Media in Mizoram

Dr. Ankuran Dutta*
Dr. Anamika Ray**

Introduction:

The present industrialized world has been dominated by the modern mass media.Jennifer Akin has mentioned in an article that the television in the living room, the newspaper on the doorstep, the radio in the car, the computer at work, and the fliers in the mailbox are just a few of the media channels daily delivering advertisements, news, opinion, music, and other information from nook and corner of the globe. The agenda setting role of the media has positively or many times negatively influenced the general masses. Not only do the media report the news, they create the news by deciding what to report. The “top story” of the day has to be picked from the millions of things that happened that particular day. After something is deemed newsworthy, there are decisions on how much time or space to give it, whom to interview, what pictures to use, and how to frame it(Akin, 2005). Although these decisions are supposed to be taken by the editor or his subordinate colleagues, but now the opinion of the management dominates the role of the editor. These are now depend upon the interest of the management of the media house and the market value of those particular news products. But still there are places, where the mass media is not solely influenced by the industrialised culture, may be, because of the location or the population or for a constructive competition. Media of Mizoram, a hilly Indian state nestled in the north eastern part, is under such category, where a small number of people enjoy a large number of media in their doorstep.

Mizoram is home to a number of newspapers and magazines. Some of the widely read newspapers are ‘The Aizawl Post’, ‘Tawrh Bawm’, ‘Vanglaini’, ‘National Observer’, ‘Highlander’, ‘Mizo Aw’, ‘Thlirtu Daily’, ‘Newslink’ etc. Jim K Chozah, the present Director of the Directorate of Information and Public Relations informs the researchers that there are 90 newspapers, 5 weeklies and 16 monthly periodicals in Mizoram.

This paper is a sincere effort to explore the media of Mizoram. The researchers tried to collect all the relevant data from the Directorate of Informational and Public Relations of Govt. of Mizoram, visited a large number of media houses in Aizawl and a very little secondary data from the govt. websites and sites of the media houses.

History of Media:

Language is the key tool of communication. If we discuss on the media of a particular region, then we have to know about the languages of the region. The languages of Mizoram reflect the cultural diversity which India offers to the world. The State of Mizoram is the amalgamation of different ethnic community who have their own culture, tradition, unique lifestyle and distinctive language and dialect.

Mizo is the principal and native language of the land. It is evidently one of the antiquated languages in the Asiatic mainland (Devi, 2010). Mizo language is also spoken in the Chin State in Myanmar and in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. People also refer to this language as Lushai, which is a colonial term used when the Lushai people had first made this language known to the outer world. Ancient poems have been written in Pawi, Paite as well as Hmar language. However, the Mizo people do not consider Lushai as the correct form of the Mizo language, although it is spoken widely in the region (Languages of Mizoram, 2013). The word ‘Mizo’ is a generic term and is used to mean hillmen or highlanders. The Mizo language had no scripts of its own, the missionaries introduced the Roman script for the Mizo language (Mizoram, 1990). Sir A. Grierson in his book, Linguistic Survey of India quotes J Shakespear for a description of the people and language of Mizoram as “the Lushai had absorbed all other tribes among their fold, the Lushai language (now Mizo) gradually became the language of all these people.” The major language is the Lushai or Mizo and had a rich repertoires of oral literature. J H Lorrain and F W Savidge are the missionaries, who may be considered as the pioneers to standardize the Mizo language (Bhargava,2008).

Now, Mizo has become one of the leading Indian languages with hundreds of newspapers and periodicals published in this language. According to the Registrar for Newspapers in India, a total number of 150 newspapers and periodicals of Mizo language registered under the RNI till April, 2013 (RNI, 2013). As per the State’s official statistics, in 2009-10, a total number of 102 newspapers and periodicals pubilished from Mizoram of which 89 dailies, a tri/ bi weekly and 11 weeklies. Total 13 numbers electronic media are rendering media services in the state (Statistical Handbook, 2011; p. 100).

Print Media:

The first newspaper to be published from the state was ‘Laisuh’ in the year 1898. Mizo Chanchin Laishuih was the first Mizo Journal edited by Captain J. Shakespeare, then Assistant Political Officer/ Superintendent of the Lushai Hills which was published in August, 1898. It was a handwritten cyclostyled tabloid which was soon substituted by a monthly journal, ‘Mizo leh vai Chanchin Lekhabu’ published again by Captain J. Shakespeare. It was the most consistent and regular monthly journal in Mizo dialect edited by Mr. Makthanga during 1911-1936. The 14-pages journal included human interest stories and activities of the government. It was soon followed by ‘Kristian Tlangau’ in 1911, a monthly mouthpiece of the Presbyterian Mission from Aizawl which is now the highest circulated monthly magazine in Mizoram.

