Every TV channel in India is today encouraging viewers to SMS to participate in polls, contests, shows and what not. However they do not tell the viewers that he SMS sent to the channel will be priced differently than a normal SMS. In some cases the SMS would cost Rs. 6, which is about 1/8th of a US dollar.
However NDTV has gone a step too far. They are running a campaign for a retrial of the Jessica Lal murder case. They want their viewers to send SMS in big numbers to voice their protest. So under the guise of a noble cause the channel is making thousands of rupees every hour. The poor mobile owner sends an SMS believing that he is either being charged a paltry sum and that he is helping a noble cause, but hat’s really happening is that he is making NDTV richer.
The channels do show a small caption that the SMS will be charged differently at Rs 5 or 6 or whatever, but you blink and you would miss the small line flashed somewhere in a remote corner of the screen.
Like cigarette packets have a statutory warning “Injurious to health”, it should be made compulsory for TV channels to show a caption “SMS being charged at Rs x” that takes up at the least 20% of screen space for more than 30 seconds. I intend to write to the information and broadcasting ministry, but if you are reading this and know someone who is addicted to SMSing TV channels, please make him/her aware.