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Infotainment-A Strategy for Effective Communication
7/22/2019 11:21:21 PM
Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Vikas Tandon

For the success of any programme effective communication in any sector is an important catalyst. A lot of emphasis on proper communication should be given for the overall development of society. The right message at right time and in right manner is very important because there exists a gap between what people know and what they practice. It has been observed that many programmes do not achieve the desired goal for the reason that message is not communicated effectively. It has been noticed that in recent years not only formulating effective communication strategy has emerged as one of the prime objectives for the programme implementers but also disseminating information through entertainment has become equally important. Recent studies observed that conveying message if lacks an entertaining input does not make a significant impact even if it is good and correct. Information without entertainment looks more monotonous, boring and impractical. Thus, the scientists observed that to make communication more realistic, approachable and effective, conveying it through some entertainment channel would be more result-oriented. The concept of education through entertainment is felt. It has been studied that if information is humanized, emotions are brought into contact with the message and story characters establish a chord with the audience can make the audience practice what the character feels will work for them.
The mass media programmes must be entertaining and educational. Entertainment education is the process of purposively designing and implementing the mass media message to both entertain and educate, in order to increase members' knowledge about an issue, create favourable attitude, shift social norms and change the overt behaviour of individuals and communities. Folk media whether dance or drama or even puppet shows are quite popular among the masses and have impact. With about three-fourth population living in rural areas, folk-based media is quite effective. During the Indian freedom movement, folk media was used to convey patriotic messages and ideas. Thus with such a rich history behind it, it was felt that this media if revamped little professionally could have a bigger impact than any other media. It has been observed by the various research studies that folk media has been preferred by the respondents for getting messages, therefore mixing entertainment with education. Another reason for using folk media as a source of information is that in our country where so many languages are spoken, its use will give economical stability to its artists. Radio and television are very important in conveying messages in an entertaining manner and has become popular now days. Not only in India but also in various other countries, the communication strategies are using serials, sitcoms etc. as medium to convey health and other types of messages. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with Population Communication International (PCI) have instituted an award known as Sentinel for Health Award. This award is given to that television series which raises health related issues in an effective and impressive manner. In India, a few serials on television and radio have highlighted relevant issues like gender inequality, caste discrimination, dowry, girls' education etc. Radio also plays vital role in creating awareness on various social issues among rural population in India. It is still popular among the rural people due to its portable character and uncertain power cuts. Radio and television used to have socially relevant topics in their programmes but the format of most of these programmes was either talk-shows or discussions and hence was not very popular among the masses.
With the introduction of satellite channels on television, which are mostly entertainment-based and sponsored programmes like Vividh Bharati and FM channels on radio, people now have the choice. The changed system has compelled the social scientists to find out ways for disseminating messages which have good coverage and also are effective. So, came the idea of 'infotainment' means information with entertainment. Some other terminologies used are 'edutainment' means education through entertainment. In one of the research studies it was found that few regular listeners, most of them youth, inspired by a character of the soap, have started a school for drop out school children of their village. They persuaded parents of some children to send their wards to school. In another incident young boy of senior secondary, who was so inspired by the serial that he made friendship with youth of his age group from another community and also motivated them to make their parents agree to send their sisters to school. In another village class 11th girl along with her teacher and some classmates, convinced parents of her friend to delay marriage.
The entertainment education communication strategy has come way in the past couple of decades. There is a growing realization among the policy makers and practitioners that the entertainment media represent a potentially powerful tool for influencing people attitude and beahviour. By applying the important lessons learned from past entertainment education communication strategies; policy planners can more effectively use their influence and resources for development. The entertainment education strategy should be given more consideration in advancing development. In recent years several additional insights about the nature of entertainment education programmes have been gleaned by designing and researching them from the theoretical viewpoints from the cultural, humanistic and literary traditions. Local folk theatre, dance forms, puppetry, storytelling and other traditional forms of communication have an important role to play in entertainment education projects. Any comprehensive education strategy must harness such pre-existing local, traditional media forms. Further, ways must be found to adapt local folk channels of recreation and education for wider dissemination on the more ubiquitous modern media channels.
By considering the importance, usage and relevance of infotainment in other sectors too could be judged by the fact that our national literacy programme, known as Total Literacy Mission have a Kala Jatha, a team of folk artists picked from the same district to perform in villages and motivate illiterate locals to come forward and become literate by joining the movement. Also there are Song and Drama Division, Directorate of Audio and Visual Publicity of the Government of India, Directorate of Field Publicity who use this information through entertainment approach to disseminate the messages for behavioural change. In recent times importance of disseminating information through entertainment media has gained ground. In country like India where there is difficult to reach in every village, step in this direction can be made by taking lessons from the others and using local resources for each and every programme related to development sector.
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