in 60 second loops that will stop only when the viewers sit in front of the TV and take their hands off the mobile.” The channel heads were overjoyed.

When the viewing millions realised what was happening, they were furious. “They didn't even seek our permission to flood our mobiles with their content.

We have to retaliate.” They went to the same set of techies who were only too happy to make more money. And they came up with Off Pocket, a mobile case that was capable of blocking any signal — cellular, Wi-Fi or GPS. “Slip your mobile into this and it will be impossible for anyone to track it or send any reminders,” they assured them. The GECs were back to square one and went back to the techies, who were ready with another solution.

“Every mobile has an energy source that emits radiation — we can use infrared sensors coupled with the latest thermal cameras to locate these phones.” ‘Must be like the HotSpot technology in cricket,’ thought the executive from the GEC that showed a lot of T20 as well. Soon the mobile phones couldn’t stay hidden and the trackers were back at work again, inundating each phone with hours of episodes and reminders, until the bleary-eyed viewers couldn't take it anymore.

They trudged back to the techie team.

“Not a problem,” said the team leader, “we have the perfect answer for that too. We'll make your mobiles virtually unrecognisable and so small that no tracking system can locate them.” So they created tiny mobiles with ultra-strong micro-supercapacitors that made SIM Cards look like visiting cards in comparison. And with the supercapacitors being so light and flexible, the mobile phones ended up looking like tiny buttons. So life went on smoothly, with audiences staying engrossed with their phones and the channels working themselves into a lather over their soaps faring badly.

The GEC heads, driven to despair, called for another meeting. “The management is clearly bored of directors dishing out the same drivel on the channel,” began a channel head.

However, the others were too busy with their mobiles, checking their respective show ratings, and ignored him. “Why are you guys phubbing me?” he demanded, feeling irritated. “What’s that?” the others asked, unfamiliar with the term. “Phubbing — it’s snubbing others by getting busy with the phone when they’re talking.”

“If snubbing people with a phone is called phubbing, what’s snubbing soaps with phones called?” one asked. “Sobbing?” suggested another helpfully.

And that’s the reason why, to this day, die-hard fans of soaps are seen sobbing as they watch their favourite characters go through one trauma after another, five days a week.

sureshl.india@gmail.com

Keywords: smartphonesmobile phones

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