The only city in South Asia and India to figure in the ‘52 places to go around the world’ by The New York Times, Chennai is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Chennai is also one of the biggest and most progressive metropolitans of India with an estimated population of 4,681,087 according to 2011 Census. However, like most other Indian cities, a large chunk of Chennai‘s populace reside in rural areas like Ennore, Kodungaiyur, Madhavaram, Kattupakkam, Pozhichalur, Athipattu, Moolakkadai, Puzhal, Sholavaram, Minjur, Vellavedu, Anakaputhur etc.
Media in urban and rural Chennai
Powerful media houses having a robust base in urban Chennai have also been able to maintain a strong reach and access to rural Chennai. Media in all forms such as traditional folk media, broadcast media which mainly includes television and especially radio both FM and Community radios, print media which comprises posters, newspapers, pamphlets, and leaflets, new media such as internet and websites have successfully penetrated rural Chennai.
While FM Radio stations like Radio City 91.1 FM and Suryan 93.5 FM and TV channels like Sun TV and Jaya TV has been particularly good at reaching a mass audience, and able to deliver information quickly and effectively with a liberal mix of entertainment in Chennai’s rural locations; print media like The Hindu, Times of India, Dina Thanthi, Dinakaran as well as various magazines like Ananda Vikatan and Kumudam are equally popular and boast of massive readership.
Urban and rural population
However, there is a need to understand that what appeals to urban population may not be appropriate for their rural counterparts owing to their different lifestyle. While urban population because of their easy access to the latest technology and growing income level are bound to get influenced by media in more than one ways; rural population is altogether a different ball game. The entire communication and also the vehicles for the communicated message thus are different and traditional media seems to be the perfect medium for this.
Traditional forms of media like Villu Paatu and street plays seem to be very effective in its reach and practicality for conveying messages for economic and social development and for creating political awareness. This is simply because these traditional folk media are very close to the hearts and minds of the rural people. So the inherent message naturally becomes more appealing, is personal and is on an intimate level which is further accentuated by familiar format, content and the colloquial dialects used.
Media which is one of the most important pillars of democracy has without doubt a very important role to play in India, the largest democracy in the world. This cannot be achieved unless there is a comprehensive plan to leverage the best form of media especially suited for a particular audience. Although it is still little far away from reaching its full potential, reach of media in rural Chennai has been quite profound.