The first printing press ‘Loch Printing Press’ later changed to ‘Synod Press’ was established in the year 1911. There was emergence of community oriented magazine in 1934, a publication of Baptist Mission of Lunglei named as ‘Tlawmngaihna’. Another such monthly published by the Baptist Church of Serkawn in 1947 was ‘Kohhran Beng’ which is still in circulation. ‘LSA’ (later changed to Mizo Zirlai Pawl or MZP), a monthly mouthpiece of the Lushai Students’ Association made its appearance in September, 1938. It consisted literary writings, current affairs, patriotic articles and was first edited by Mr. L.H Liana. The first Mizo weekly magazine ‘Tun Hapta Chanchin’ appeared in September 1939 edited by Mr. Liankhuma. In the same year ‘Ni tin Chanchinbu’, the first daily newspaper was published by A.G Mc Call, then Superintendent of Lushai Hills. In September 1946, the first Mizo political journal named as ‘Mizo Chanchinbu’, co-edited by Mr. Thanhlira, Mr. Thanbuaia and Mr. Lalthlamuana was published; soon followed by ‘Zoram Thupuan’ in 1947 and ‘Mizo Arsi’ in 1948 (Pandey, 2013. p. 140).

However, the first English newspaper was ‘Highlander’ on 7th September 1972 and ‘Mizoram Udaya’ was the first Hindi weekly newspaper in Lunglei district. It was first published on 20th December, 2010. There was growth of journalism in Mizoram from 1990 onwards as a number of newspapers and journals made its appearance. At present there are about 100 Mizo dialect daily newspapers with around 200 full time journalists. ‘Newslink’, ‘Mizoram Post’ and ‘Highlander’ are the three prominent English dailies of the state. ‘Vanglaini’ which was started in 1978 is now the largest circulated daily newspaper, ‘Lelte’, an entertainment-oriented magazine is the largest circulated weekly magazine and ‘Lengzem’ is the largest circulated Monthly magazine. Many government organizations also publish their journals like ‘Hriselna’ (by Directorate of Health Services), ‘Thu leh Hla’ (mouthpiece of Mizo Academy of Letters), ‘Meichher’ (by Mizo Adult Education Wing) etc (Ibid. p. 141).

Electronic Media:

The All India Radio was started in Mizoram in 1960s. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had instead a medium wave transmitter and set up a separate studio in Aizawl, which started functioning from May 1966 with a 150 Watt Medium Wave frequency (Media in Mizoram, 2013).AIR Aizawl station formally operationalised on 31 July, 1966 (Prasar Bharati, 2007; p 32). In 1970 the frequency was improved to 1 Kilowatt and then to 10 Kilowatts in 1975 and to the present frequency of 20 Kilowatts since 1979. Short Wave transmission was started in 1992 and one 6 KW FM radio station was launched in 1995 (Media in Mizoram, 2013). On 20 March, 1995, Prasar Baharti has setup a FM transmitter in Lunglei. To explore the talent of the ethnic community and to provide a platform for discussing the own problems of the ethnic community of the rural India, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has decided to set up community radio station under the ministry in some remote areas of the country. Keep in mind with this initiative the Ministry has set up a community radio station in Saiha on 13 July, 2000 (Prasar Bharati, 2007; p 32).

One FM channel at Aizawl (Mizoram) was approved in Phase-II of FM policy by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Development Authority has given final permission for construction of Common Transmission Infrastructure within the All India Radio premises at Aizawl. In turn, BECIL has called for tenders for constructions of CTI building at Aizawl (MIB, 2012; p. 119). Phase – II of North-East Special Package Special Package for expansion & improvement of AIR services in North-East and Island Territories is under implementation. Under this Package the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has decided to set up three FM stations with 1 KW transmitter at Tuipang, Chemphal and Kolasibof Mizoram (Ibid; p. 178 ).

Television made its appearance in Mizoram when Doordarshan installed its first VLP transmitter in Aizawl Tuikhuahtlang to relay the Asian Games in 1982. HPT and LTP telecast began in 1995 and 12th June, 1995 respectively. Local infotainment programmes are also telecast in Doordarshan as well as in other channels provided by the Cable network. The ‘Sky Link’ was the first to provide Star TV programmes in 1991. The LPS and ZOZAM also started their production centres in 1992 and 1994 respectively.

