By Sunil Thenabandu
Today, there is an abundance of television channels in Sri Lanka, some old and some new. Among them, the Independent Television Network (ITN) is the oldest, which, due to state collaboration, its consequent precedence has been called the 'Mahagedera' of Television. Each station vies for customer loyalty, is fiercely competitive in providing programs that maximize and sustain viewer interest.
Being indigenous, they promote inter alia traditional aesthetic programs. One area where snowballing interest is evinced is the ‘performing Arts’. In developing performing arts, TV stations could make prodigious contributions. They could be catalysts in identifying and harnessing talents.
They can, to a large extent provide the much-desired platform for aspiring artists to showcase their talents. In fact, some stations inclusive of the 'Mahagedera' the ITN, in the past have been most successful in identifying talents, nurturing and grooming them into talented and appreciated artists. Many who have been benefitted have confessed this as they have elected the fields, they are competent in as their professions for livelihood. These artistes have admitted that they are indebted to the ‘Mahagedera', the ITN, for grooming them.
The concept of the very popular program on Friday evenings “Chat N Music”, for two hours until just past midnight is apparently to provide opportunities to gifted artistes, is comparable to a talent exploration. This program draws a huge viewer audience had sustained for over fifteen years uninterrupted. In the writer's view the way the program is conducted now with a biased selection criterion, considering it a talents search is an unsavoury development.
All viewers would agree that invitations are extended by the music director/producer/ presenter of this program often at regular intervals, to some established artistes, thereby depriving those talented knocking at the door, the much-needed opportunity and exposure. Hence, making this program a misnomer in its avowed desire.
Therefore, the passion for identifying new talents is woefully non-existent. The stubborn pursuance by the producer/ music director/presenter continue with a process that doesn't provide equal opportunities for everyone is atrocious. It has been lamented by many that those who are beneficial to this TRIO are invited regularly.
In effect, it is just the recycling of existing talents who are already well established. One established young artiste confessed that she had come to this program ten times invited along with her fiancé’. Another female artiste , the winner of a reality program for the forces has been invited at regular intervals. She had sung the same song repeatedly. One very senior artiste lamented that he had made only one appearance only as he had acted in an ongoing ITN tele drama. Many a talented aspirant is turned away under a dubious invitation selection process. The fervent suggestion of the writer is to commence an open formula in the invitation route, instead of the current prejudiced invitation process. The authorities of the Independent Television Network should intervene to this unconvinced practice.