Mrunal Manmay Dash

Kartikeya Sharma, Rajya Sabha Member and founder of iTV Network and Vice-President of the National Broadcasting Federation (NBF) believes that artificial intelligence (AI) is robbing people of the opportunity to have an alternate opinion.

Speaking at OTV’s annual conclave, Foresight 2024, Sharma said, “In earlier times, when we read newspaper, it had a headline, then a byline, then we decided whether we wanted to read the news piece. After reading the article, people used to decide if they agree with the point-of-view or not. But now in the era of AI, people are fed news and information which the AI thinks suits the reader’s choice. The AI is robbing people of the opportunity to have a difference of opinion or an alternative opinion for that matter.”

“That is a very big shift from the old media which almost forced people to read an alternative viewpoint of an event to the new media which feeds people only their own viewpoint. Technology is doing this and no one is responsible for it. These are the effects and impact of technology which are changing how we consume content. The whole concept of objectivity has gone out of the window,” Sharma said.

Answering to a question about political interference in media, Sharma said. “I have never encountered any political interference in media. I come from the state of Haryana. My channel in Haryana has about 78 percent of market share. My father was in politics. My father-in-law was a former Speaker. My entire family is into politics but in different political parties. My media house has 78 percent of the viewer share which is a testament to the fact that people are happy with our content. And you are asking me this question on this stage is a proof that freedom of expression exists. Now the question people should ask whether the freedom of expression exists in only mainstream media or other media like the so-called independent media and social media. People have the power to decide. We will not decide and judge the products. Gone are the days when the editors decided what the people are going to read today. Now people decide what to watch and what not to.”

Asked about the conflict of interest in the media industry, Sharma said, “I was running a media business before. I did whatever job I was assigned there. Now, as a politician, I work for the people by raising their demands and problems in the Parliament or any other forum for that matter. A conflict arises only when you stay in two different positions but do the same work. But when one stays in two positions with two different works, then there is no conflict of interest. However, we are still social animals...Be it the journalists or the judges, we all need society to survive.”

“There are many reasons media’s credibility has taken a hit. It is not that simple. People have to understand the complexity of the issue. People only had newspapers a century back. Then came the radio, then the TV and now the digital media and social media. In these 400 years of journey, technology also developed and it changed the industry upside down many times,” Sharma said.

“Even in the United States and UK, media is owned by politicians and run by a State. But it does not make any difference because people have a choice whether to watch them or not. This is the true democratisation of the media as an entity,” he said.

“The role of media is going to be very very important in the future, both mainstream and digital and social media. In the last few years, we have seen people asserting themselves and their opinions. Social media has given them that opportunity. Media as the fourth pillar of the democracy will play a pivotal role in times to come,” Sharma concluded.