Present status of Media in Mizoram:

Print Media:

As per the report of Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI), there are 184 total registered newspapers and other periodicals in Mizoram. Among these, there are 44 dailies, 7 tri-weeklies, 47 weeklies, 8 bi-weeklies, 6 fortnightlies, 55 monthlies, 8 bi-monthlies, 5 quarterlies, three yearly and one is published half-yearly. Most of the newspapers are published in Mizo language which is 150 in number. The second highest newspapers published are in bilingual amounting to a number of 14, followed by English newspapers which are 8 in number. There are also four multilingual newspapers. Interestingly, two Assamese newspapers are also published in Mizoram. In addition, two newspapers are published in Nepali, two in other languages, one in Hindi and one in Lushai language. On the otherhand, the Directorate of Information and Public Relations of the state has informed the researcher that at present there are 90 newspapers, 5 weeklies, 16 monthly periodicals in the state.

As mentioned, these 184 newspapers are published and registered under RNI in different years of publication. There was only one newspaper published in 1950s while two in 1960s. The number increased to 23 in 1970s. There was a colossal increase of 52 newspapers published in the years 1980-90. But from 1990, the number decreased to 46. Interestingly, 29 newspapers were published in 2000-2010 and another 29 newspapers evolved from 2010 till date (2013). However, one newspaper is not mentioned.

Various locations of different publications of media are Aizawl district, Lunglei district, Saiha district, Serchhip district, Lawngtlai district, Mamit district, Kolasib district, Champhai district. Most of the newspapers are published in Aizawl itself, i.e. 153 in number. Twelve newspapers are published from Lunglei and 3 from Caamphai. One newspaper is published from Sariha, one from Lawngtla, one from Kolasib, one from Kalimpung, one from Lunglri, two from Chhimtuipui, one from Saiba, one from Aizawlhi, one from Saiha, one from Chhinuteipuih and one from Lungbi. Three newspapers are published from different states of India namely one each from Assam (Guwahati), Manipur and Tamil Nadu.

But the actual scenario of the media of Mizoram is quite different from the data mentioned above. The following are the main observations of the researchers on the print media of the state-

  1. Most of the print media of Mizoram is of vernacular language, particularly in Mizo.
  2. Most of the news paper published from the state are consist of 8 pages format, many news paper have its single sheeted publication.
  3. Besides these, maximum newspapers of the state are of black and white edition. The first English daily of the state is Highlander which is also a black and white news papers. But some news papers like Vangalaini, the Aizawl Post, the Mizoram Post etc have charming colour editions.
  4. Although the number of the total published newspapers and other periodicals is very high, but the researcher has sound that maximum newspapers are publishec ont in a regular interval, i.e. daily or weekly.
  5. It can be commented that the newspapers are published like community newspapers. A large number of newspapers are published from the individual housed of the publisher or the editor with a small room.
  6. With competition on the rise, the principle of ‘survival of the fittest’ trend has seemed to set in particularly in the capital city. From the previous 40 or so number of government approved newspapers, regular circulation of the newspapers have come down to 26 in Aizawl, 9 in Lunglei and 7 in Chhimtuipui districts only. An interesting development, however, is the increase of news magazines lately. News Magazines of sports, music etc. have come up large numbers of about 35 or more in Aizawl (Media in Mizoram, 2013).
  7. The Vanglaini, a Mizo daily is the highest circulated paper of the state. It is defined on the basis of various comments provided by the media persons and from the information gathered from the newspaper house. The Vanglaini officials provided that they have more than 40,000 readers in the state.
  8. Finally, it can be said that though the print media of Mizoram has a long tradition of more than hundred years, but it has not grown up as an important industry in the state. For example, the highest circulated daily has a total circulation of only 40 thousand.
  9. For the development of the journalism in the state Mizoram Journalists Association has been working since its inception.

Major Newspapers of Mizoram:

The principal dailies in Aizawl are :- Mizo Aw, Romei, Mizo Arsi, Dingdi, Newslink,Thupuan, Rahbi, Vanglaini, Aizawl Post, Hnehtu, Highlander. Of these, Highlander and Newslink are published in English.

Newspaper Circulation in Mizoram:

Literacy is the significant condition for newspaper circulation. The literacy of Mizoram is more than 90 percent. But the circulation scenario of the newspapers is not in a good position. The Directorate of Information and Public Relations of Mizoram Govt. has provided a list of newspapers with circulation to the researcher. As per the list, Vanglaini is the highest circulated daily with 40,000 copies of circulation. There are only two newspapers have more than 10,000 circulationnamely Aizawl Post (13,000 copies) and Zalen (10, 500 copies). Two newspapers have more than 5,000 copies of circulation, i.e. Virthli (8500 copies) and Zozam Times (7000 copies). Romei and Evening Post have 4,000 copies each and Harhna and Zoram Voice have more than 3,000 copies of circulation.

