It has not been ages and those days would be, if not fresh, at least sticking in the memory to most of us – the days when there used to be a post card yellow in colour, which was used to participate in competitions held by the tv channels. Subsequently it evolved into a special post card meant for this purpose, called the competition post card. This too was subsequently replaced by the telephone.
The latest in this list is SMS. Truly the mobile phones have revolutionized the way in which people communicate. From taking part in KBC to answering for the question of the day, from voting for Indian idol to voting to choose the Indian of the year, or whatever be the issue, the simple answer would be the SMS. How simple it has become, just tapping a few keys and done in matter of seconds, registering the individual’s opinion. There is a little known flip side to this issue.
For the purpose of these sorts, the telecom companies have something called as the premium SMS, which is actually charged at a higher cost than other services which the company normally offers. There exists are tie up between the tv and telecom company for revenue sharing, the point which is not known to the actual sender. In simpler words, the total revenue made out of these premium SMS is actually shared between the television company and the telecom company. There are two glaring examples in front of us which would make the picture more clear.
First is KBC3. This program reportedly received a whopping number of SMS from anxious participants who wanted to participate in the show. (There was a news paper article which clearly listed the actual number of participants, the number of messages received and the revenue sharing too). Apart from other revenues, the company made away with a hefty sum of money from the pockets of those who didn’t actually participate in the contest. The second and even worse case is that of Indian Idol. The winner from the final two contestants is decided based on the number of SMS votes he gets. There were documented accounts of people collecting money to cast SMS votes for a person from their region. Now this raises the question. Is the person who is talented of the two chosen as the winner or the person who is able to get the maximum number of SMS votes or indirectly give money to the TV Company through the revenue sharing model it would have already struck. The more ironic fact is that the loser also ends up paying almost the same amount a little less if not equal.
Every company does business to make money and no one can complain of that fact. The thing that bothers me is that how these companies, using the star power of some celebrities, making unknowing people spend their money and make profit out of it.
Are these contests a test for the talents and capabilities or a display of the financial muscle the person commands ? to put it crudely or in a different dimension, the person who bribes most wins....