In the range of 2,000 copies and more, there are four newspapers namely, Mizo Aw, Lunglei Tribune, Pasaltha and Rihlipui. Chhawrpial, Dingdi, Tawrhbawn, Aizawl Observer, Newslink, Highlander, Morning Post, Mizo Argi, Hnehti, Zawlbuk, Ralvengtu, Vulmawi, Ramnuam, Serchhip Times, Lairam, Moonlight and Sahia Post – these newspapers have their circulation between the range of 1,000 copies to 2,000 copes.

There are about 40 newspapers with less than 1,000 copies of circulation and more than 500 copies. They are- Zoram Tlangau, Sakeibaknei, Lenlaini, Thuthar, Mizo Express, Entlang, National Observer, Thlirtu, Zoram Politiks, Youth Herald, Khawpui Aw, Lunglei Times, Zo-En, Zun-Zam, Daifim, Daily Post, Chalthea, Hnahthial Today, Hnahthial Times, Huichhuk, Zolamtluang, Lentupui, Mamit Times, Mamit Express, Phaileng Times, Kawrthah Post, Dumde, Lenrual, Si-Ar, Khawzawl Times, Zothlifim, Vantawng, Thenzawl Today, Phawngpui Express, Lawngtlai Post, Rameng and Rauthla.

Again it is very interesting that a few newspapers have their circulation less than 500 copies. For example, Hnamdamna and Zo-Chhiar have 400 copies of circulation. Turnipui and Duhlai have circulation of about 350 copies. Chhim Aw has 300 copies. Laisuih, Ramlai Arsi and Tipa Express have 200 copies of circulation or a little more. Lenkawl, Maraland and Vohbik have circulation of about 150 or less. It is very significant that there are about six newspapers who have circulation f only 100 copies, they are- Lamkal, Serkhawpui, Buannel, Saiha Times, Saihawpui and Kawleng.

From the circulation’s point of view, it can be said that the newspaper industry in Mizoram is based on the community participation. Total almost 11 lakhs of population, the newspaper circulation is about one lakh eighty thousand. Considering the popultaion of the state, the total circulation is satisfactory. It is considered that the readership of a single copy of newspaper is less or more than five persons. It is significant that as per the circulation data, the number of newspapers is quite high. There are only 4 percent of newspapers have circulation more than 10,000. Five percent have more than 4,000 and 2 percent have more than 2,000 copies of circulation. There are 21 percent newspapers have circulation of only 1,000 copies. Finally we may say that there are only 32 percent newspapers have a daily circulation of more than one thousand copies. Rests 68 percent have less than one thousand copies of circulation, which includes 34 percent with 500 or little more copies of circulation followed by 15 percent newspaper with only 100 copies of circulation. About 13 percent newspapers’ circulation is 700 copies or little more and six percent have 300 copies of circulation.

Another important fact that apart from the Aizawl district, the circulation of the newspapers published from the rests districts are not satisfactory in numbers. The newspapers published from the capital district is 1,49,780 of the leading 31 dailies and periodicals. The newspapers published from Lunglei district is 9100, Hnahthial district is 2830, Mamit district is 3700, Champhai district has 6650, Kolasib district has 2540 copies of all six newspapers, Serchhip district has nine newspapers with a cumulative circulation of 3700 copies, Lawngtlai district has 3090 copies of five newspapers, Saiha district has 3020 copies of all eight newspapers and finally Tuipang district has only two newspapers published with only 350 copies.

From the data on the circulation of the newspapers, it can be considered that the printmedia is basiccally treated as community media in Mizoram. Except 11 percent of newspapers, all other newspapers or the periodicals may be counted as community newspaper considering the circulation of these.

Electronic Media:

Print media in Mizoram had a positive growth which also opened up new avenues for young and educated aspirants. Similarly, there has been rapid growth in the field of electronic media during the last decade.

There are two full-fledged All India Radio stations in Aizawl and Lunglei respectively.All India Radio, Aizawl has been broadcasting varied range of programmes with the frequencies of 540 kHz, 5050 kHz, 7295 kHz and 100.7 MHz. All India Radio Lungleh airs with 101.9 MHz. Other stations of All India Radio Laisawrai, Rengdil, Saiha and Samtore with 100.1 MHz,; All India Radio 100.1 MHz , All India Radio 1602 kHz All India Radio 100.1 MHz MHz(Davies, 2012). The frequency 540 KHz of AIR Aizawl has a 20 KW medium wave transmitter with a coverage to 6 lakhs citizens as per the 2001 census. The station also airs programmes with a 6 KW FM transmitter via 100.7 MHz and 10 KW short wave transmission through 5050 KHz. The community radio station at Saiha has a 1 KW medium wave transmitter and as per the 2001 census, this community radio has a listenership of 27 thousand populations. The Lunglei FM station of the All India Radio with its 6 KW FM transmission has become one of the popular radios in Mizoram. The 2001 census says that about 1.70 lakhs of people can listen this FM station on regular basis (Prasar Bharati, 2007; p 32).

All India Radio covers about 75 percent of the total population of Mizoram. With its five transmitters including medium wave, short wave and FM, the public broadcasting can cover 59.56 percent of the total area of the state and 73.27 percent of the total population. With its frequency modulation, All India Radio covers 45.71 percent of the area and 58.14 percent of the total population (Prasar Bharati AR, 2008-09, p. 93).

Presently, the Regional News Unit of the All India Radio, Aizawl broadcasts a ten minute news in Mizo language at 6.30 pm (Prasar Bharati, 2007; p 96). The national news are relayed by the station. Though, the station is broadcasting only one Mizo news bulletin, but the station is also airing two news based programmes namely, ‘News Commentary’, which is broadcast for 5 minutes at 7.00 am once in a week on every Saturday and ‘Dist News Letter’, which is also a weekly 5 Minutes news based programme broadcast by the AIR Aizawl at 6.45 am on every Sunday (Prasar Bharati, 2007; p 103).

All India Radio Aizawl and Lunglei broadcast programmes in different languages. The primary language of broadcasting is Mizo. Apart for this language, the stations also broadcast programmes in Engish and Hindi as the nationa aguages and in a few ethnic anguages, such as Hmar, Paomih, Mara and Chakma (Prasar Bharati, 2007; p 190).

According to the Audience Research of All India Radio Aizawl, the programmes Chanchinthar (Reg. News- 06.30 PM) and Thirvena (Morning Information- 07.35 AM) have the highest listenership of more than 70 percent. Three morning programmes namely, Zaipawl (Mizo Chora Song), Zokhawiam Hawiin (Rura Prog.) and Thusawi (tak) broadcast between 6.30 am and 7.30 have the listenership of the range of 30 to 37 percent. The programmes- Mizo devotional song, District news letter, Hla thlan (Req. prog), Pathain fakna ha (devotional) and Lunglen (love songs) have less than 30 percent of listenership (Prasar Bharati AR, 2008-09, p. 93). There is also a FM radio station named FM Zoawi.

Doordarshan relayed the Asian Games 1982 from its first VLP Transmitter installed in Aizawl Tuikhuahtlang. (Media in Mizoram, 2013). Mizoram has a few numbers of transmitters for Doordarshan, which includes two high power transmitters (HPTs), one low power transmitter (LPT), two very low power transmitters (VLPTs) and a Trp transmitter for the national broadcasting of Doordashan, i.e primary channel of Doordashan. Mizoram has also two transmitters, HPT and LPT one each for telecasting of the News Channel, i.e. DD News (MIB, 2012; p. 146).Doordarshan Kendra of Aizawl is selected to be fully digitalised as part of 11th plan (MIB, 2012; p. 148, 149)

The cable operators of the state circulate the signals of the Doordarshan mandatory channels. DD1 (National Channel) and DD (News Channel) have been notified vide PB notification Dated: 24.10.2003 in Prime Band. DD Sports channel, Gyan Darshan Channel have been notified vide PB notification dated 25.2.2005 in non-prime band and DD Lok Sabha &DD Rajya Sabha channel for mandatory carriage in Non-Prime band upto 450 MHz. DD-North-East is the Regional Channels of DD notified for compulsory carriage in Prime Band in Mizoram (MIB, 2012; p. 104 ). LPS and ZONET are the major cable channels in Mizoram.

Community Radio: As of 5th February 2013, there are 144 operational Community Radio stations in India, operating from different parts of the country, catering to diverse communities and under different situations. The Ministry of I & B has received a total number of 1156 applications so far from 2004 and issued the Letters of Intent (LOI) to 418 organisations, where as 189 stations have signed the Grant of Permission of Agreement (GOPA). But there is not a single Functional CR Station in the state. Not even a single organisation has received any Letter of Intent. No applications under consideration or rejected, returned by the ministry or any application has Withdrawn by any organisation. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should give special attention to aware the communities and general public of the state of Mizoram, as not a single initiative has been taken by either any educational institutes or any NGOs to setup community radio in the state (Dutta and Ray, 2013).

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